DfE will ‘prioritise’ parts of shelved schools bill

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said she “remains committed” to the aims of the schools bill –despite ditching plans to legislate in the near-future.

The minister announced the controversial schools bill “will not progress in the third session” of parliament. This means it has been all but ditched in its current form.

However, officials still plan to prioritise pushing through legislation for some “priority” proposals in separate bills, as first revealed in October by Schools Week.

Keegan told MPs today that the Department for Education “remains committed to the objectives” that underpinned the schools bill.

“We will be prioritising some aspects of that, of the bill as well to see what we can do.

Responding to questions by the Commons education select committee, Keegan suggested Russia’s war in Ukraine was partly to blame.

“Obviously there’s been a lot of things that we’ve had to focus on, and the need to provide economic stability and tackle the cost of living means the parliamentary time definitely has been reprioritised.

“We all know we had to do that because of the pandemic aftershocks, but also the war in Ukraine, and we needed to support families.”

But she added: “A lot of the schools white paper is being implemented. It didn’t require legislation in many cases but we know there’s been interest in particular in a couple of areas around legislating for children not in school and a register.”

She said she knew the committee had been pushing for such changes, and it was “definitely a priority”.

Keegan added later that she could not “completely confirm” the DfE would remove barriers for faith schools to join trusts, another schools bill policy, but this was a “priority”.

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