Major legislation

A useful book to read on education legislation during the past fifty years is: 'Education in a post-welfare society', by Sally Tomlinson, (2001), Buckingham, Open University Press. Some of the following accounts are based on this.

Education Act, 1870

Established `elementary schools' to fill the gaps in the previously voluntary provision of education for young children.

Education Act, 1944

Abolished elementary schools and established `primary schools'. It also enabled remaining voluntary schools to change their status to `aided' or `controlled' and receive state funding within one national system of primary education. In secondary education, it established grammar, secondary modern and technical schools.

Sex Discrimination Act, 1976

Prohibited sex discrimination in school admissions, teacher appointments and curricular and other provision.

Race Relations Act, 1976

Prohibited discrimination on grounds of ethnicity in school admissions, teacher appointments and curricular and other provision.

Education Act, 1981

Enacted most of the recommendations of the Warnock Report on provision for children with Special Educational Needs. It required that children with SEN be issued with a `statement' of those needs and encouraged the integration of children with SEN within mainstream provision. (Repealed by the Education (Schools) Act, 1992)

Education Act, 1986

Established governing bodies for each school with a specific composition and set of powers for each school size and status. Set a requirement for governing bodies to adopt a curriculum policy, and to provide an annual school report and Annual Meeting for parents.

Teachers' Pay and Conditions Act, 1987

Abolished teacher's rights to independent negotiating procedures over and pay and working conditions and authorised the Secretary of State to impose pay and conditions. He or she is advised by a School Teachers Review Body.

Education Reform Act, 1988

Set national educational aims for the first time and established the National Curriculum and a body to oversee it (The National Curriculum Council, NCC - abolished 1993); national assessment requirements and a body to oversee them (The School Examination and Assessment Council, SEAC - abolished 1993); requirements for the provision of information to parents; a policy of `open enrolment' and parental choice of school; delegation of finances from Local Education Authorities to schools; and the opportunity for large primary schools to `opt out' of Local Education Authority control and become `grant maintained' (GMS).

Children Act, 1989

Wide-ranging legislation which sought to establish a comprehensive framework for the coordination of all forms of law, service and support for children. The Act increased parental powers and those of the courts whilst also emphasising children's rights. Procedures for the work of professionals and agencies are complex.

Education (Schools) Act, 1992

Established new procedures for the inspection of schools by `registered inspectors' on a regular cycle (Planned to be every four years) and to be coordinated by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). Though led by the Chief Inspector of Schools and supported by Her Majesty's Inspectors, the number of HMI was reduced and the system was introduced in which inspection is conducted by independent teams working to contract.

Education Act, 1993

Set up the Funding Agency for Schools (FAS) to administer funding for Grant Maintained Schools (GMS) after opt out from Local Education Authority control. Specified procedures for opting out and regulations for the governance of GMS. Additionally established a `Code of Practice' for national structuring of provision of Special Educational Needs. Introduced regulations for monitoring school attendance and procedures for the identification and monitoring of schools which are `failing to provide an acceptable standard of education.'

Education Act 1994

Set up the Teacher Training Agency (TTA) to fund teacher education courses, including school-based courses, and to promote research on training and standards of teaching. Schools were also now to be involved in initial teacher training supported by grants, in an attempt to detach the education and training of teachers from higher education.

Education Acts 1996

(July) Nursery and Grant Maintained Schools Act.

This was part of the drive towards the establishment of GMS. The intention behind this act was for GMS to be enabled to borrow money from private sources.

With regard to nursery education the LEA would be paid grants for schools and other providers of nursery education for 4year olds. They would offer parents a 'voucher' to be exchanged for pre-school education in state, voluntary or private early years services. This was scrapped by the Labour government when they came to power in 1997.

(November) Education (Schools) Act (consolidating Act)

This included a number of measures, later repealed in 1998 by the Labour Government. It included the following: funding powers were transferred to the Trusts and Governing bodies of GMS, CTCs ( City Technology Colleges) and CCTAs City Colleges of Technology and Arts. LEAs were to contribute towards spiritual, mental, moral and physical development ' and also promote 'high standards of education'. LEAs had a 'responsibility' to establish nursery schools and classes for children under 5 and for children who were ill, excluded or out-of -school. The duties of the FAS (see above) were further clarified although the FAS was soon to be scrapped - in 1998.

(November) Education (Schools Inspection) Act (consolidating Act)

This clarified the role of the chief inspectors for schools for England and Wales , the roles of registered and specialist inspectors, and procedures for inspections reports. It also set out the legislation for schools placed in 'special measures'.

Education Act; abolition of assisted places scheme and nursery vouchers. 1997.


School Standards and Framework Act 1998

This was mainly concerned with the new categories of maintained schools ('foundation', 'aided' or 'community') their establishment, financing, staffing, admissions and selection systems. (See 'School Status' section) GMS had been brought in under the Conservatives as along term strategy for reviving selection. New Labour remained ambivalent about the principle of selection preferring to reduce rather than preclude selection by ability. This act also introduced the setting up of Education Action Zones in areas of social disadvantage and the limiting of infant class sizes.

Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

This legislation is about unlawful discrimination in regard to employment, education and training. It is concerned both with direct and indirect discrimination and applies to public bodies including the education service.