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Education Act


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Legislation relating to innovation and reform of the education system, its provisions, funding, inspection, curriculum, and assessment is agreed by Parliament in the form of Education Acts. These are normally preceded by a White Paper, which sets out the arguments for the policy to be enacted; or by a Green Paper, which calls for consultation over some aspect of the policy prior to legislation. Over the past century or so there have been a number of landmark Acts which have signalled significant changes in key aspects of the education system. Examples of these may be summarized as follows:See also Equal Opportunities Act 2006.

Education Act 1902

Made the Board of Education centrally responsible for educational provision; created local education authorities

Education Act 1918

Raised the school‐leaving age to 14

Education (Butler) Act 1944

Reorganized education into three sectors we recognize today as primary, secondary, and further education

Education Act 1979

Made the development of a comprehensive system of secondary education by local authorities optional rather than mandatory (by repealing an earlier Act of 1976), thus enabling some authorities to retain a selective system

Education Act 1980

Gave parents the right of representation on schools' governing bodies; required local authorities and governing bodies to demonstrate transparency in relation to examination results and admissions policies; introduced the concept of parental choice

Education Act 1986

Abolished corporal punishment in schools; required every local authority school to have a governing body, and gave added responsibilities to governors

Education Reform Act 1988

Introduced the national curriculum and the option for schools to apply for grant maintained status

Education (Schools) Act 1992

Introduced the requirement for schools and local authorities to publish league tables based on examination performance; instigated four‐yearly inspections of schools by Ofsted

Further and Higher Education Act 1992

Enabled polytechnics to adopt university status

Education Act 1996

Section 19 of this Act requires local authorities to provide appropriate education for children of compulsory school age either at school or otherwise than at school; forms of alternative provision are now known as Education Otherwise (than at School)

Education Act 1997

Brought together general and vocational qualifications under one regulating authority by replacing the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and National Council for Vocational Qualifications with the unitary Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

School Standards and Framework Act 1998

Created education action zones; empowered local authorities and the Secretary of State to intervene in the case of failing schools; replaced the grant maintained schools initiative with foundation schools

Education Act 2002

Was amended at a late stage to include a specific duty on state schools and local authorities to have arrangements in place for safeguarding children. This amendment is contained in section 175, and came into force later (June 2004)

Education (Scotland) Act 2004

Addressed the issue of educational support in Scotland's schools

Children Act 2004

Superseded the Children Act 1989 and set out a legislative spine for the government's wider strategy in England and Wales, for improving children's lives, covering universal and parental responsibility, the Every Child Matters agenda, services accessed by children, and the targeted services for those with additional needs

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Subjects: Education.


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