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Labor calls for amendment to Schools Bill after government U-turn

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Labor has said it will amend the Schools Bill to ensure all state schools follow the national curriculum, following a “humiliating reversal” by Nadhim Zahawi over his academy plans.

Last month, former Education Secretary Mr Zahawi removed large sections of the Schools Bill following concerns in the House of Lords that the Bill would undermine the autonomy of academies.

“As the Tories turn against each other and following former Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi’s humiliating reversal of his plan to run schools in Whitehall, Labor pushes ahead with its plan to push through the children first,” Labor said.

He tabled an amendment to the bill to require all public schools to follow the national curriculum, follow local admissions policies and ensure that all teachers at the academy have qualified teacher status.

Labor said its plans expand on its commitment to all schools receiving professional careers advice, as well as a minimum of two weeks of work experience for all pupils.

He added that he would require national standards for school support staff, such as teaching assistants, because the bill did not mention school staff more broadly.

Labor said it was ‘taking the lead as the government was embroiled in infighting over the Tory leadership race’, adding that Mr Zahawi had been ‘forced to abandon the plans of the government for central control over the academies in the face of opposition from all parties”.

Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson said: ‘Labour’s ambitious plans would raise standards in all schools and set minimum standards no matter what type of school a child attends.

“Unlike the chaotic and thoughtless Tory proposals they were forced to abandon, Labour’s plans have the backing of school leaders, school staff and parliamentarians.

“Conservatives will have the chance to support these plans to improve outcomes for children. As their chaotic reversal showed, even before their bitter infighting, the Tories had no plan, no ambition and no vision: they are failing our children.

The amendment seeks to replace clause 1 of the bill, which was deleted by the government.

The clause proposed standardized regulations on multi-academy trusts, with government control over the quality of education provided, student welfare and minimum qualifications for teaching staff.

Currently, academies can employ teachers who have not undergone formal pedagogical training.

In a letter to the Lords in June, Academies Minister Baroness Barran said the government would remove clauses 1-4 and Schedule 1 from the Bill, which would have introduced new standards that all academies should follow.

These aspects of the bill had been strongly criticized by the Lords, former academy ministers Lord Nash and Lord Agnew, alongside former education secretary Lord Baker, tabling amendments to the bill over fears that academies do lose their freedoms under the new “Draconian”. ” provisions.