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Education and Inspections Act 2006

Section 60:  Warning notice by local education authority

269.This section amends the legal procedure whereby local education authorities may issue formal warning notices to schools, as currently set out in section 15 of the 1998 Act.

270.Under subsection (1), a school becomes eligible for intervention if the governing body have received a formal warning (which must be copied simultaneously to the persons listed in subsection (6)), and have failed satisfactorily to comply with the warning notice within “the compliance period” (defined in subsection (10)). The local education authority must also have provided reasonable notice to the governing body that they propose to exercise their powers of intervention. The school is not eligible for intervention if the governing body of the school has made a representation to the Chief Inspector under subsection (7) and the warning notice has not been confirmed by him under subsection (8).

271.Subsection (2) sets out the circumstances in which a local education authority may give a warning notice to a maintained school, and is essentially a re-enactment of section 15(2)(a) of the 1998 Act. It provides a local education authority with the power to issue a warning when standards of pupil performance are unacceptably low; or when there is a serious breakdown in management or governance such as to impair standards; or when safety of pupils or staff is threatened.

272.Subsection (3) provides clarification in relation to the standards of pupil performance referred to in subsection (2)(a). This provision, which is new, partly reflects the recommendations of the Education Select Committee (7th Report, paragraphs 50-52, December 2003). This report recommended that Ministers and educationalists should distinguish clearly between low performance and underperformance. The new provision is designed to catch schools that are underperforming in relation to the nature of their pupil intake, or the schools’ general context, as well as those at which absolute standards (attainment rates) are generally low.

273.Subsection (4) specifies what information a warning notice must contain in order to be valid. Pursuant to this provision, the notice must set out the reasons for the warning, the action to be taken by the governing body, the compliance period referred to in subsection (1) and the action that the local education authority is minded to take should the governing body fail to take the necessary action set out in the warning notice.

274.Subsection (5) places a duty on local education authorities to inform the governing body of the school that they are able to make representations to the Chief Inspector within the compliance period against the issuing of the warning notice.

275.Subsection (6) sets out the persons to whom the local education authority must give copies of the formal warning notice at the same time as issuing it to the governing body of the school. These are: the Chief Inspector, the head teacher, in the case of a Church of England school or a Roman Catholic Church school, the appropriate diocesan authority and, in the case of a foundation or voluntary school, the person who appoints the foundation governors.

276.Subsection (7) provides for the governing body of a school that has received a warning notice from the LEA to submit a written representation to the Chief Inspector within the compliance period against the issuing of the warning notice. This written representation should also be copied to the local education authority.

277.Subsection (8) places a duty on the Chief Inspector to consider any representations made by a governing body regarding the issuing of a warning notice. The Chief Inspector may confirm or reject the representations on the basis of the written information submitted. If that written evidence is inconclusive, the Chief Inspector may visit the school to determine whether the warning notice has been issued correctly under the criteria set out in guidance.

278.Subsection (9) requires the Chief Inspector to give written notice to the governing body of his decision whether or not the warning notice is justified. This notice should also be copied to the local education authority and other individuals specified by the Secretary of State in guidance.

279.Subsection (10) provides a definition of “compliance period” in relation to a warning notice, and a definition of “working day” for the purposes of the compliance period. If the governing body has made a representation to the Chief Inspector under subsection (7) and the warning notice has been confirmed, the period in which the governing body has to comply with the warning notice (“the compliance period”) begins on the day that the governing body receives the Chief Inspector’s written notice confirming the warning notice and lasts for 15 working days from this date. If the governing body has not made a representation to the Chief Inspector under subsection (7), the compliance period begins on the day that the governing body receives the warning notice from the local education authority and lasts for 15 working days from this date.

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