Clause 9

Part of Children, Schools and Families Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:15 pm ar 2 Chwefror 2010.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 4:15, 2 Chwefror 2010

Approximately 70,000 children are affected by the issue each year. Let me reiterate the point because, as I think we all know from our constituencies, it is an important and emotive topic. The clause will for the first time make full-time education available for those who are in alternative provision who have not been excluded from school. I think we all regret that that does not happen at the moment, so the Bill will put that right. However, in putting it right, we do not want to create unintended consequences. Having said that the aspiration is for any young person who is not in school or who is in alternative provision to have full-time education, it may be that in certain circumstances—for example, for medical reasons or the best reasons—it is simply not appropriate or suitable for that to happen.

As hon. Members would expect for a Minister of the Crown, I would not quite call subsection (3AA) a get-out provision, but there could be a great deal more clarity and certainty in the phrasing and in what we mean. As I say, we do not want to have a clause that everyone supports if tucked away in it is something that says we do not expect children to have full-time education  if it is simply inappropriate for them. We do not want the measure to be used by some as a way of avoiding their responsibilities under the clause.

I ask the hon. Members for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and for Mid-Dorset and North Poole to withdraw their amendments. I will take some legal advice on the matter and come back on Report with a Government amendment to try to deal with the points raised by them and, indeed, many others. I hope that is helpful to them.