The Education Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on Wednesday 26 January 2011 and received Royal Assent on 15 November 2011. The Education Act 2011 is an important step in implementing the Government’s education reform programme and helping to create an education system that delivers ever higher standards for all children. Most provisions in the Act will be commenced within the next two months, with those relating to abolition of arms-length bodies being commenced at the end of the financial year and the remainder at the start of the school year in September 2012.

What does the Education Act 2011 do?

The Education Act 2011 takes forward the legislative proposals in the Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching and measures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to improve skills, including two elements of the reforms to higher education funding. 

Helping teachers maintain good discipline

The Act will give teachers the power to search pupils for items banned under the school rules and issue same-day detentions. It will provide better protection for teachers from false allegations by pupils. Exclusion appeal panels will be replaced by review panels, which will review decisions but will not have the power to force a school to reinstate an excluded pupil.                           

Freedoms for schools and colleges

The Act supports the Department's commitment to reduce bureaucratic burdens on schools by removing unnecessary legal requirements on governing bodies, teachers and local authorities. It also allows schools and colleges to be exempted from from routine inspection, with Ofsted introducing a rigorous risk assessment process; and expands the academies programme to allow 16-19 and alternative provision academies.

The Act will abolish five arm’s length bodies and where some of their functions need to be retained, they will fall to the Secretary of State, accountable through him to Parliament. The Act will focus school inspections on four core areas of: achievement, teaching, leadership and management, and behaviour and safety. It will make sure the Secretary of State has the powers he needs to intervene in schools that are failing their pupils. The Act will ensure that we measure ourselves against the best in the world by requiring sampled schools to take part in international educational surveys and revising Ofqual’s standards objective to include international comparisons.

Using resources fairly

The Act will give parents of disadvantaged two-year-olds a right to 15 hours free Early Years provision a week; and target the entitlements to free level two and level three qualifications to those under 24. The Act will enable a real and progressive rate of interest to be charged on higher education student loans and allow fees for part-time undergraduate courses to be capped.

Find out more

The Parliament website hosts the Act and the accompanying explanatory notes, which can be viewed online. It also provides access to Parliamentary debates on the Act via the link to Hansard.