Letter to the Secretary of State: Remove Part 3

We have sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Baroness Barran on behalf of coalition members and supporters, asking the Department to withdraw Part 3 of the Schools Bill.

The Schools Bill passing through Parliament poses a grave threat to the most marginalised or vulnerable children in society and will make them less safe, not more. The more rapid route to criminalisation for non-attendance will wipe out hard won trust between schools and parents of children with irregular attendance patterns especially as a result of long term illness, additional educational needs, or the lack of access to children and young people’s mental health services.

We ask the new Minister to remove the dangerous new registration duties on parents, as drafted in Clause 49 and the unnecessary associated powers of part 3.

Michael Gove summed up well in 2008, why the big data project, ContactPoint, had to be scrapped and the same reasons apply here. “ContactPoint can never be secure. We are taking this action because we are determined to protect vulnerable children from abuse, ContactPoint would increase that risk. The government has proved that it cannot be trusted to set up large databases, and cannot promise that inappropriate people would not be able to access the database. It would be irresponsible to implement something that is such a danger to our children. After all the problems we have with this government losing sensitive data we need to do things differently. We need to invest in people. Strengthening relationships, not building another Big Brother system.”

Part 3 is simply unnecessary since its aims can be met with existing legislation and it adds nothing desirable over and above current policy on children not in school or school attendance. The adjustments made after Committee Stage do not address these issues.

Supplemental briefing to our Report Stage briefing to address the government amendments to Clause 49 (was 48) published on July 8, 2022 (v1.0). Our Report Stage briefing and proposed amendment (July 6, 2022) v3.1.

We are asking peers to support several amendments proposed for Report Stage Day 2 debate on Monday July 18th, including 86B, 93A, 95A and B, plus 118C.