On 10 May 2022, Prince Charles delivered the Queen’s Speech which officially reopened Parliament. The speech outlined the government’s priorities for the year ahead. This article breaks down what schools need to know.
The key points are as follows:
- The Schools Bill will support the delivery of pledges made in the schools white paper
- There are a variety of other pieces of legislation of which schools should be aware
Read on to learn more about each key point.
The Schools Bill will support the delivery of pledges made in the schools white paper
The speech referred to a Schools Bill – the purpose of this Bill is to level up opportunity by delivering a stronger and more highly performing school system that works for every child, regardless of where they live.
The Bill would allow the government to deliver on pledges made in its schools white paper, published in March, including supporting all schools to be part of MATs by 2030 and implementing a direct national funding formula. You can read more about the schools white paper here.
Briefing papers published alongside the delivery of the speech have confirmed that the main elements of the Bill are:
- Strengthening the regulatory framework for academy trusts and establishing statutory standards to drive clarity and consistency of expectations for academy trusts, underpinned by intervention powers to ensure action can be taken to tackle serious failure if it occurs.
- Supporting more schools to become academies in strong trusts by removing barriers to conversion for faith schools and grammar schools and bringing schools into the academy sector where this is requested by LAs.
- Enabling better, more targeted, and more consistent multi-agency support to the children and families who need it most across England by making necessary reforms to the attendance legal framework. The Bill will require schools to publish an attendance policy and will put attendance guidance on a statutory footing, making roles and responsibilities clearer.
- Implementing a direct national funding formula, so that mainstream schools will be allocated funding on the same basis, wherever they are in the country, and every child will be given the same opportunities, based on a consistent assessment of their needs.
- Establishing ‘children not in school’ registers, as well as creating a duty on LAs to provide support to parents home educating their children.
- Improving safeguarding by expanding registration requirements for independent educational institutions, enhancing enforcement, and working with Ofsted to expand investigatory powers.
- Strengthening the current teacher misconduct regime to include more educational institutions and increasing powers to investigate individuals who commit misconduct and enact appropriate regulatory discipline procedures.
[New] The DfE has released more details about the Schools Bill. You can find out more in our guidance article here.
There are a variety of other pieces of legislation of which schools should be aware
In total, 38 new pieces of legislation that the government intends to pass in the coming year were announced in the speech. This includes some bills that have been carried over from the previous session of Parliament, which ended in April. A number of Bills included in past Queen’s Speeches were also included.
Details of all the Bills announced in the speech can be found in briefing papers published by the government. Here’s a round-up of some of the other Bills of which schools should be aware.
Data Reform Bill
In the speech, it was announced that the UK’s data protection regime will be reformed. The aim of the reforms would be to reduce burdens and improve the clarity of current data protection legislation, i.e. the UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018.
The main elements of the Bill include:
- Ensuring that UK citizens’ personal data is protected to a gold standard while enabling public bodies to share data to improve the delivery of services.
- Using data and reforming regulations to improve the everyday lives of people in the UK.
- Designing a more flexible, outcomes-focussed approach to data protection that helps create a culture of data protection, rather than ‘tick box’ exercises.
Online Safety Bill
The Online Safety Bill was originally announced in the 2021 Queen’s Speech. The Bill aims to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online by improving protection for users, especially children. The Bill is currently at the committee stage in Parliament.
Protect Duty Bill
The Protect Duty Bill would establish a new requirements framework which requires those in control of certain public locations and venues to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures.
A government consultation on the duty listed schools as a publicly accessible place, meaning schools are likely to be covered by the Bill, but it is not yet clear how it would apply.
Mental Health Act Reform Bill
This Bill would reform the Mental Health Act. The briefing papers also detailed some wider action on mental health, which includes accelerating the roll out of mental health support teams in schools and colleges across the country, meaning 399 teams will be up and running by 2023.
Conversion Therapy Bill
The purpose of the Bill is to ban conversion therapy practices intended to change sexual orientation.
A key element of the Bill is to protect freedom of speech, ensuring parents, clinicians and school staff continue to have conversations with people seeking support. This confirms that the government has abandoned its plans to include gender identity in the Bill. Many schools and parents had been worried that the Bill would criminalise professionals who offered clinical and emotional support and therapy to pupils seeking support regarding gender identity.
- You can read the speech and detailed information about each bill announced in briefing notes published by the government.
- We’ll keep this page up-to-date with any further announcements related to the Queen’s Speech.
Mills & Reeve (2022) ‘Government to introduce a ‘Protect Duty’ <https://www.mills-reeve.com/insights/blogs/education/february-2022/government-to-introduce-a-protect-duty> [Accessed: 10 May 2022]
Prime Minister’s Office (2022) ‘Queen’s Speech 2022: background briefing notes’
Safe Schools Alliance UK (2022) ‘Gender Identity Conversion Therapy’ <https://safeschoolsallianceuk.net/2022/04/01/gender-identity-conversion-therapy-bill/> [Accessed: 10 May 2022]