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School Education (Ministerial Powers and Independent Schools) (Scotland) Act 2004 [S]

This Act introduces new Ministerial powers to intervene, on the recommendation of the Inspectorate, to ensure that necessary action is taken by a local authority to secure improvement in schools. The powers would apply to all schools in Scotland. The Act also contains several measures to update the registration and monitoring system for independent schools.

Main Provisions of the Act

Part 1 - Power of Scottish Ministers to require action by managers of certain schools
Part 1 introduces new powers of direction for the Scottish Ministers to secure
improvement in the quality of school education that is provided in education authority and grant aided schools in Scotland.

It also places new duties on Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIE), managers of grant-aided schools and education authorities. The new provisions build on the existing systems in place to deliver improvement. They integrate into the existing frameworks for HMIE inspection and for authority and school improvement in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (the ""1980 Act"") and the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 (the
""2000 Act"").

Part 1 is divided into section 1 and section 2:

  • Section 1 - Power of Scottish Ministers to require action by managers of certain schools

  • Section 2 - Power of Scottish Ministers to require action by education authorities

Part 2 - Independent schools
Part 2 amends the existing legislative provisions for independent schools contained in Part V of the 1980 Act. These cover the process of registration and procedures for addressing concerns and complaints about the operation of these schools. The Act updates the provisions on applications for registration to include, in the matters considered, whether efficient and suitable education will be provided for pupils and whether those pupils will have their welfare safeguarded. Amendments are also made to the appeal system, in particular abolishing the Independent Schools Tribunal and providing that appeals will go before the sheriff principal.

  • Section 3 - Meaning of ""independent school

  • Section 4 - Registration of independent schools

  • Section 5 - Regulation of registered schools

  • Section 6 - Appeals

  • Section 7 - Supplementary

Part 3 - General
Section 8 brings into effect the minor amendments contained in schedule 1 and the repeals contained in schedule 2. Section 9 allows the Scottish Ministers to bring the Act into force by order made by statutory instrument and allows for transitional provisions and savings to be made in that order.

A consultation document was published on 6 November 2003 entitled Ensuring Improvement in our Schools: A consultation paper and draft Bill, which set out the Executive's proposals for change.

The responses received to this consultation were published on 30 March 2004 in Ensuring Improvement in our Schools - Analysis of consultation responses.

The Education Committee of the Scottish Parliament called for written evidence on the general principles of the Bill on 30 March 2004. They published their Stage 1 Report, endorsing the principles of the bill on 17 June 2004.


06/11/03 - Draft Bill and consultation document published.

30/01/04 - End of consultation period on draft Bill.

Lead committee:

Education Committee

Preliminary discussion:

Education Committee on 24 March 2004

30/03/04 - Bill introduced to Scottish Parliament

30/03/04 - Education Committee calls for evidence on the principles of the Bill.

Stage 1 (to be completed by 25 June 2004):


Education Committee on 5, 12 May 2004; 2, 9 June 2004

Finance Committee on 20, 27 April; 11 May 2004

Subordinate Legislation Committee on 17 May 2004

17/06/04 - Education Committee publishes Stage 1 Report endorsing principles of bill.

24/06/04 - Bill was passed at Stage 1.

15/09/04 - The bill was passed at Stage 2 by the Education Committee. (see link to education committee meeting for summary of amendments made to the bill at this stage.)

06/10/04 - Bill passed at Stage 3.

12/11/04 - Bill receives Royal Assent.

Further Information

  1. School Education (Ministerial Powers and Independent Schools) (Scotland) Bill Policy Memorandum
  2. School Education (Ministerial Powers and Independent Schools) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2.
  3. School Education (Ministerial Powers and Independent Schools) (Scotland) Bill (as passed)
  4. School Education (Ministerial Powers and Independent Schools) (Scotland) Bill (as introduced)
  5. Ensuring Improvement in our Schools and draft Bill [S]
  6. School Education (Ministerial Powers and Independent Schools) (Scotland) Bill Explanatory Notes
  7. Stage 1 Report on School Education (Ministerial Powers and Independent Schools) (Scotland) Bill