Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education
The draft School Organisation Code is being laid before the Assembly today in accordance with the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.
The 2013 Act requires the Welsh Ministers to issue a Code. The Code imposes requirements in accordance with which relevant bodies (the Welsh Ministers, local authorities, governing bodies and other promoters) must act. It includes practical guidance to which they must have regard and sets out the policy context, general principles and factors that should be taken into account by those bringing forward proposals to reconfigure school provision and by those responsible for determining proposals.
The first edition of the Code came into force on 1 October 2013. It has been reviewed following over three years of its operation. The majority of changes aim to provide clarity where that was needed. Other changes aim to strengthen the Code for example by requiring consultation documents to be published on a school day. The most substantial change is the introduction of a presumption against the closure of rural schools. A list of the substantive changes is set out in the Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies the Code.
Before issuing or revising the Code the Welsh Ministers are required to consult. A 14 week consultation ran from 30 June to 30 September 2017. A summary of consultation responses was published on the Welsh Government website in July.
The draft Code is now being laid before the Assembly for 40 days and is expected to come into force on 1 November 2018.