EDUCATION watchdog Ofsted will no longer check the contents of students’ lunchboxes under measures contained in yesterday’s Education Bill.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the schools inspectorate should concentrate on key areas such as achievement and behaviour, rather than “peripheral” issues.

The Bill focuses on boosting standards and improving behaviour in schools.

If passed, it will grant the Secretary of State powers to order a local council to close schools that are judged to be in special measures, require significant improvement or have failed to comply with a warning notice.

And academy sponsors will be stripped of their involvement in a school if that school under-performs.

Changes to Ofsted will mean schools will be judged by the watchdog on four key areas – quality of teaching, leadership, pupils’ behaviour and achievement.

Publishing the Bill yesterday, Mr Gove said: “There are areas of Ofsted inspections, such as community cohesion or regulations governing what students bring in their lunchboxes at lunchtime, which are entirely peripheral.

“One of the problems with Ofsted inspections is that they are asked to inspect and measure for things which, by definition, are hard to judge and not central to what schools are about.”

The Bill hands more control to the Education Secretary to intervene in failing schools.

There are also proposals to give schools the final say in expelling violent pupils, without their decision being overruled – although Mr Gove also said facilities for expelled pupils needed to be improved.

Proposals first put forward under the Labour government to raise the school leaving age to 18 have also made it in to the Bill, but appear to have been watered down.

Whereas Labour proposed that pupils could face criminal sanctions if they did not stay in school or training, this has been left out of the Bill.

The Bill also sets out measures to give teachers extra powers to search pupils for anything that could disrupt lessons, including pornography and video cameras.

Staff facing allegations from pupils will remain anonymous until charged with an offence, and rules that mean schools must give parents 24 hours’ notice of a detention will be scrapped.

Other measures include the axing of a number of education quangos, such as the General Teaching Council for England and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency.