§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Committee stage resumed on Clause 1.
The Lord Bishop of London moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 2, line 12, at end insert ("and
(c) in the case of voluntary schools subject as aforesaid be in accordance with model instruments and articles to be incorporated in regulations made by the Secretary of State.").
§ The right reverend Prelate said: I shall not keep the Committee long on this particular amendment. I must first say that I am slightly confused because I did not quite hear what the noble Earl the Minister said in an earlier speech this afternoon about model instruments and articles.
§ The Earl of Swinton
May I say to the right reverend Prelate that all I said was that I would be referring to them during the right reverend Prelate's next amendment.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I am obliged to the noble Earl. In the discussions we had with the department while this Bill was being drafted it appeared that there was some reluctance on its part that model instruments and articles should be published once again. I say "once again" because they had been generally available since the 1944 Act, and it is only recently that they have not been available. It is 1304 only the last edition of a well-known manual, County and Voluntary Schools, which has omitted them.
It has been argued that so many details, constraints and requirements appear in the Bill that the models are unnecessary. On the other hand, we would argue that because so much appears in the Bill already it would not involve an excessive amount of work to produce a set of models both for instruments and for articles. Our main point is simply that models are extremely helpful when conducting negotiations with local authorities under the terms of Clause 2 as it would be in this Bill.
The absence of models in recent months in the edition of County and Voluntary Schools that I referred to has caused the department itself some difficulties in producing instruments and articles following the 1980 Act. It would seem to me that for the benefit of everyone involved in implementing this Bill when it becomes law it would be of great assistance if the former practice could be provided for, whereby model instruments and articles will be made available, being incorporated in regulations made by the Secretary of State. I hope that the Minister will feel able to accept this amendment and secure that such models are available in the future. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Swinton
I note that this amendment follows a suggestion made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester during the Second Reading debate. We recognise the anxiety of the Churches that any function currently bestowed on governing bodies by articles of government should not be usurped by LEAs when the articles are remade. We also recognise that the suggestion that there should be model instruments and articles, produced by the Department of Education and Science, is intended to be helpful as it is thought that the existence of model governmental documents will reduce the number of questions referred to the Secretary of State because the LEA and the voluntary school governing body cannot agree on the terms of the instrument or articles, or both.
As my noble friend Lady Young indicated at Second Reading, the department is ready to offer model instruments and articles for guidance, but I hope the Committee will recognise that it would be quite impracticable for these to have any sort of statutory force. The circumstances of individual schools differ quite widely. The provisions of Clause 4, for the composition of aided and special agreement school governing bodies, allow there to be considerable variety, so that any framework to be imposed by statute would be so skeletal as to be meaningless.
Even within the provisions of Clause 3, which will apply a relatively tight formula to controlled school governing bodies, the category of foundation governors will include governors appointed from a variety of sources. When it comes to articles of government, the Bill requires certain functions to be specified, sometimes with no room for manoeuvre but sometimes as a minimum provision, allowing the articles for individual schools to make greater provision than the minimum if appropriate. On other matters, particularly where aided schools are concerned, the Bill is silent, and articles of government make the appropriate allocation of functions.
1305 Model instruments and articles prepared as guidance can accommodate many of the variations, or can leave blanks. Models which have statutory force, however, either have to contain only those provisions which are common to all schools or to have an endless list of alternative versions, which even then may not be exhaustive. In the light of the Government's unequivocal assurance that model documents for guidance will be prepared and recommended to LEAs, I would ask the right reverend Prelate to withdraw the amendment.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I am grateful to the noble Earl the Minister for his reply. In the light of what he has said, I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 4:
§ Before Clause 3, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Instruments of governing bodies.
§ .—(1) This section applies in relation to any county, controlled or maintained school.
§ (2) The instrument of government of such a school shall provide for the governing body to consist of an equal number of—
- (a) parent governors, with pupil governors where the local education authority considers it appropriate;
- (b) governors appointed by the local education authority;
- (c) staff governors, comprising at least one representative from the teaching staff, and at least one representative from the support staff of the school;
- (d) the head teacher, unless he chooses not to be a governor; and
- (e) either—
- (i) at least one foundation governor and at least one co-opted governor, in the case of a controlled school; or
- (ii) co-opted governors, in any other case.
§ (4) Where the head teacher is a governor he shall be treated for all purposes as being an ex officio governor.
§ (5) Where the local education authority determines that the governing body shall include pupil governors, it shall determine the proportion of places between parents and pupils, subject to there being no governing body on which pupil representatives comprise the majority in this category.
§ (6) The local education authority shall determine the proportion of teaching and non-teaching staff representatives on the governing body.
§ (7) The local education authority shall have regard in the determination of the size of a governing body to the categories set out in subsection (8) below in relation to the numbers of registered pupils in a school, and shall provide in its determination for uniform sizes of governing bodies within each category of school size.
§ (8) For the purposes of this section, the categories of school size shall be the number of registered pupils in each school as follows:—
- (a) less than 100;
- (b) more than 99, but less than 300;
- (c) more than 299, but less than 600;
- (d) more than 599.').
§ The noble Lord said: This is probably the most important amendment that we are putting before the Committee today. I say with all sincerity that it is intended as a lifeline for the Government. I believe 1306 that the Government, with the best will in the world, have become enmeshed in a far too complicated series of procedures for setting up in great detail the composition of governing bodies. It is not just that the Bill as it is drafted has to provide for governing bodies with different elements for different sizes of school, but as we proceed through the inexorable process of thought to which the Government become committed by Clause 3 it is evident that there have to be many more supplementary provisions which become more and more complicated, more and more difficult and more and more rigid in their application.
§ The number of pupils in a school is a very good example. There is provision in the Bill for what happens when the number of pupils rises above the magic number of 199, or whatever it may be, or when it falls below 199 or some other magic number. The Bill has to make provision for the possibility of an excess of governors and that the least senior governors have to be removed if there are too many. If there is equality between two governors in terms of seniority, we must have on the face of the Bill the provision for the two governors to toss for the position.
§ This is not the way in which we should be approving or making legislation in this Chamber. We should not be spelling out in the Bill the fact that a governing body, for example, shall appoint a chairman or vice-chairman. It would be a most extraordinary governing body that decided not to appoint a chairman. But there is a distinguished precedent in this Chamber and in the Committee. It is possible to proceed in a governing body without a chairman, yet on the face of the Bill we have to force a governing body to go through this procedure and we have to force the Secretary of State to prescribe that this procedure shall be followed.
§ Over and over again we start from the wrong premise, that the Government shall lay down in detail the composition of governing bodies for different sizes and types of school. What follows from that premise is an unacceptable degree of dictation by the Secretary of State to local educational authorities and governing bodies.
§ I said earlier that this is being done by the Government with the best will in the world. I believe sincerely that that is the case. I believe that the noble Earl and the noble Baroness in their Second Reading speeches properly appreciated the role of parents and the value that parents are to governing bodies. I believe that there was a proper appreciation of the desirability of taking away from governing bodies overall political control by the local education authorities.
§ There was a universal recognition at Second Reading that the principles laid down by the committee chaired by my noble friend Lord Taylor were the right principles to be adopted in legislation at this time. Unfortunately, if the Government were set an exercise on precis and comprehension of the Taylor Report, I think that they would fail on both counts. First, it is not a precis because the Bill as we have it is considerably longer than the recommendations of my noble friend and his committee on the composition of governing bodies; and, secondly, in terms of comprehension it appears that the wording of the Bill has been produced at arm's length from the practical 1307 experience of education authorities and governing bodies. If that were not the case, I am convinced that the Government would have provided considerably more flexibility in the way in which the reforms now proposed should operate.
§ I have an example from the local education authority where I live in Haringey, where the local authority has instruments of government which apply to all the schools but one. In the one school where I was a governor for 15 years there is a variation in the instruments of government to allow for a larger number of governors co-opted from a school and community association which has a real life in that community. It is based on the school and not only takes a considerable interest in the work of the school but combines community activities with the activities of the school.
§ That flexibility was permitted because the Secretary of State was able to approve for one school in the local authority area different instruments of government from those for all the other schools in that area. Differences between different local authorities related to local needs are also possible under the existing regime. But the Bill as drafted makes it impossible to have that kind of flexibility. It makes it impossible for there to be the recognition of local needs which we believe to be the essential lesson from the Taylor Committee and which in our view is the principal objective of this part of the Bill.
§ The fundamental principle behind Taylor was that we should extend the wisdom and judgment available to the schools by extending the constituency of the governing body. The Taylor Committee said that there should be equal participation by the local education authority, the teachers, parents and co-opted governors who could in their turn represent the higher education in the area in the form of secondary schools or industry and commerce; because it is a theme of the 1980s that we desperately need better links between the world of work and the world of education. All these things are possible under the amendment as it has been put before the Committee. They are not really possible in the form in which the Bill has come from the parliamentary draftsmen.
§ If this amendment finds favour with the Government, strictly speaking only Clause 3 would need to be removed from the Bill. But I suggest to the Government that if they accept the idea of flexibility within the broad principles laid down in the amendment and by the Taylor Committee, and supported by the Government's spokesmen at Second Reading, all of us could discuss together the degree to which further amendments on the Marshalled List would no longer be necessary. If we accept that it is for local authorities and local opinion to consider matters such as whether there should be pupil governors, it is for local authorities and local opinion to decide the relative strength of representation of teachers and non-teaching support staff.
§ If we allow local option to decide the balance between pupil and parent governors (if it is decided that there should be pupil and parent governors); if we allow local option to decide on the composition of the co-opted quarter of the governing body; the degree to which there should be representation from industry 1308 and commerce, higher education and so on—if we can agree that these are matters which should be the responsibility of local people rather than laid down to the last dot and comma by government on the face of the Bill, I feel sure that in co-operation it would be possible to produce a more comprehensible Bill, a more flexible Bill, a Bill which achieves the objectives of the Government in bringing it forward but does so with a great deal more consent and co-operation from people working in and around our schools than is at present possible.
§ I said at the beginning that this is intended to be a lifeline to the Government. I hope that the Government will seriously recognise the extent to which this amendment is moved in support of the basic principles of the Bill and in a sincere desire to make it a more effective instrument for achieving those objectives. I beg to move.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I do not propose to speak in detail about this amendment but I must make one or two remarks about it to begin with. The noble Lord has just referred to flexibility. When I read this amendment I see not flexibility but inconsistency. I do not think that I am altogether lacking in numeracy, but I find it extremely difficult to do the sums which the amendment requires. I am told that the instrument of government shall provide for an equal number of parent governors, governors appointed by the local education authority, staff governors, the head teacher and then either one foundation or one or two co-opted governors.
If one has only one head teacher, one cannot fulfil the obligations of staff governors as mentioned in paragraph (c), for example, because you cannot have two of them equalling one head teacher. Is it the intention of the amendment that they should have a kind of multi-headed school with a sufficient number of head teachers to match the numbers under paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (e)?—because you cannot have it both ways. If you are going to reach the maximum allowed in this amendment of 20 governors, the only way is to have four head teachers. Flexibility? I do not think so. I would say that, whatever the merits or otherwise of this particular amendment, it needs a good deal of looking at before it would stand the test of use.
I come now to a much more important point, which is this. I think that it may not be appreciated that the effect of this amendment is to strike at the dual system. I am referring here not merely to later amendments which would reduce the majority of foundation governors to one. That is a serious matter. We have already moved from one-third foundation governors under the 1944 Act to not less than one-fifth under the 1980 Act. The present Bill provides for two, which is just about workable. To reduce it to one could put the future of a Church school at risk, depending upon whether or not one of the foundation governors happened to have 'flu that day.
I will refer to something else. I think that perhaps there is a mistake in the second line of this amendment. It should read "maintained special school". Perhaps I am not right, but if it is not a mistake and the word "special" is omitted, the new 1309 clause applies to all schools because all schools are maintained schools. Nevertheless, whether that be so or not, if this Amendment No. 4 is carried and then the noble Lord's intentions to oppose the two subsequent clauses are successful, aided schools will have disappeared as special agreement schools will have disappeared.
The only point that I want to make now is about the dual system. I hope that this is just accidental and not deliberate because this is not the time and place to speak of the merits of the dual system and I would not want to take up the Committees' time arguing for what I believe to be an extremely workable and valuable system in this country. I would only make two points. First, the present dual system was the result of very prolonged and detailed consultation over a long period of time. I do not believe that it is either responsible or democratic to threaten the dual system by amendments to a Bill. If people do not like the dual system, I believe the honourable thing is to face it head-on and say, "Let those who advocate it as being the right system for this country, given the history of education, argue it". Let us face it and discuss it openly and properly. I hope I am wrong and that this is not an intentional but an unintentional threat to the dual system.
Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that it was the Churches which took the intitiative in providing a national system for education for those who could not afford it in this country. That is something, I think, that we should never forget. During the years following the 1944 Act we have sought to exercise what we now call positive partnership. May I give one example. After the 1944 Act, it was urgently necessary on educational grounds to reorganise the all-age schools. The Church of England, I believe, behaved very properly at that time; and I know what the figures were. Because it could not at that moment afford to retain all its schools, or all the ones it wished, the aided schools, it said: "Rather than hold up the reorganisation of all-age schools we will let them go controlled in order that that reorganisation may take place". That, I believe, was a very proper exercise of partnership in which the needs of the Church and the needs of the country were very properly balanced and considered. I believe our record for partnership can stand very careful examination.
The last point I would like to make in urging the Committee to resist this amendment is that I believe it is very important to keep governing bodies to a reasonable and workable size. I do not believe that governing bodies which could take on a semblance of public meetings are in the interests of the school or in the interests of those who are represented on them. I hope that the Committee will resist this amendment.
§ Baroness Faithfull
May I ask for guidance on this amendment? Does this amendment apply to special schools—and by "special" I mean schools for the mentally handicapped, physically handicapped, blind and so on? Do these amendments apply to such schools? The difficulty with the special schools is that they very often serve a wide area and the parents do not live in the same area as the school. The parents do not know one another, and for parents to be represented on the governing body is virtually an 1310 impossibility. I am a governor of two schools for maladjusted children used by local authorities, but voluntary schools. We have found it quite impossible to have parents as governors on those governing bodies because they do not know one another, they do not live near one another and they are not in touch with one another except on sports days. I shall be grateful for some guidance.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I think it may be helpful if I came in immediately to respond to the right reverend Prelate and to the noble Baroness. Although there may be drafting defects, I do not believe that they are drafting defects of the sort suggested. It is not the intention that this amendment should apply to aided schools or to special-agreement schools, and it is certainly not the intention that this amendment should have any effect whatever on the relationship between the Church and the state in our schools. If we have worded the amendment wrongly by omitting the word "special" from the second line, so be it. It will have to be corrected later.
There is no intention of any kind that the foundation governors of aided or special agreement schools should be affected. As I said when I moved the amendment, there is no intention to affect any thing other than Clause 3 as drafted. I can say without hesitation that the major fears that the right reverend Prelate has expressed are not intended. I do not believe in fact that they are to be found in the amendment.
In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, the answer is yes. It is intended that the amendment should apply to maintained special schools. If there were any doubt on that point, it would be resolved by later amendments which we have tabled which provide that the principle of parent governors and teacher governors should be extended to special schools. I appreciate the point that she makes: that parents live in different parts of the country and do not meet socially in their own neighbourhood, hut a number of local education authorities have found it possible to have parent governors of special schools. The parents come to the school on special occasions—on parents' days and so forth. They meet each other and they have the opportunity to elect from their number a parent to be a member of the governing body.
I am sure that the noble Baroness will agree that it is desirable, if possible, to have parents represented on the governing bodies of such schools. If some local authorities have found ways of doing that, we should surely attempt to learn from them rather than to fall back on local authority nominations for parent governors in such schools.
I had hoped that we would not anticipate the discussion which might take place later on the special needs of special schools. That is a separate issue. It is only because the amendment is intended to loosen the bonds of the overrigid specification on the face of the Bill that the question arises in that way. There is a point of difference between myself and the noble Baroness. It is not one which I believe is incapable of being resolved. I am sure that a way can be found to allay her fears and to provide as much democracy as possible in special schools. It may have to be dealt with by a subsequent amendment. Any further flexibility is not ruled out by the amendment as proposed.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I am grateful for the noble Lord's assurances that subsection (1) of Amendment No. 4 is intended to cover county, controlled or maintained special schools. In that event, where is it proposed that the government of aided and special agreement schools should be provided for in view of his express intention to oppose the Motion That Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill? That clause relates specifically to aided and special schools.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I had hoped that I had made it clear that the only consequential action that I proposed to take if the amendment is carried is to oppose the Motion That Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill. The discussion that I would wish to take place on Clause 4 is a separate matter and is not related to this amendment in any way. There are a whole series of clauses on which I shall oppose the Motion That the clause shall stand part of the Bill for different reasons. They are not affected by the wording of this amendment. The right reverend Prelate made one other perfectly valid point. I think that we have put the head teacher in the wrong place. It is not the intention that there should be five equal quarters on a governing body.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ The Earl of Longford
I find myself in a difficulty. I certainly could not cast a vote in favour of anything that weakened the position of the churches in the schools of this country. As it is, their position is in no way too strong. I know that we are possibly coming to such a discussion later; but I want to be sure that, in the light of the assurances given, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London is satisfied that this amendment does not threaten the dual system.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
In view of the explanation and assurances that have been given, I agree that the amendment as it stands does not threaten the dual system in the way that I suggested. I am grateful for those assurances. I still wish to oppose the amendment on other grounds, not least the size of the governing bodies.
§ Baroness Phillips
Like the right reverend Prelate, unfortunately I could not be present on Second Reading and so, in that sense, I shall be trespassing a little. I do not like the Bill. I find it an interference once again with the teachers. So far as I know, no one has ever proposed that there should be a governing body of a hospital with five satisfied or dissatisfied customers sitting on it, with four doctors and so on. Why is education always singled out for interference? If the amendment will make it possible to have fewer governors, I am in favour of it.
As for having pupil governors, I wonder whether any of your Lordships have experienced that. One must remember that in church schools the governing body appoints the staff. One must speak as one sees the matters in operation. When passing legislation it is very easy not to realise how it will apply in practice. A difficult political situation can arise if a teacher is being appointed by parent governors of children who are actually in the school. I shall not bore your Lordships with examples of how that works, but it can work in a very curious way.
1312 My feeling is that it would be marvellous if the governors were made up of representatives, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said, of industry, commerce and all the good souls in the local area who have a feeling for the school. That would be admirable; but we must be very careful not to specify too absolutely who those people are to be, because that is not democratic. It is imposing from above a structure which may well work in some cases, but I solemnly suggest to your Lordships that it will not work in all. I therefore find myself in a slight dilemma because I do not even like the clause in the first place. However, the amendment might, in some ways, modify the numbers and therefore make some contribution to the future working of the Act.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
I should like to express general support for the amendment on grounds that have already been put forward by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I think that that degree of flexibility is highly desirable, as opposed to the rigid codification of the Bill. Local education authorities in different parts of the country and at different times may well wish to vary the size of governing bodies. One is thinking, in particular, of their size. It is difficult to imagine that a governing body with as many as 20 members is a good idea. With the amendment, the possibility of having smaller governing bodies becomes possible.
I happen recently to have been speaking to one head teacher of whom I asked the vital question, "How helpful to you is your governing body?" It had 18 members. He said, "Well, to be absolutely frank, only four out of that number are what I would call dedicated to the school's interests. The others are very nice and pleasant people but they are ships that pass in the night. I meet them three times a year. They really do little to help me in my job or the school in its running." It might very well be possible under some scheme such as is suggested in the amendment for numbers to be reduced and for LEAs to play a greater part. I strongly support the amendment.
§ Lord Butterworth
I have problems with this clause which I suspect cannot be cured by amendment. It seems to me that its operation would not further the principle upon which I think we are all agreed; namely, to create in the schools a partnership between, essentially, three parties—the parents, the LEAs and the headmaster and his staff. A subsidiary purpose would be to create a governing body which was no longer dominated by the local authority.
If I may give the Committee an example, I should like to take subsection (5) of the amendment which reads:Where the local education authority determines that the governing body shall include pupil governors, it shall determine the proportion of places between parents and pupils, subject to there being no governing body on which pupil representatives comprise the majority in this category".If the local authority were to decide to allocate parent places to pupils—and in this situation the temptation to do so would be very strong—the result would be that the LEA block on the local authority would become the single largest block. Therefore, we should be going a long way to vitiate the principle on which we are already agreed, because we would be giving to the LEA a major voice on the governing body.
1313 Again, if we take the staff group, group (c) in subsection (2), at first sight it looks seductively democratic. But if you carry out the calculations in detail—and I found it difficult to do the sums on this amendment; I came in specially to pick up any amendments on Friday, but found that the Marshalled List was not available and the amount of time that we have had to study these amendments is not enough in order to express a concluded view upon them—I suspect that if a considerable number of places were to be allocated to the non-teaching staff, there would be many governing bodies where the teachers would have fewer representatives than they have under the 1980 Act.
Indeed, this clause requires that we should think about two new categories on the governing bodies: first, the pupils and, secondly, the non-teaching staff. It is not immediately obvious that the non-teaching staff can make their best contribution to the governance of the school through the governing body. I hope it will not need to be argued in this Chamber that the non-teaching staff should be fully involved, but I suspect there are probably other ways in which they can be involved, although it is not obvious from their duties as non-teaching staff that they would necessarily have a contribution to make. It may happen from time to time that a member of the non-teaching staff has a considerable contribution to make and would with advantage become a member of the governing body. That is a case where I submit that the power of co-option should be used.
When we look at this clause, we find that the numbers who can be co-opted have been reduced. I should have thought on any governing body that the power of co-option is extremely important, not only for the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, explained to the Committee, to bring in people from industry and from other walks of life, but also because it is from that category that I suspect so often the chairman of the governing body might well be identified.
Again, this clause introduces a departure which I should have thought requires a great deal of thought before we embark on legislation. I refer to pupil governors. If it is to be done, there are a number of problems that need carefully to be thought out before we embark upon it. It is clear that an excellent school requires the full involvement of its pupils. I am not convinced that this is the way to do it. If it is to be done by way of experiment, again, the power of co-option could be used. At the moment the pupil to be co-opted would have to be over the age of 18 and it may be a matter to be considered whether that age at some time ought to be reduced.
I should say from the experience of universities that we have found that the student members of governing bodies and of other committees have enormous experience, but there are additional problems in a school where the parents themselves are a substantial group on the governing body. However, if pupils are to be admitted to the governing body, one will need to think carefully about the nature of the business being brought before them. In universities, we have to have a very large number of reserved items which could only be discussed when the students were not present. By and large, all the personal matters affecting either 1314 staff or pupils themselves, promotions, appointments, dismissals and the whole question of the discipline of individual pupils cannot be discussed if pupil governors are to be admitted.
But I should be against this clause on the grounds that when you come to look at the detail, on so many occasions it vitiates the one principle that unites us, of wishing to create a real partnership in the governing body among the parents, the academic side—the headmaster and his staff—and the local authority.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
I did not mean to speak at this stage in Committee and intended to wait until later. But I am getting worried about the way in which the Committee is going. We seem to be introducing a lot of subjects which should not be brought in now. I must now repeat quite a lot of what I said at Second Reading, and then go on to one or two other matters on which various noble Lords have raised questions during the discussion on this clause. I shall try not to speak with the feeling that has been brought out in me by some of the things that have been said.
I spent two years working with a team of devoted people to try to get the government of schools right. The main object in our minds was to try to improve the government. We did not just stay in London in Elizabeth House. We went right around the country. We looked at what was taking place. We looked at bad management of schools and we looked at good management of schools. We tried to pick out what would be best for the country. We had no intention of interfering in any way with the dual system. The right reverend Prelate will know quite well that one of his colleagues who served on that committee produced his own report at a later stage which I think the Church of England accepted about two years later.
We looked carefully to ensure that we had the position correct. We tried to find a balance. We realised in going around looking at different managing bodies that there was not a proper balance. In some authorities it was completely the local authority; and a lot of things of a political nature which should never have occurred did indeed occur in those authorities. In other authorities there was a good balance which brought in pupils. You can get over the difficulties in the same way that we got over them in the universities. I, too, sit on a council of a university on which students play a good and active part but they are in only at a certain time. However, I do not want to go into that at this stage.
The clause tries to achieve the right kind of balance. The right kind of balance that we saw was an equal partnership among four sections and not three. The first section was the local education authorities. We realised and recognised what an important part LEAs had to play. They were the duly elected representatives of the people and therefore they had to have a major say in the principles and the philosophies of the schools, directed by the education authority. Then we looked at the position of the teachers. We realised that the teachers, too, had an important part to play in the management of schools. They were the workers, they were the people who were there, and therefore they should have a say. With the teachers we took on the other staff in that section.
1315 Then we went a stage further and we brought in the parents. The parents were important, too, because they should have a say. The parents had quite a lot to contribute as to what they saw was happening to their children. They could contribute in that way. Then we went yet a stage further and we thought about the local community. Communities vary throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. We thought about industrialists and local people who could play an active part. In a rural school you may have the local postmaster and the local grocer—people like that who are part of the community. This was our idea of an equal partnership.
Where does the Bill go wrong? I am grateful for what the Government did in 1980 and 1983 in looking at this issue and in bringing in parents. This was good. Bringing in teachers was good as well. Where the Government are going wrong is that the pendulum is swinging again. It is going the wrong way. It is going the wrong way in the sense that, instead of having an equal partnership, you are going to have too many parents on the governing bodies. That is wrong. There will be people who are jealous of the parents' right. There will be lobbying and all kinds of caucuses in the background. This is completely wrong. Getting the numbers right is vital in equal partnerships.
As I said at Second Reading, for goodness sake let us get it right this time because it is so important to the local communities and to the country to get it right. You can get it right if you get the proportions right. I stick to what my committee said. This is important. I ask the Committee to read my committee's report. With due respect to the Committee, I find that quite a number of noble Lords who have contributed so far have never read this report. I know that we did not get it completely right. We produced it for guidance, but many noble Lords are taking part in this debate without knowing the facts and seeing what we saw, hearing what we heard and reading what we had to read. It is all there. It can be obtained from the Printed Paper Office. If noble Lords do that before we go into Committee stage the next time, I am sure that they will find that things are a lot better and they will be a great deal more educated than is the case this afternoon. Please try to get it right and please watch things very carefully.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
I have read the noble Lord's report. I read it when it came out and I have re-read it recently. The Bill as it stands reiterates much that is in the report, but not all of it. But if I may return to the amendment we are discussing, I was a little surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, say that he supports the proposals in the amendment. I think I am right in saying that in the Second Reading debate he said that of all the people he had spoken to he had found none who did not believe additional parental involvement to be a good thing.
If I read the amendment correctly, and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will tell me if I do not, pupils may be involved as governors. The noble Lord has said "pupil governors", but I do not believe that pupils can be governors. I believe that pupil representation on the governing body has to be of a different form. I am very much for pupil involvement but I wait to see how the discussion goes. But if pupils are governors and there 1316 are equal numbers among these categories, the number of parents is reduced in relation to the number of staff. I am surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, is prepared to stand for that. It is absolutely basic in my view to the depoliticisation of the affairs of the governing body that parents should be very well represented.
In addition, and imagining what will happen if this amendment is adopted, subsection (6) says:The local education authority shall determine the proportion of teaching and non-teaching staff representatives on the governing body".When that happens what the local authority will have to do, I should imagine, is to meet the various unions—the teachers' unions, NUPE, NALGO and so on—and come to some agreement with them about what this proportion is going to be.
The large teachers' union will want more representation than the smaller teachers' union, and the non-teaching staff unions will want representation. Quite a little party will be arrived at in order to keep everybody happy. It will then be impossible to balance that with an equal number of parents (even if the pupil governors are left out, and with the governors appointed by the local education authority) without getting a very large governing body, which the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, said he did not want, and I agree with him. It should not be too large.
The balance which I said on Second Reading I thought the Government had got about right has been greatly altered. I do not believe that anyone has pointed that out. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, may dispute that fact, but it seems to me that the balance is bound to be greatly altered.
The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, could not see why the Bill should state that the governing body ought to appoint a chairman. However, on Second Reading, the noble Lord said he thought it was right that the domination of the local authority should be lessened by the legislation. One of the ways in which a local authority dominates a governing body is by dominating the chairmanship of it, by manoeuvring in such a way that the local authority influences who is appointed as chairman—and the chairman is a very important person. It seems to be an excellent idea that, under the Bill, the governing body itself will appoint the chairman—but only of course if it is a properly-balanced governing body.
We are talking about flexibility and I can quite see that the Bill, in trying to arrive at arrangements that would forestall such manoeuvres and manipulations, gives a rather lengthy description of who should be there. However, I personally would rather have a slightly complicated description than risk the kinds of goings on that I have experienced in a schools council and which I know other noble Lords have experienced.
A great deal is altered by the amendment and much of it is very unsatisfactory—quite apart from the maths, which I believe everybody agrees do not add up. Although we need to discuss further the involvement of pupils and possibly the role of the head teachers, I do not believe that this amendment will do at all. I hope that I may have influenced the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, simply on the facts, because I am fairly sure that this amendment is not what he originally wanted.
§ Lord Beloff
We are talking about the creation or the revision of institutions. There are two ways of approaching a problem of that kind. One is to ask: "What are the functions that we wish to see performed, and how can we see them performed most efficiently?". The other is to start with an ideology and see whether we can create something in its image.
Listening to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, I was disappointed to find that he is proposing an amendment that falls into the latter category. I have many of the reservations first enunciated by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and later by other noble Lords.
It is very interesting to remember that precisely the kind of balance that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, seeks was that which was put forward in the Federal Republic of Germany—or rather, in the Northern Länder—at the time when student unrest spread from California to Europe. What they came out with and what the politicians agreed to in a state of panic—which is, alas, so characteristic of politicians!—was a fourfold system of government.
Hitherto, as noble Lords will know, German universities had characteristically been run by the professoriat, just as our schools traditionally and historically were largely run by the headmaster and his staff. Instead, there was proposed a fourfold system of government. If I remember correctly, it gave equal representation for the professoriat, the teaching staff, the non-teaching staff (the janitors, and so forth), and for the students. And so one had those four elements having totally different interests, whether concerned with learning, with teaching, with their own material situation, or whatever it might be.
The result, as those who had any experience of German universities at that time will know, was, as one might expect, total chaos from which, gradually, the universities have recovered.
Therefore, when we are asked to consider widening further the representation either to non-teaching staff or to pupils, we should remember the likely characteristics of both. So far as concerns the teaching staff—and, alas, the non-teaching staff! —then, as my noble friend Lady Carnegy has reminded the Committee, we are giving an additional voice to trade unions. Whatever may be said about the development of education in this country, one cannot say that an unmitigated and direct input from trade unions has always been the most beneficial to the schools.
So far as concerns pupils, the situation is quite different. My noble friend Lord Butterworth spoke of good experience with students on various university bodies, provided always that a great many of the most important subjects were dealt with when they were not in the room. The noble Lord, Lord Blake, has more experience of this. But our experience at Oxford was similar except that their initial enthusiasm for participation gradually gave way to boredom, and boredom produced absenteeism. This point is important because if it is true of students—that is to say, young people of 18 years of age and over—then it is likely to be even more true of youngsters under the age of 18.
1318 Much of the work that is done by governing bodies—and I use that phrase loosely—in universities and in schools is important, but it is detailed and tedious, and not work that is likely to attract any but those who have a sense of it being part of their obligation.
The experience of student participation in Germany and in other countries has been intermittent interest in the affairs under discussion. Some issues may arouse considerable political feeling. Under modern conditions, one can imagine an enormous amount of time being spent, let us say, on a matter such as relationships between the schools and the police, when the important matter of whether money is to be spent on the roof or on the "loo" is left aside.
In other words, if we start with functions and ask, "What does a governing body have to do? What is the input that we require?", then it is obvious, as the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, observed, that there must be a major input from the teaching staff. It is desirable—not for democratic reasons or because LEAs are elected, because they are elected for reasons that have very little to do with education—that, as part of the local community, the local education authorities should continue to be represented without being dominant. We agree with the experiment of parent participation, on the ground that parents may see reflected through how their offspring perform the performance of a school in a way in which the other components of the governing body may not immediately perceive it.
I would have thought that the original version of the clause, while I do not find it perfect, does at any rate give the opportunity to concentrate upon function rather than to concentrate upon ideology, I hope that the noble Lord will not accept the amendment that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has put forward.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
May I say a few words in reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour? I favour the addition of parents. They are, of course, a very welcome and necessary addition to governing bodies. I also favour the inclusion of pupil governors. Subsection (2)(a) of the amendment states:parent governors, with pupil governors where the local education authority considers it appropriate".It seems as though the local education authorities are to decide whether or not to have pupil governors, possibly according to the size of the body as a whole. I think it would be regrettable if pupil governors could only be added to governing bodies at the expense of a number of parent governors. It may be possible to re-draft the amendment in such a way to ensure that that is not so.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
I hope to speak only briefly on this amendment. Let me start by agreeing strongly with what has been said by my noble friend Lord Ritchie of Dundee. I do not start with a passionate prejudice against pupil governors. I sit on the governing body of a polytechnic in London which includes students, who play a useful role. However, I would be very concerned at any suggestion that pupil governors should be substituted for parents. I can see the sort of political massaging that could go on in some local education authorities to bring about what would be, in my view, an extremely unsatisfactory outcome.
1319 We must recognise that one of the great advances that is being made in this Bill is to give parents a position which hitherto they have not possessed. I was involved in local politics in Essex some years ago and participated, I may say—and one must not be selfrighteous—with enthusiasm in the process of removing the opposition party's representatives on school managing bodies as soon as one's own party was in a majority on the local authority. As we all know, that has been the tradition. For a very long period in Essex power at County Hall, Chelmsford, changed every three years: so what happened every three years was a tremendous clearing out process of a substantial number of governors of schools.
That was manifestly ridiculous, because no interest was taken at all as to whether the people concerned had played a useful role in the management of the school. In circumstances of that sort the fact that we are moving to a situation where parents will have far more substantial rights in the balance of forces (if I may say so describe it) on boards of governors I think is highly advantageous.
I should also like to say, concerning the point on pupil governors and following the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Butterworth, that if we are to have pupil governors—and I am not a passionate opponent of the idea—one must go far further than does this amendment in defining precisely their role within the governing body. I would be firmly opposed to pupil governors making any staff appointments or being involved in disciplinary processes in the schools.
I give one good example of why I consider that to be a bad idea. I refer to the graffiti dispute in Manchester. A most deplorable decision was taken by the local education authority not to support the board of governors of a school which had taken action against a group of pupils who had been writing offensive graffiti of a sexist and racial character. Are we really going to contemplate a situation where pupil governors would in some way be able to arbitrate within the governing body in such matters? I should have thought that to be self-evidently undesirable. It could poison relations still further within the school, in my view.
I repeat that for the reasons I have given I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will, as I think he has already indicated, look at some aspects of his amendment before the next stage of the Bill. I hope that he will look at these particular points because, speaking entirely for myself, I believe it is important that if we are to move in the direction set out here the amendment must be drawn far more precisely than it is at the moment.
§ Baroness Young
It is now some time since the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, rose to move this amendment. In the course of that time we have had a very interesting discussion during which a number of very important issues have been raised.
The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, began his remarks by saying that he recognised the sincerity of the Government on this matter. I am glad that he does because Clause 3 is a central clause in this important Bill, as the noble Lord acknowledged. His amendment to insert a completely new clause into the Bill, based approximately on the report of the noble Lord, Lord 1320 Taylor, would crucially affect the Bill. For that reason I am sure he will understand right at the beginning that this is not an amendment which the Government can accept. May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that I confess it is some time since I read his report, but I did read it when it was published and I again referred to it in preparation for the debate today.
On Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, indicated that he would be moving an amendment in which he hoped to make governing bodies both more flexible and more representative. I think those were his exact words. It may be helpful to turn first to this important issue of flexibility. There are only four main solutions to the proposed formula, with either two, three, four or five individuals in each of the four main blocks of parents, and possibly pupils, of the local education authority, of the staff, of the co-opted members and, in the case of a controlled school, of the foundation governors. The overall shape of each solution is very similar to the formulae which we have arrived at in Clause 3. In this case there is an increase in the number in the staff block which is at the expense of those in the co-opted category and it leads to some increase in size.
Many of your Lordships have commented on the effect of this amendment on parent representation, and I was very interested in what my noble friend Lady Carnegy said because she recognised the importance of an increase in parent representation for all the reasons that have been given. Indeed, she quoted what the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, said at Second Reading. I was also interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said on this matter.
By this amendment, some flexibility would be permitted in each block. It is proposed, for example, that the local education authority may determine that up to half the parent governor places may be taken by pupils. The point that both my noble friend Lady Carnegy and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, made, which is correct, is that on the smallest governing body this would actually reduce parent representation to below the level provided for in the Education Act 1980. Indeed, if the local education authority allocated the maximum permitted places to pupils, only for the largest governing body would there be an increase—by one—over the 1980 Act's requirement that there should be a minimum of two parent governors. It seems to me that for those reasons those who are concerned about the position of parents on governing bodies cannot possibly support this amendment.
I now come to teacher governors. Here the local education authority has to decide how to apportion places in the staff block between teachers and non-teaching staff. If the quota of non-teaching staff is maximised there would be fewer teacher governors in the larger schools than is now required by the 1980 Act and in the future by Clause 3. I find it very difficult to believe that this is the intention of those members who are moving the amendment, but this indeed will be one of its consequences.
Perhaps I may now turn to the foundation governors. I was interested in what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London had to say. The local 1321 education authority has to determine the allocation of places between co-opted and foundation governors for a controlled school. In no case does the minimum quota of foundation governors meet the minimum requirement of the 1980 Act, as the right reverend Prelate made clear. Such a requirement, that the foundation should have one fifth of the governorships, is preserved under Clause 3 of the Bill. This is important because it recognises the foundation's role in the initial provision of controlled schools and their continuing stake in the schools' provision for religious education.
The right reverend Prelate said how concerned he was that this amendment was attacking the basis of the dual system of education. From what the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has subsequently said, I recognise that this was not his intention, but the fact remains that the amendment as drafted attacks the basis of the dual system of education and as it stands it would need considerable amendment if that effect were to be removed. I think that what happens about foundation governors is important. Indeed, only for the largest governing body does the maximum foundation entitlement meet the 20 per cent. criterion which was laid down in the Education Act 1980.
At Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, made it clear that he was against the political domination of governing bodies, and this is a point with which I entirely agree. Almost everyone who spoke in that debate recognised that one of the main aims of the Bill was to prevent that situation occurring. In this amendment the local education authority would not have a majority under the proposed clause, but if it decided to allocate some of the parent governorships to pupils—which would be a temptation—local education authority appointees would be the single largest block of governors. This was precisely the point made by my noble friend Lord Butterworth. It would have the effect that the other blocks, the parents and the teachers, could become fragmented, with quite a number of lone representatives. One of the problems that parents sometimes find if they constitute the single parent on a governing body is that unless they are very confident and very experienced their position is much more isolated than if there were other parents there to support them.
The cumulative effect would be to leave the local education authority as the dominating, coherent voice on the governing body, which would frustrate the main aim of the Bill of re-establishing governing 'bodies with a clear identity and sense of purpose of their own within the carefully drawn framework of responsibilities as set out in Part III of the Bill. It is important to remember that composition and functions must go hand in hand.
In the course of the debates on this Bill I am sure that we shall return to the question of pupil governors, but I was interested to hear what my noble friend Lord Butterworth and the noble Lords, Lord Beloff and Lord Harris of Greenwich, had to say. The Government have been criticised for being anti-youth in that this Bill precludes governorships being held by minors. There is an important reason why this is so. It is because it reflects our view that a governorship is an office of public and pecuniary trust which may not properly be held by a minor.
1322 I recognise that there are contrary legal views, but that is why we seek in this Bill to put the matter beyond doubt. Yet even if there were no legal problem, it seems wholly inappropriate for pupils to be governors of their schools, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris, gave us an illustration of this point. I am the first to agree that pupil involvement and motivation are vital ingredients of a successful school, but I think few would argue that it would be right for pupils to be formally involved as governors in matters of, say, staff appointments or dismissal.
Indeed, my noble friend Lord Butterworth gave us examples from his experience in the university world of having to have various matters reserved. Should it be the case that matters in a school were reserved, the effect would be to create a category of second-class governors, and I think that this would be an invidious distinction to draw. However, I think it is important that ways should be found of involving students appropriately in the work of governing bodies, as observers or through school councils.
I should now like to turn to the question of teachers. Here the Government have been accused of not according teachers an equal share in the governing body. We think that this is unfair because we believe it misrepresents the role of the teacher and the governing body, which is essentially a lay body between the local education authority and the school staff. The teaching staff are intimately involved in the day-to-day running of the school and while their voice should clearly be heard on the governing body—and Clause 3 provides for this—their special status could give them undue influence over the other governors if their numbers were increased.
A number of members of the Committee, notably my noble friend Lord Butterworth, have commented on the position of support staff. The numbers would vary from school to school and in some cases they would be very small. Such staff obviously have a part to play in the life of the school, but given the real constraints of the size and overall balance it did not seem that there was a sufficiently distinctive contribution to be made by non-teaching staff to warrant a mandatory voice on the governing body. If the governing body wished, however, it could involve non-teaching staff, as it could others, by inviting them as observers or, if it thought fit, by co-option.
I have gone into considerable detail of the points on this amendment because I recognise that it is an important amendment, and I think it is right that the Government's response should go into detail and explain the reasons why we are unable to accept it. Perhaps I may sum up in this way. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, made an important point when he said that we should concentrate much more on functions than on representation, but the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London drew attention to the effect of the amendment as currently drafted on the dual system of education and on the size of governing bodies. My noble friend, Lord Butterworth drew attention to local education authority domination in certain circumstances. My noble friend Baroness Carnegy drew attention to the erosion of parent power. The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, like the right reverend Prelate, drew attention to the ultimate size of possible governing bodies. These are very serious 1323 criticisms and it seems to me that the Committee ought to think carefully before giving support to the amendment which goes quite against the purposes of the Bill.
I have spelled out in detail the position of the Government and I have said why we are not able to accept this amendment. In those circumstances, I have no hesitation in urging the Committee to reject it.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
The Committee must be grateful to the Minister for the sensitivity with which she has responded to the points made in the debate and for her detailed examination of them. I suppose it was inevitable that an amendment of this sort, coming first in Part II of the Bill, would flush out all the difficulties that are likely to occur in any solution which may be found for the composition of governing bodies. Indeed, we have had a debate which has anticipated almost all the discussions which might take place on subsequent amendments on Part II of the Bill. I do not object to that at all because the amendment introduces many points for the first time.
I feel slightly less sympathetic with Lord Beloff's complaint that the amendment does not actually solve the problems of the functions of the governing body as well. That comes in Part III of the Bill. I do not think that he could seriously expect a single amendment to resolve in advance all of the issues or functions of the governing bodies which will undoubtedly be debated when we come to further amendments. It seems that a good deal of the time has been taken up in discussing the role of pupils and the role of non-teaching staff, support staff, on a governing body. Although this is not the crux of the amendment as proposed, I think it is necessary to spend a moment or two dealing with that.
First of all, although it is true that the amendment provides that any pupil governors should come from the quarter allocated to parents, there are two qualifications to that which are quite fundamental. The first qualification is that there shall only be pupil governors if the local people, through the local education authority, actually want them, and they can reject them if they do not want them. Secondly, the amendment specifically provides that the number of parents shall exceed the number of pupils in that quarter, so that some of the fears of parental involvement in the governing body being too low I think are somewhat exaggerated.
The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, seems to think that pupil governors would somehow be local authority appointees and could be added to the local authority numbers on the governing body. That, certainly, is not the intention and is not the practice. Pupil governors are—or have been where they exist—elected from among the pupils above a given age. It has never been my experience in dealing with pupil governors that they have in any way acted as appointees of the local authority. On the contrary, there are many occasions when the pupil governors have been most effective spokesmen for the school against what they conceive to be any injustice or intrusion by the local authority or inadequacy by the local authority in provision for the school.
In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Butterworth, the introduction of the local option for pupil governors is 1324 not, as he put it, a departure or an experiment. It is something that happens now and which would actually be ruled out by this Bill. It is not something which in any way would be imposed.
The second issue raised by a number of noble Lords was that of the teacher representation and the representation of non-teaching staff. It somehow appears to be suggested that this is going to become a matter for negotiation between the teaching unions and the non-teaching unions. I cannot for the life of me think how that is going to happen more under the terms of the amendment than it does under the terms of Clause 3 as it is in the Bill. Where there is to be a teacher representation and where there are schools which have teacher representation now, the experience is that the governors are elected by the teaching staff.
There may or may not be union involvement, but if there are going to be teacher governors at all, we have to run the risk that there is going to be union involvement in the election of teachers. The provision for non-teaching staff simply says that there shall be at least one representative of non-teaching staff. In view of the increasingly important role which non-teaching staff play, not only in the maintenance of the premises but in ancillary work in laboratories, and in many subjects, I do not think this is an unreasonable addition, and certainly it seems entirely appropriate that this representation of the people working in the school should be within the one quarter of the total governing body provided for that function.
So although I understand the fears which some noble Lords have about pupil governors, and I understand the fears which there might be about non-teaching staff, these are not borne out by the terms of the amendment and they are not the essential issue with which the amendment is concerned. The Government is wrong in laying down for different sizes of school an absolutely precise number of governors from each category, and the amendment says that there should be more flexibility on the size of governing bodies, more opportunity for local authorities and local people to make their own decisions as to how big the governing bodies should be.
I do not think the right reverend Prelate—if I may go back to his opening remarks—need fear that this amendment either imposes too large governing bodies or too small governing bodies. It is the Government's own Clause 3 which absolutely rigidly lays down how big governing bodies shall be. If the right reverend Prelate or any other noble Lord is concerned that there ought to be differences in the size of the governing bodies, then they ought to support the amendment because it is only under the amendment that it will be possible for there to be variation in size, because that certainly is not what is provided, with one small exception of schools with more than 600 pupils choosing to be in class 4 rather than in class 5. With that exception, the Bill as drafted is completely rigid on this matter.
This is not simply a matter of wording. This is an attempt to see to it that local conditions, and particularly the possibility of reflection of local conditions in co-opted governors, shall be taken into account and that the Government shall not be tying local authorities, parents and teachers hand and foot.
1325 The noble Baroness said that this was against the purpose of the Bill. I really must contest that. It is within the spirit of the Bill, within the fundamental agreement that we all had at Second Reading of the need for wider representation, more democracy in the governing of our schools. Nothing in the amendment takes away from that, and if there are defects in the wording these are comparatively minor defects. I can give an undertaking that if this amendment is pressed anything which would affect the dual system, with which the right reverend Prelate is very properly concerned, will be removed at an appropriate stage.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said, and I should like to make two points. First of all, on the size of the governing bodies, to which he has already referred, my point is that the Bill, as it stands, sets ceilings on governing bodies for different sized schools. The amendment does not, and it would not, prevent very considerably sized governing bodies being created for relatively small schools. So I do not think his argument stands there.
On the second point of the dual system, I take what he said earlier about the major assault, as it appeared to be, on the dual system, and I would not wish to press that in view of what he said earlier on. He has laid great weight on the equal representation of the different elements involved; but he has in the process reduced the number of foundation governors, who are an integral part of the government of any controlled school, to well below what is required in the 1980 Act. It is two out of nine, three out of 12, four out of 16, four out of 19 in the case of what is proposed in the Bill as it stands; but he provides for no more in his amendment than that there should be at least one. Frankly, I do not think it can be said that to reduce the number of foundation governors in a controlled school (which would, say, have 20 governors) to one, is not in some way an encroachment on the dual system as it stands.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
After an extremely interesting debate and before the noble Lord decides what to do about the amendment, I should perhaps say that I feel that a number of valid points have been raised. I would have preferred to go back to something nearer to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor's distribution of membership of governing bodies. I am still concerned about the proportion allocated to teachers in the Government's proposals in the Bill. I feel that this is a matter to which we could come back at a later stage of the Bill.
I must also inform the noble Lord that I am personally unhappy with subsection (5); that is to say, the invasion of the putative pupil governors of the parents' allocation. We on these Benches are broadly in favour of pupil representation. However, we do not believe that what is proposed is quite the right way to go about it. There are later amendments to the Bill that address this problem. On those grounds, I hope very much that the noble Lord will take back the amendment and return with something that we can all examine at Report stage.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am grateful for the interventions of the right reverend Prelate and of the 1326 noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock. I am bound to say that I do not feel that the provision that there should be at least one foundation governor is, or ought to be, a restriction on the maximum number. A local authority that wishes to comply with the principles of the 1980 Act will have every opportunity to do so. There is no reason why foundation governors should not be a very major part of that section of the governing body. The fundamental issue—the same point arises in response to what the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, says—is whether we are going to lay down every single dot and comma of the composition of governing bodies in this Committee and from Parliament. Or are we going to leave some option open to local authorities? That is the essence of what this is about.
Within the spirit of the Bill and within the widening of the franchise of governing bodies, what this amendment says, despite defects that I do not believe are fundamental, is that we widen the franchise of governing bodies and leave local authorities with the power, yes, sometimes to make mistakes. Local authorities will make mistakes. But we do not attempt to lay down every single thing on the face of the Bill. Although appreciating the force of the points that the noble Lord makes, the principle of local responsibility and local input as regards the composition of governing bodies is such that I should not withdraw the amendment at this time.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
Before the noble Lord finally decides, is he saying in subsection (6) that the local education authority, in determining the proportion of teaching and non-teaching staff, is likely to do so without consulting unions? Is he denying my point that if it consults the unions, the body will get larger rather than smaller and that this will increase the whole number? That is basic to his argument. The noble Lord says that the body does not have to be very big. I was trying to make the point that subsection (6) means that there will have to be negotiation with the unions, that the numbers will increase and that, if the other representation is to be maintained, it will become a rather large body. Is the noble Lord denying that?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
If there is to be any teacher representation, then, on the noble Baroness's argument, there would have to be negotiation with the unions. That applies whether or not the amendment is carried. It applies under Clause 3 without this amendment. The only addition here is the possibility and the requirement that there should be at least one member of the non-teaching staff. This makes no difference to the fundamental issue.
The fundamental issue, I must repeat, is whether there is going to be any flexibility at all for local authorities to adapt to the needs of their own areas as between schools or for the whole of their schools. Or is everything going to be laid down from Whitehall or Elizabeth House? I do not believe that this Committee should express the view that local authorities and people living in this country are not capable of making decisions of their own on matters of this kind. I beg to move.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No.4) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: contents, 64; Not-contents, 150.1328
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Barnett, L.||McCarthy, L.|
|Birk, B.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Milford, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Buckmaster, V.||Mulley, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Caradon, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Oram, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Collison, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|David, B. [Teller.]|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Rea, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Ross of Marnock, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Serota, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Heycock, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Wheatley, L.|
|Kagan, L.||White, B.|
|Kirkhill, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Kissin, L.||Willis, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||De La Warr, E.|
|Aldington, L.||Denham, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Digby, L.|
|Arran, E.||Dilhorne, V.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Donegall, M.|
|Auckland, L.||Drumalbyn, L.|
|Bauer, L.||Dundee, E.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Beloff, L.||Elliott of Morpeth, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Elton, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Faithfull, B.|
|Bethell, L.||Fanshawe of Richmond, L.|
|Blake, L.||Ferrers, E.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Ferrier, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Fortescue, E.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||Gainford, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Gisborough, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Glanusk, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Gray of Contin, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Greenway, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.|
|Chelwood, L.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Henley, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Holderness, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Home of the Hirsel, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Hood, V.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Hooper, B.|
|Davidson, V.||Hunter of Newington, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Portland, D.|
|Kearton, L.||Radnor, E.|
|Killern, L.||Reigate, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Renton, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Renwick, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Rodney, L.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Lawrence, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Layton, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Liverpool, Bp.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|London, Bp.||Selkirk, E.|
|Long, V. [Teller.]||Shannon, E.|
|Lothian, M.||Sharples, B.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|McFadzean, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|MacLehose of Beoch, L.||Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Somers, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Mancroft, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Manton, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Marley, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Marshall of Leeds, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Mersey, V.||Trumpington, B.|
|Milverton, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Montague of Beaulieu, L.||Vinson, L.|
|Montgomery of Alamein, V.||Vivian, L.|
|Mottistone, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Mountevans, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Munster, E.||Windlesham, L.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Wise, L.|
|Nugent of Guildford, L.||Wolfson, L.|
|Orkney, E.||Wynford, L.|
|Pender, L.||Young, B.|
|Perth, E.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 3 [Governing bodies for county, controlled and maintained special schools]:
§ 6.3 p.m.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 4, line 3, at end insert ("and one support staff governor").
§ The noble Lord said: Accepting the decision of the Committee, we now have to do this the hard way. We tried to avoid the kind of detailed amendments which are necessary in order to achieve the objective of wider representation on governing bodies in the form in which the Government want it; that is, by prescription in the greatest detail to local education authorities. The Committee in its wisdom did not see it that way. This is the alternative approach.
§ In moving Amendment No. 5, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 6 and 7, 9, 10 and 11, 13, 14 and 15, and 17, 18 and 19. Perhaps I may briefly explain why the grouping is carried out in this way. Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are intended, without amending in any other way the composition of governing bodies, to increase the representation of teachers together with one representative of support staff so that teachers have equal representation with parents and with the local education authority. In broad terms, that is the same objective as we sought in 1329 Amendment No. 4 without the flexibility about numbers which the Committee has decided that it does not want.
§ Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 apply that principle to the smallest group of schools. Amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 11 apply it to the next group of schools. Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15 apply the principle to the next group of schools in terms of size—pupil number. Amendments Nos. 17, 18 and 19 apply it to the largest schools.
§ Having said that, and having said that the intention is much simpler than the amendments appear to be—simply to increase the teacher representation—I suspect that a great deal of the debate which took place on the previous amendment ought to be read into the record because we have discussed the representation of teachers, though perhaps not as much as we have discussed pupil governors who are covered by Amendments Nos. 8, 12, 16 and 20.
§ Lord Renton
Will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I should be grateful if he could clarify one point. The noble Lord has several times mentioned that he wants to increase the representation of teachers. However, his amendments would seem to have the effect of adding one support staff governor, if one refers to his first group of amendments. Is the noble Lord using that as being synonymous with the word "teacher"?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
No. The first amendment adds support staff, but I phrased it badly. The proposal is not necessarily to increase the number of teachers. That is not the way it works. It is to achieve equality between teachers and parents and the local education authority. That is the objective. I am grateful to the noble Lord for correcting me on that.
§ Lord Renton
I am very sorry to have to seek further clarification. I hope that I am not taking up time unnecessarily. What does the noble Lord really mean by "support staff"?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
Support staff are those employed in the school who are not teachers. They are those responsible for the physical maintenance of the school, those who help, for example, as laboratory assistants, and those responsible for catering and matters of that kind. This is an issue that was discussed in our consideration of the previous amendment.
We return to the issue that has been discussed but I hope that we come back to it in a way that does not again raise the difficulties which other noble Lords, particularly noble Lords on the Benches on my right, saw with the previous amendment. We can deal with pupil governors at a later stage, but the issue of pupil governors does not arise under these amendments. The issue here is solely to achieve the equality which was the basis of the Taylor Report and which is supported, I may say, not only (fairly obviously) by the teaching unions but also by local authority associations and by the national associations representing governors and managers and associations for the advancement of state education.
The point was adequately made on Second Reading that if we are to achieve the level of partnership to 1330 which the noble Lord, Lord Butterworth, referred in the debate this afternoon as among those working in the school, those sending their children to the school and those responding to the electors who make the financial provision for the school, surely the rational approach is to have equal numbers of all three groups on the governing body.
If that is the Government's approach, I believe that all of the groups and all of the interests that I have mentioned will be satisfied and will feel that the Government have paid good attention to the points which have been made by all of those bodies in the years following the Taylor Report and, indeed, to the responses to the White Paper, Better Schools, which was the precursor of this legislation. The Government and the Committee will be well familiar with the arguments and it would be inappropriate for me to repeat them at excessive length. I beg to move.
§ Lord Renton
I am sorry to say that I do not go along with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, in the arguments that he has put forward in support of the amendments so far as I am capable of understanding them. I think that I understand his main motive which seems to be to get onto the governing bodies somebody representing the non-teaching staff—in other words, various non-teaching staff: the ladies who provide the meals, the man who looks after the boiler or perhaps the person who cleans the windows and so on. However, I do not think that it is as important to have those people represented on the governing body as it is to maintain the representation which the Government have in mind, which is expressed in the Bill and which I support.
I should like to invite your Lordships to consider this matter particularly in relation to special schools. Indeed, perhaps I should declare my interest in the special schools for the mentally handicapped. In the case of those schools the parent governors will necessarily be parents of children attending the special schools and therefore parents, for example, of mentally handicapped children. That is very proper. However, in the case of special schools there are other people who should be on the governing body. Indeed, perhaps there should even be an extra parent or somebody who from one point of view or another is involved with the problem of the special school, whether it be for the mentally handicapped or for any other form of disability.
In relation to each size of school the Bill provides the number of people to be appointed by the local authority and the number of people to be co-opted. As regards this Bill we have the most helpful Notes on Clauses which it has yet been my good fortune to study in relation to a complicated Bill. I am so glad to see the noble Lord opposite nodding his head in agreement. I am sure that we should acknowledge that fact, whatever other criticisms we may have, and I shall have some to make later. The effects of Clause 3 have been very well set out in an annex to the notes on Clause 3 of the Bill. The pages are not numbered, but if we study that annex we can see both what the effect of the Bill will be so far as the composition of the governors is concerned and also what would be the effect of the groups of amendments.
1331 6.15 p.m.
The main reason why I am not in favour of the amendments proposed by the noble Lord is that it seems that he can achieve his object only by reducing, for example, the number of co-opted governors in the case of the first group from three to two, in the case of the second group from four to three, and so on. In my view such a course would be a pity. To give an example in which I am particularly interested, it would reduce the chance of the local branch of MENCAP having a co-opted governor which, as I understand it, is envisaged as a possibility by Clause 6.
Therefore, having declared my motive for wanting the Bill to remain as it is in those respects, and the noble Lord having declared his motive for wanting to change it, I say in all humility that I think that my motive is a slightly more worthy one.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
I should like to contribute to the debate because my name is attached to the amendment, but I was not certain about the way in which we were to deal with the grouping and hence I did not speak in the early stage. What has been said about co-opted governors is true. However, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that he should beware of co-opted governors as they stand at present. I know that the noble Lord has had experience of special schools but he needs to have experience of other schools as well, because he will find that a great many co-opted governors are political governors disguised under all kinds of names. We must be very careful about this. With a change at County Hall or a change of local authority the co-opted governors will change as well. The amendment does away with some of those people and brings back into the government of the school those people who really can contribute to it.
I do not think that the noble Lord was against bringing in the dinner ladies or perhaps the person who looks after the boiler and so on. Those people are very useful members of the staff and can make a contribution. That is especially so of the small schools, because a great many people realise how important are such people as caretakers. In certain schools the caretaker is more important than the head teacher in keeping the school going. I would never belittle them. A great many of such people have wide experience and they can make a good contribution. Therefore, I would welcome their election to the governing body.
§ Lord Renton
As the noble Lord so kindly warned me of the danger of politics rearing its ugly head, I point out to him that he is surely inviting that danger by asking for members of the support staff to come along who may very well be active trade unionists and possibly members, for example, of NUPE. As he is worried about the possibility of politics entering into the life of schools, I invite his attention to the amendments which have been tabled by some noble Lords, including myself, to Clause 16.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
I hope that they are active members of their appropriate trade union. I hope that all members of a trade union are active and supportive members. We should not be in half the trouble that we are in at present if most of them were active.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
It might be helpful if I respond to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, first. I appreciate his deep concern and interest, particularly with mentally handicapped children, and I think it is only responsible of me to acknowledge the worthiness of his motives, at the same time saying that I think his objections to the amendment are misconceived. If the noble Lord is worried that in order to bring up teacher representation—because there is much more about teacher representation than support staff representation; it only happens that in the first group it occurs by adding one support staff, in all the other groups you are adding teachers as well—we have to reduce the number of co-opted members, which is indeed the case in order not to have excessively large governing bodies, he ought to have supported Amendment No. 4, which left the issue of the total size of the governing body open to local decision.
The provision that he understandably wants for special schools for a reasonable number of co-opted governorships to represent organisations like MENCAP could very well have been handled within the context of Amendment No. 4. They are, I concede, more difficult to handle within the context of Clause 3 as it is drafted.
It is an unfortunate side effect that there is the possibility of co-opted governors being reduced in order to provide equal representation for the four major groups, but, as my noble friend Lord Taylor has said, unfortunately—I assume not in special schools—historically in county schools local authorities of strong political persuasions have sought to reinforce their own politics by using their co-opted places as well as the local authority nominated places.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
I should like to say a word in strong agreement with the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, in supporting the idea of support staff in a school. These people who caretake and look after the children out of the school, and look after the school when no one else is there, are terribly important and often get forgotten. They are the people who know about the school from the inside. If one had to make a choice I would choose members of the staff of that sort rather than any outsiders. I wanted to say that, though I must also say that it would be regrettable if one could only accommodate them on a governing body at the expense of co-opted or foundation governors.
§ Baroness Young
As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said in opening his support for these linked amendments, we are in fact taking one by one a number of the points raised in the long debate we have just had on Amendment No. 4. The effect of these amendments is to seek to include on governing bodies for county, controlled and maintained special schools additional teacher governors and a new category of support staff governors, at the same time reducing the number of co-opted and, in the case of a controlled school, foundation governors.
I appreciate (certainly having listened to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh) that these changes are broadly in line with the "equal shares" recommendation of the committee chaired some 10 years ago by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Blackburn. The Government 1333 welcome the work that that committee did because it opened up the whole matter of school governors for discussion. It made a number of proposals, and as I have already said I, and I am quite sure many of my noble friends, have read Lord Taylor's report and have studied it.
However, the Government do not accept the recommendations as they now stand. One reason is that thinking has moved on since then, not least to accommodate the particular needs of controlled schools. I think the noble Lord's committee concentrated on the issues concerning county schools.
The Government do not believe that the partnership required has necessarily to be reflected by equal numbers of governorships. The governing body is not the only manifestation of that partnership: it exists also in the interaction of the local education authority, the governing body, and the school staff. And for that interaction to be meaningful, the governing body's voice needs to be informed by the views of other interests but, if appropriate, distinct from them.
As we have discussed in connection with the new clause in our last debate, the number of governorships allocated to teachers in Clause 3 does not undervalue the contribution teachers can and should make to the work of governing bodies. It recognises the very powerful voice and role they have by virtue of their day-to-day role in the school. We also discussed the role of non-teaching staff where the Government are unpersuaded of the need to allocate specific governorships to such staff as a category.
I recognise of course the concerns of the non-teaching staff, but there are many ways in which their interests can he taken into consideration by the governing body without allocating formal governorships. And if a particular governing body thought fit it could use its powers of co-option to add members of the non-teaching staff. I noticed, in fact, that taking the staff representation proposed in this amendment as a single block, this would outnumber any other single category of governor by one. I really cannot believe that that is the right decision when we are seeking to give a governing body its own distinctive voice.
I am pleased to see that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London is in his place because there is a proposed reduction in the foundation governors—this is in fact Amendment No. 6, to which we are also speaking—which occurs even without the proposed increase in the total size. It would result in foundation representation below the one-fifth guaranteed in the 1980 Act. This continues to be important as it reflects the foundation's continuing interest in, and certain functions regarding, the schools, all of which is part of the 1944 Act settlement underlying the dual system.
Leaving aside the three problems which we see—the role of the non-teaching staff, which we believe can be catered for in Clause 3 by the possibility of co-option, by the possibility of their coming on specific occasions as observers or by other means of taking account of their views which might properly need to be done from time to time—and the problem that we would get by having the teachers as the largest group of representatives on governing bodies, we have the fundamental problem of the foundation governors.
I shall not repeat the arguments so well put by the 1334 right reverend Prelate on the preceding amendment, but I think that to reduce the foundation element to one would be a serious step to take, and would go a long way to undermining the dual system. It is of course arguable that that is a minimum number, but as we all know it can so easily become a maximum. It is when it becomes a maximum that we then of course have undermined the dual system.
For all these reasons the Government cannot accept these amendments, but in saying that I should like to make plain our concern, as is shown under Clause 3, for the important role that teachers do play, and will play, in governing bodies under our proposals.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
May I go back a little way in what the noble Baroness said? When the Taylor Committee was set up our terms of reference were made clear. We were concerned with county schools and not with the dual system. When the statement was first made in the other place saying that the committee was going to be formed, and so on, it was very wide, but a few weeks afterwards I received a letter from the then Secretary of State informing us not to concern ourselves with the dual system, even though there were two representatives of the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church on the committee.
At a later date—and the right reverned Prelate the Bishop of London will correct me if I am wrong—the Church set up a committee on similar lines. They made their recommendations from there onwards. I am not certain whether the right reverend Prelate was chairman of the schools committee at that time.
§ Baroness Young
I should much regret it if the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, were to take personally any remarks I have made. I was trying to set out what his committee was saying, what the amendment does and why the Government disagree with certain parts of it. I hope that he will accept what I said in that spirit.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
This has inevitably been a somewhat truncated debate because of the wide coverage of the previous amendment. But it is the only opportunity we have to secure, within the framework of the Bill, the objective to which my noble friend Lord Taylor has referred. It is not that there should be more teachers than any other group. That would not result from any of these amendments. The intention is to increase the number of teachers and support staff which together will equal the number of parents, the number of nominees of the local education authority and the number of co-opted governors to represent other interests. I do not understand in what way the Minister can argue that we are putting more teachers in than any other of the three groups. Perhaps she will help me.
§ Baroness Young
I should be happy to try to explain the arithmetic as I understand it. Under the proposed series of amendments, if we take the smallest school, there would be one teacher, one head teacher and one member of the support staff: that is three. There would be two parents, two local authority nominees and two co-opted members. My point is that there would be more staff than in the group of parents, the local authority representatives or the co-opted members. The staff would be the largest group. However, it 1335 would not be larger than all the other groups put together. I am sorry if my English was not as precise as it should have been. Nevertheless, the arithmetic works out that there would be more staff than similar representatives in each of the other groups.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am grateful for that, because the arithmetic is achieved by adding in the head teacher to the number of teachers. I suggest to the Committee that the role of the head teacher on a governing body is different from the role of a teacher governor, even if the head teacher chooses to be a governor. The Bill as drafted provides for the possibility of the head teacher electing not to be a governor, but the head teacher may decide to be a governor. The role, in my experience, is that the head teacher reports the facts of the events in the school and the provision made by the school to the governing body rather than acting as a voting member of the governing body, although one hopes that governing bodies do not take too many votes. I suggest that it is not legitimate to add the head teacher to the teachers' number, for a wise head teacher stands apart from the governing body to that extent, reporting to it and acting on its decisions, rather than taking part in the debates in the normal way.
Bearing that point in mind I suggest that the objective of the Taylor Committee—which is certainly appropriate for the county schools and also for the controlled and maintained special schools—of equality among the four major interested parties in the government of our schools is a proper emphasis which should be supported by the Committee. I beg to move.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 76; Not-Contents, 125.1336
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Airedale, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Howie of Troon, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Irving of Dartford, L.|
|Birk, B.||Jeger, B.|
|Bottomley, L.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||John-Mackie, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Longford, E.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||McCarthy, L.|
|Collison, L.||McGregor of Durris, L.|
|David, B.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Donoughue, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Nicol, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Oram, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Paget of Northampton, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Grey, E.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Hooson, L.||Rea, L.|
|Ritchie of Dundee, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Rochester, L.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Ross of Marnock, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Seear, B.||Vernon, L.|
|Sefton of Garston, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Serota, B.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Shepherd, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Silkin of Dulwich, L.||Wheatley, L.|
|Stedman, B.||White, B.|
|Stewart of Fulham, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Stoddart of Swindon, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.|
|Aldington, L.||London, Bp.|
|Allerton, L.||Long, V. [Teller.]|
|Ampthill, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||McFadzean, L.|
|Bauer, L.||MacLehose of Beoch, L.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Marley, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Marshall of Leeds, L.|
|Blake, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||Merrivale, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Munster, E.|
|Chelmer, L.||Newall, L.|
|Chelwood, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Orkney, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Pender, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Platt of Writtle, B.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Plummer of St Marylebone, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Portland, D.|
|De La Warr, E.||Radnor, E.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Reigate, L.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Renton, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Renwick, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Rodney, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Elton, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Ferrers, E.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Feversham, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Fortescue, E.||Sharples, B.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Shrewsbury, E.|
|Gainford, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Gisborough, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Glanusk, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Henley, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Holderness, L.||Tryon, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Hooper, B.||Vivian, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Inglewood, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Kimberley, E.||Wise, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Wolfson, L.|
|Lane-Fox, B.||Wynford, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Young, B.|
|Lawrence, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.1337
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ [Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 not moved.]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 4, line 9, at end insert—
("( ) two pupil governors, in the case of a school admitting pupils of 14 years of age and over.").
§ The noble Lord said: The debate on this amendment and on the others which follow from it, Amendments Nos. 12, 16 and 20—and I believe there are others but I do not think that it is of great significance to read them out—has again been covered to a considerable extent in the debate on Amendment No. 4. I think it is important that we should make the statement and the case for pupil governors again, even though we have to do it within the context of the rigidity of Clause 3 of the Bill. We would have preferred, as we did prefer, to say that the addition of pupil governors to a governing body shall be a matter for local option. The Committee decided otherwise. We therefore have to make the case in the terms that are permitted to us by the Bill.
§ I must confess that I was deeply disappointed by one part of the noble Baroness's response on Amendment No. 4. She referred to the opinion to which the Government adhere that school governors are in a position of public and pecuniary trust and to the legal opinion that minors under the age of 18 cannot be in such a position of public and pecuniary trust and therefore cannot be governors of a school. I find that quite extraordinary. We are here as a legislative Chamber. We are here with the purpose of saying what we require the law to be and not what the interpretation legally has been of previous legislation. If we take the view that it is to the advantage of the schools generally that there should be pupil governors for the school, then that view ought to be reflected in legislation and the definition of "public and pecuniary trust" ought to be amended for that purpose. It does not need to be amended for any other purpose. It could be explicitly for this purpose. But it is appropriate for us to say that if we think that pupil governors are a good thing—and number of noble Lords who had doubts about my previous amendment so thought—then we should provide for them and we should not be affected by legal opinions expressed about earlier legislation.
§ It is not as if those legal opinions had gone unchallenged. After all, there have been pupil governors in quite a number of schools, not just over the age of 16 but over the age of 15 and sometimes over the age of 14. In a number of schools, it has never seemed appropriate for anybody to challenge in the courts their acting as governors of the schools; and, presumably, that means that there has been no complaint about the way they have acted as governors of schools.
§ A number of noble Lords, notably the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, referred in the earlier debate to the role of pupils on the governing body and expressed opposition, in my view quite justified, to the idea that pupils should take part in the appointment of teachers. That is one example. But where there are pupil governors they do not take part in the appointment of teachers. There is no difficulty at all in 1338 securing, in the way in which a governing body operates, that pupil governors or teacher governors for that matter, are excluded from certain reserved parts of the agenda. It has been done in local education authorities; it has been done in governing bodies. There is no difficulty of any kind in securing that those objections have no force and that pupil governors and teacher governors do not take part in the appointment of teachers.
§ If it is thought appropriate that there are other parts of a governing body's agenda to which this also applies, I have no doubt that that could be done as well. I am not suggesting that there should be wholesale exclusions of pupil governors or teacher governors from major parts of the agenda, but I am suggesting that the problems raised by noble Lords have no validity and can easily be overcome by either subsequent amendment or by regulation.
§ The other problem which was put against pupil governors was that somehow they were likely to be the appointees of the local authority. I said earlier that in my experience they are the least likely of the non-local education authority governors actually to act as the appointees of the local authority. There is always a difficulty about the turnover of pupil governors. There is always the difficulty that they are likely to be appointed for only one year and not to get fully into their stride in the first term in which they are pupil governors. That is inherent in the nature of the beast. It means that they are likely to be less assertive than we might wish them to be. It does not mean that they will be nobbled by the local authority and will act as the creatures of the politicians. It does not mean that they would be appointed by the local authority rather than elected by the senior pupils in the schools.
§ Neither the legal argument nor any of the practical arguments put forward earlier this evening encourage me to think that there is a strong case for going back on existing provisions and powers of local authorities to have pupil governors where they think that appropriate. If there had been the huge outcry and problems that some noble Lords appeared to expect, I might be less wholehearted about the idea. Practical experience shows that pupil governors work. It is the role of the Committee to ensure that the law does not, at a stroke, outlaw an effective addition to the government of our schools. I hope that the Committee will support this and the related amendments. I beg to move.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
I wish to support the amendment. We are now producing a more articulate and inquisitive society than ever before in which young people are anxious to find out as much as they can. They are more anxious to challenge their elders as to why they arrive at certain decisions.
I am sorry to say that I left school at the age of 14. That was in the early days of the war, and at the age of 14 I was working 12 hours a day. I learned a lot in that way. Nevertheless, we now have the type of society in which young peole do not accept everything that their elders say without some sort of challenge. I think that to give them experience of the government of schools is a good thing for them. Where I have seen that in operation throughout the country it works well.
1339 Certain noble Lords have related difficulties this afternoon about where it would be indelicate for pupils to sit on the question of staffing problems, and so on. That can be overcome quite easily. Most governing bodies that operate this sort of system have the pupils present later in the agenda. At the beginning of the agenda, the governors might be in committee without the pupils. At that stage they deal with all the relevant staffing problems. They then become the full governing body with the pupils present. We can get over the difficulty in that way.
There are many different variations of schools. I make no bones about the fact that I prefer the 11 to 18 school, with a top on it. That does not apply throughout the country these days. There are 11 to 14 schools and tertiary colleges. With an 11 to 14 school where the pupils leave and go on to another school they get little experience. Below the age of 14 we can bring them on to the governing bodies as observers. However, we are not discussing that with this amendment.
I think that the idea of bringing youngsters on to the governing bodies at the age of 14 is good because it gives them the experience that they need and, as has already been said, many of them will be on the governing body for only a short time. They can relate the views of the school council and their peers in the school. It is good for the rest of the governors to hear their views. I support the amendment.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
I should also like to add my support for the amendment. The main thing that I should like to say is that the system has been working, as far as I can gather, for some years. I know one school where it has been in operation for 15 years. It is possible that the pupils have been co-opted on to the governing body, or something of that sort.
Much of the success of the scheme depends upon the tact and cunning of the chairman of the governing body, who may draw the best out of the pupils. I can imagine there being chairmen who would entirely silence any young folk. I know of others who invite the young people's opinion and they get some very useful information about the school from, after all, the real consumers on such matters as what they think of the food and the provision of books and equipment, and so on. The governors can hear that from the horse's mouth. They do not have it relayed to them through the head or any other teacher: they can hear it from the children themselves. I think that that is very valuable.
To revert to the problem of the subjects in which it is not fit for the pupils to participate, as the noble Lords, Lord Taylor and Lord McIntosh, both said, that can easily be arranged. It is obviously not appropriate for pupils to be present at a matter of discipline regarding another pupil. It is obviously unsuitable for them to be present at that, but that can easily be arranged.
I should like to add my support for the amendment. I should like to make the point that if the age limit proposed in the Bill were to remain as it is, in 11 to 16 schools no pupil could participate on the governing body and even in full comprehensives pupils may only be able to participate in their last year or last term because they may not reach the age of 18 until then. 1340 They cannot achieve much in that time. I hope that the Committee will accept the amendment, which I fully support.
§ Lord Renton
With great respect to the noble Lords who have spoken, I and I think many people would feel that this amendment is contrary to the interests of the pupils who have to serve as governors and to the interests of the schools. Let us take the position of the pupils. As the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, has just indicated, they would probably be fairly senior pupils coming up for very important examinations. Surely it is best that they concentrate upon their studies in this highly competitive world of academic qualifications. If they become governors, far from concentrating enough on their studies they will be submerged in the paperwork with which school governors will probably inevitably be confronted. That is unavoidable these days. I think that it would be against the pupils' interest.
Would it really be in the interests of the schools? There might come times, alas—not often, but sometimes—when governors have to sit in judgment upon teachers. The presence of pupils should be avoided. It has been suggested that we could arrange for the pupils not to be present. Supposing we have a rather maverick pupil with a grudge against a particular teacher. Is he to make his complaint to his fellow governors as a governor? Is he to make it having been temporarily excluded from the governors or having excluded himself from them because of what he was going to say and return to make the complaint merely as a pupil temporarily not acting as a governor?
There is another factor about this amendment which your Lordships should not ignore. It would apply to pupils in special schools, including schools for the mentally handicapped, if the school took children over 14, as most special schools do. Though I am quite in favour of trying to get mentally handicapped people more involved in life, to have them bearing the burden of responsibility as school governors is asking a bit much. Perhaps the noble Lord has just overlooked that possibility.
May I deal with one point in case it is present in the minds of noble Lords, especially those who are familiar with the situation in schools in Scotland, especially in the north of Scotland? It was frequently the custom there for senior pupils to become pupil teachers. I do not know whether that is ever done still. The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, who has much knowledge of these matters, shakes his head, which makes it unnecessary for me to pursue that point. I was merely going to say that if that were the case it would still be no good reason for accepting the amendment.
§ Lord Beloff
If I may, I come back to this point, partly because I think that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, misunderstood my last intervention. My reason for emphasising functions was not that I expected that functions could be, or necessarily should be, dealt with at the same time as the composition of 1341 these bodies, but that we could only make sense of our views about composition if we were clear in our minds as to what the functions were that the persons appointed should carry out.
In respect of pupil representation, we have already had a series of concessions, if you like, from the noble Lord and his friends to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, and others that there would be a number of functions that governors may from time to time have to perform at which pupil governors, if they existed, would not be expected to be present. The question that worries me now is what are the functions left to which the presence of pupils as governors would make an important and constructive difference? There must be an argument for this, because otherwise the argument is a wholly theoretical one. There must be something which is thought to be, or would be thought to be, missing.
My own feeling is that one reason this issue is being pressed is that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and his friends have not fully appreciated the difference that this Bill is supposed to be making to governing bodies. The purpose of this Bill is not merely to alter their composition. It is, as I understand it, to give them a much more active and important role in the schools than they have had in many parts of the country in recent times, where, as is generally admitted, they have been very subordinate to the local authorities which had majorities of various sizes upon them and used those majorities to pursue their own policies.
If now, through the intervention in particular of more parent governors, you are to have a more active and important body, then, for instance, it will perhaps have more to say about the disposition of funds. There will be a greater question of financial responsibility, perhaps by development later on. Though I do not put the legal argument at the head of my considerations, this would perhaps reinforce the legal argument against minors being put in that position.
But even if we neglect that aspect of it, it seems to me that what the Committee has not heard from the proponents of this amendment are points of view on the functions of governors who would not otherwise be present. Clearly, it is important to know what pupils think about the school they are in. It is important to know their views on many aspects of what the school does. But there are other ways of doing this: for example, through school councils, through meetings of representatives of school councils with governors or with a committee of governors. It does not seem to me at all clear that it is necessary for them to go the whole way and be involved with the expense, trouble and concern to which the noble Lord, Lord Renton, has referred in the business of governing, which we hope under this Bill will become increasingly more important.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
May I make one point? The noble Lord, Lord Renton, spoke of attendance at governors' meetings imperilling young people's chances in examinations. I should like to point out that the average number of times a governing body meets in a year is three and this will not imperil their academic chances.
§ Baroness Airey of Abingdon
I speak with experience of being a governor of what was a girls' grammar school in Fulham which became a small comprehensive school. It was suggested that there should be pupil governors, and of course the girls were rather excited about that to start off with.
I should like to emphasise and support the point of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, because we found after a bit that they were working very hard, particularly in their last years when, generally speaking, they would be likely to be attending as a pupil governor, and they asked off their own bat, whether they might be relieved of this job. We used after that to have meetings with the girls to which the governors went. This appeared to be a very popular way in which the girls could speak to the governors quite on their own and it seemed, as one might say, to do the trick.
§ Baroness Young
As I suspected when we were debating Amendment No. 4 and the matter of pupil governors was raised, that was not the last word on this subject. I can tell from the number of members of the Committee who have taken part in this debate on pupil governors that this is a matter on which individuals can have very strong opinions based on their own experience.
I should like at the outset to say that the Government are by no means opposed to governing bodies involving senior pupils at secondary schools in their work if they wish to do so, but what we do not believe is that that involvement needs to extend, or indeed should extend, to being a governor. My noble friend Lord Beloff made this point very clearly and my noble friend Lady Airey has also done so, and has described one way in which it is possible to take account of the views of the pupils which a school, quite properly, should do in certain circumstances. There are also many other ways in which this can happen.
Right at the outset of his remarks, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, made it quite plain that he recognised that there were certain issues on which pupil governors should be asked to withdraw from a particular meeting of the governors, and these have been listed. My noble friend Lord Renton has made some suggestions on this matter, and all of us taking part in this debate who have had experience of being a school governor of a local authority school know quite well that there are circumstances in which it would be quite inappropriate for a pupil to be taking part in the discussion.
The fact is that when you have asked for the pupils to withdraw, or when you have your agenda so divided that part of it is for the full governing body and part of it is for when those pupils are not present, you are setting up two types of governor—a full governor and a pupil governor whose functions are quite different. My noble friend Lord Beloff asked a very important question when he said: what is it that the pupil governors are going to be talking about, if they are not full governors?
The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, if I may quote him—I wrote down what he said—made some suggestions. He said of course that the pupils could discuss the food. After all, what pupil worth his salt has not complained about the school food. I cannot 1343 imagine a single Member of your Lordships' House who at one stage or another has not indulged himself or herself in that. But perhaps more seriously, they could talk about books and equipment. That is a good subject for pupils to talk about: the content of the library; or about the equipment if they have a view about it; whether they should have a computer; and, if so, what, and how many. That is the kind of thing. But that does not require them to be full members of a governing body.
A technical point was raised right at the beginning by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. Opinions have been expressed since Second Reading about whether we are correct in our opinion of the present legal position. The fact is that we can change this position. We accept that there may be more than one opinion on a matter of this kind; if there were no doubt, there would be no need for the provision in Clause 14(12), restricting governorship to those aged 18 and over. But I hope it will be appreciated that we are not resting our arguments on that legal point but have sought to demonstrate why we consider it inappropriate for pupils to have the automatic right to seats on the governing body.
It is very important to note the point made by my noble friend Lord Beloff that we are expecting governing bodies to be of a different character; the kind of character, if I may say so, touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, in many of his remarks. His report was a forerunner in looking at the whole issue of school governing bodies, and because—and other parts of the Bill set this out—we are interested in giving to them more responsibilities, it is very important that we recognise what it is we want the members of the governing body to do, and what it is that we want the whole of the governing body to be able to do.
I conclude by saying that the amendment underlines the difficulty of altering the very carefully drawn formula in Clause 3. Both in the case of the largest and the smallest governing bodies, adding two pupil governors would reduce the proposed foundation representation in the case of controlled schools below the one-fifth to which they should be entitled.
I hope now that I have said enough to explain the Government's view about pupil governors. We recognise the importance of involving pupils in the school, of finding a way, either through a school council or some other means of discussion, to take their views on matters on which quite properly their views should be listened to. But I also think it very important to stand by the arrangements that we have made in Clause 3. I have been grateful for the support that I have received from my noble friends. I must resist this amendment.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I think that in her last sentence the noble Baroness has given the game away about Clause 3. She has convinced me, if I needed convincing, that Clause 3 is in fact a straitjacket. Because it is drafted in that way, because it is drafted in the rigid way that it is, there is virtually no possibility of effective amendment, however good the case may be. I am bound to say that the case made out 1344 against pupil governors seems highly theoretical and highly doctrinaire and to bear very little relation to the experience that has been referred to on the other side in this debate, notably by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, with a lifetime's experience in running a school.
I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, says: that not only should we be concerned with the functions when considering the composition—of course that is right—but also that the functions are to change as a result of this Bill. Of course that is right as well. The objective of the Bill is not only to open up the membership of governing bodies but also to make them more important bodies in the government of our schools. Surely if that is the case, the argument for having the consumers of the service—that is what pupils are—as full members of the governing body is that much stronger.
There are many other subjects which will be discussed at the governing body, functions of the governing body beyond those of discipline and appointments, from which pupil governors will have to be excluded. Indeed I imagine that teacher governors will have to be excluded from some matters of appointment as well. But the broader functions of a governing body to which the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, referred, are so wide and so important that it is vital that the consumers should be concerned. It is not just a matter of school meals or the content of the library. The governing body as I understand it will be concerned with major matters of the curriculum of the school, a matter on which pupils have very strong and very well-informed views. It will be concerned with the organisation of the school in terms of the balance between departmental responsibilities and pastoral responsibilities, another matter on which the opinions of senior pupils will be a valuable addition to the discussions. The questions which have been referred to of the resources, and the choices about resources which will be delegated to the governing bodies, is another example. Surely the pupils who are the users of those resources will have something valuable to say about the disposal of those resources. Surely they ought to say so as equal members of a governing body. Surely they should not be treated as second class citizens in this new disposition which is being proposed in this legislation.
There is one point on which I concede that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, has a valuable point. I can well understand why it might be inappropriate to have pupils on the governing bodies of certain kinds of maintained special schools, although not all maintained special schools. I do not feel that the Government have made an adequate case against pupil governors. There are a number of occasions later in the Bill when further amendment is possible, notably on Clause 14 to which the noble Baroness referred. It may be better to return to the issue of governors under 18, possibly as co-opted governors, at that stage rather than to seek to ascertain the views of the Committee now. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 8 to 20 not moved.]1345
§ Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 21:
Page 5, line 10, at end insert—
("( ) No person shall be co-opted to the board of governors if that person is
§ The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee and at the request of my noble friend Lord Ritchie, I rise to move this amendment. The aim of the amendment, which refers only to co-opted governors, is to ensure that the governors co-opted on to the governing bodies by local education authorities are genuinely independent people from the wider community.
§ Those directly involved in the local education authority, either as politicians, who are specified in paragraph (a) and also (c), or as employees involved in schools or in administration, as defined in paragraph (b), would be specifically prevented from being co-opted. The aim is not to exclude all local education authority staff. For example, there is no reason why maintenance staff in the direct labour branch of an authority should be banned from being co-opted.
§ The noble Earl will probably have noticed that the wording of the amendment is similar to that used by the Government at the end of Clause 5(4) on page 7 of the Bill, which is applicable simply to parent governors who are under that subsection appointed by the local authority. Paragraph (b) of the amendment is slightly more explicit than the Government's wording on page 7.
§ The amendment would not stop LEAs from appointing politically motivated people rather than representatives of community groups but it would restrict their ability to extend that practice into the co-opted field. I am not sure whether it is proper to refer now to Amendment No. 24 of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, but it seeks to place a limitation on co-opted members. However, I respectfully point out that it would allow the politicians to be co-opted; that is to say, it would not ban those who are specified in paragraphs (a) and (c) of Amendment No. 21. On those grounds, I believe that the amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, to which I have spoken, is preferable. I beg to move.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
Since reference has been made to Amendment No. 24, I say immediately that I entirely agree with the noble Lord that paragraph (a) of Amendment No. 21 is a valuable addition, and on that basis alone I shall not seek to move Amendment No. 24.
However, I question whether the noble Lord is on ground that is quite so strong when he refers to the exclusion of a co-opted member of an education committee of the authority. Many co-opted members are teacher representatives and it seems unreasonable that a teacher representative on an education committee should be excluded from serving as a teacher representative, or even as a co-opted representative, for the school at which he happens to teach. I 1346 am not sure that the case is so strong in that respect as in the earlier case that the noble Lord cited. With that possibly minor qualification, I support the amendment.
§ Baroness Hooper
This amendment contradicts the provision proposed subsequently in Clause 14(11) of the Bill, which specifies that elected and appointed governors are to have complete freedom of choice in their decision on whom to co-opt to the governing body. I point out to the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, that we are in this case talking about the governors having the power to appoint, whereas at the end of Clause 5, where the reference is to the appointment of parent governors, it is the local education authority that has the power to appoint.
Earlier, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Blackburn, said that we should beware of co-opted governors. However, the Government have made it clear that the purpose of the category of co-opted governors is to broaden the membership of governing bodies. We believe that the elected and appointed governors should be free to co-opt whoever they wish, provided that he or she is over 18 years of age, and we hope that they will take their decisions on the basis of the strengths that those selected can contribute to the work of the governing body and the school.
The Government intend to offer guidance on how the power of co-option might be exercised. While I think it unlikely that we would be recommending the co-option of extra teachers, members of the non-teaching staff or any of those who would be ruled out by this amendment, we would want to make it clear to governors that their choice of co-opted governors is unconstrained except as regards minors and except so far as the normal disqualification for bankrupts etc. will apply.
While I can appreciate the noble Lord's reasons for tabling this amendment, the dangers he perceives in allowing people such as those covered by this amendment to be co-opted governors are not as significant as he fears. I believe that the aim—which I know the noble Lord shares—of ensuring that governing bodies are a strong force for good in the life of a school is best served by allowing governors freedom of choice in their co-options.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
I apologise to the noble Baroness for not having directed my remarks to her instead of to the noble Earl at her side; I was unaware that she was going to answer the amendment. I am grateful for her remarks. I turn first to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, although I should say at this point that I do not intend to press the amendment. I shall certainly consider the noble Lord's point before the next stage of the Bill.
I accept what the noble Baroness said about the provisions of Clause 14(11) conferring complete freedom of co-option upon governors; that is what is written into the Bill at present. I should like to consider that matter. It seem that there is still a reasonable case for imposing some limitation there, particularly in respect of the people specified in paragraph (a) of my amendment as presently drafted. I am grateful to both the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and the noble 1347 Baroness, Lady Hooper. I should like to reconsider the matter and possibly return to the point at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn moved Amendment No. 22:
Page 5, line 12, at end insert—
("( ) Governing bodies shall be required to co-opt members from ethnic minorities in proportion to the ethnic composition of the local community.")
§ The noble Lord said: Since my committee produced its report, the situation has changed a great deal throughout the country. A number of local authorities find now that it is a good thing in the cause of race relations to bring in minority groups. I believe it would be wise for that to be done, especially in areas where there is a large ethnic minority who can play a very important part in the life of the school. As we are getting near to 7.30 p.m. I do not propose to say much more; I believe that the merit of the amendment speaks for itself.
§ Lord Beloff
One can appreciate the motives of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, in moving this amendment, but it is so vague in its make-up and in its possible effects that I believe it would need more time to be explained, perhaps at another stage. For example, it is not clear whether there are to be additional co-opted members or whether the number of co-opted members is, as it were, to be used up exclusively for that purpose in some or all areas.
Furthermore, it is extremely vague to use in this sense the term "ethnic minorities". The number of possible definitions of a particular ethnic minority may be almost limitless. For example, with linguistic minorities the situation in parts of London is such that to choose one group may in fact merely have the effect of alienating others who may feel themselves underrepresented.
Furthermore, I do not think—and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, said that things have changed a great deal in the past few years—that the noble Lord has taken into account the fact that a governing body may already have, either through parent, teacher, or LEA representation, a fairly wide ethnic mix. Therefore, one could imagine one or two areas in which the native English might be the under-represented ethnic minority. It is important that the governance of schools should contribute to good race relations, but perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, will agree that we need something much more clear than this amendment to see us on that path.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, is certainly right that if it were proposed that this amendment should be inserted into the legislation, rather than being a probing amendment, we would need something much more complicated. That, again, compounds my feeling that we are in an extremely difficult position because Clause 3 is so rigidly and tightly drawn that these objections can arise.
I do not think that the noble Lord can seriously deny that behind this amendment, however vague the 1348 wording, there is a feeling—and, more than a feeling, an actual experience—of great significance to the government of our schools. After all, it was the report of the noble Lord, Lord Swann, which defined the concept of institutional racism and specifically said that the exclusion of ethnic minorities from our school governing bodies was a potential and sometimes an actual cause of difficulty in securing that our schools are really representative of the communities in which they operate.
The noble Lord gave the example—I do not think he did so totally seriously—of an era where the English population could be in a minority. I wonder whether he could imagine a situation where in such a case the English population was in a minority on the governing body as well, and, therefore, had to be protected by an amendment of this kind. I think that commonsense and experience leads us to say that, in practice, where there is a very heavy concentration of school population from the ethnic minorities there seldom tends to be more than token representation of those ethnic minorities on governing bodies. The sort of protection proposed in this amendment, or by amendments which might follow if the Government make suitable noises, is very much needed. The noble Lord's example serves to reinforce the need for such an amendment rather than to undermine it.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, mentioned the Swann Report. It is entirely correct that Swann was very concerned about this matter, but I think I am right in saying that Swann made no specific recommendation and was unable to reach a specific conclusion on how to take care of it. As the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, pointed out, the amendment as drafted is extremely vague; and I accept that it is a probing amendment. For example, what is "the local community", and what are "ethnic minorities"? Do they include Irish people?
I am certainly in sympathy with the aim behind the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, but I do not think that this is the right way to go about it. One route which appears to me as being helpful in this respect is proposed in an amendment which I shall be moving later. This introduces proportional representation—I can see the look of pain on the noble Earl's face, but this is a serious point—by a single transferable vote and a secret ballot. This is introduced into the system for the election of the parents' ration of the governing body and is likely to promote an increased representation of ethnic minorities. However, that is a point I shall be making later.
§ The Earl of Swinton
The look on my face was not one of pain but one of acute hunger because I am on a very strict diet and allowed only one meal a day. My stomach has been rumbling audibly for the past quarter of an hour. But I apologise, as I must not be frivolous on this important amendment.
Like the last amendment, it runs counter to the provisions contained in Clause 14(11), which provides for elected and appointed governors not to be restricted in their choice of co-opted governors. As a general principle we believe it is right for the elected and appointed governors to have a free hand in 1349 selecting for co-option those whom they believe can contribute most to the work of the governing body and the school.
The Government of course support the idea behind this amendment that ethnic minorities should be appropriately represented on the governing bodies of the schools which serve the communities in which they live. Indeed, we hope that members of ethnic minorities will be found in all categories of governor. I must point out to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, that it would strike me as being amazing, where you are going to have so many parents elected as governors, that in a school in a predominantly ethnic area you would not get a majority of ethnic minority parents serving on the governing body. I should have thought that was almost bound to happen. I have to say, however, that we do not believe the noble Lord's amendment will achieve the ideal he has in mind. We hope that elected and appointed governors will co-opt the best people for the job, irrespective of race, creed or colour.
My noble friend Lord Beloff made a point about these co-opted members being extra, or not being so. I am glad that was answered because if they are not extra the amendment would have the effect of preventing the co-option of, say, two members of an ethnic minority out of a total of four co-opted governors if the ethnic minority represented less than 50 per cent. of the local community.
I appreciate the argument that a provision of this kind would be a step in the right direction and would in many cases ensure at least some ethnic minority representation. However, for the reasons I have outlined we believe it would not be a constructive step. Nevertheless, I should like to be helpful and I believe that we can offer some assistance to noble Lords. The Government intend, once the legislation is enacted, to offer guidance on how the power of co-option might be exercised. One factor we shall be advising governors to bear in mind is the importance of the governing body having strong links with the local community. In that connection we shall certainly want elected and appointed governors to consider whether the ethnic minorities of the local community served by the school are appropriately represented on the governing body, and to use their powers of co-option to rectify the omission if necessary. With the undertaking that the Government will offer such advice I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
In view of what the noble Earl said and my concern for his tummy, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Earl of Swinton
I think this might be a convenient time to adjourn, not only for my convenience but also for that of other noble Lords. Before resuming the House may I suggest that we do not return to this Bill until twenty minutes to nine o'clock. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.