§ 4.32 p.m.
§ House again in Committee on Clause 37.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 86:
§ Page 39, line 3, leave out ("requirements as may be prescribed") and insert ("arrangements as they may determine")
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I acknowledge the decision of the Committee in relation to the previous amendment. I also acknowledge that it is clearly the Committee's view that Clause 37, however defective it might be in the eyes of some of us in practice, ought to be a part of the Bill. I want to put to the Committee the case that the provisions which are made in line 3 of page 39 are an unnecessary, as well as an overbearing, requirement.
The Bill proposes that the appraisal which is to be established under the conditions of this clause shall be,
in accordance with such requirements as may be prescribed",
and it is clear from this that the prescription shall be by the Secretary of State. Even if one were to accept in full the argument that there has to be some sort of ultimate sanction for the Secretary of State to impose appraisal, if agreement has not been reached—and I repeat that we all share the wish that agreement should be reached and that this clause should not necessarily be brought into effect—it is a different thing to suggest that the content of the appraisal shall itself be determined by the Secretary of State.
§ I want to suggest to the Committee that appraisal is a matter fundamentally between the teachers themselves, collectively and individually, and their employers, the local education authorities, and that therefore, whatever the original impetus may have been for an imposed scheme of appraisal, surely its implementation and the arrangements for its implementation should be left to the teachers themselves and to their employers. That is what this amendment seeks to provide.
§ It seems to me that the possibility of conflict and resentment from a scheme which is imposed both on employers and on teachers is far too great a risk for the Government to sustain, and I confess I am surprised that the Government should seek to add this additional burden on to their own appraisal scheme. None of us wants it. It is accepted that it is the wish of the Committee that it should happen, but surely it would be much more effective if, having been imposed, the requirements should be those of the local education authority rather than of the Secretary of State.
§ I do not see how it can be argued that the local education authorities are unfit to make these arrangements and to lay down the requirements for an appraisal scheme themselves. After all, as was said on a number of occasions on Second Reading, appraisal is not a new thing. Appraisal has been in existence as long as there has been a teaching profession. It may have been informal, it may have taken all sorts of different forms, but the appraisal of teachers as a basis for promotion, as a basis for continued employment, as a basis for the career and professional development of teachers, is something which has been part of the teaching profession ever since the very beginning. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, said this very effectively in his speech on Second Reading.
§ Indeed, when one turns to the role of Her Majesty's Inspectors it could be argued that the corps of Her Majesty's Inspectors actually predates an effective national education department, and that the original purpose of the Board of Education was to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspector rather than any other purpose. That, after all, is one form of collective appraisal of the work of teachers in the schools. To that extent, surely it is a very considerable break from tradition to say that the appraisal scheme which is necessary, which we all agree to be necessary, however little we agree about how it shall be achieved, shall itself in its operation and in the arrangements for it be under the direct control of the Secretary of State.
§ I believe that this is not an amendment that is at all in conflict with the decision of the Committee on the preceding amendment. I believe that it is an amendment which ought to commend itself to the Government in self-defence, if for nothing else, against a charge of being overbearing, which I am sure they would not wish to be levied and, I am equally sure, they would not wish to have sustained against them. I very much hope that the Government will see the rationale of this amendment and find ways of accepting at least its spirit, if not the actual wording. I beg to move.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
I must re-emphasise my view that this clause has no suitable part of this Bill 412 at the present time. My difficulty on this amendment is different from that in relation to the previous one, but I want to examine for a moment or two just how difficult it is to ask the Committee to accept the version in the clause and (at the moment equally as difficult, so far as I am concerned) to accept the amendment as making any contribution to resolving the dilemma. I think we want to know to what use these appraisals will be put. Without that, we really do not know what form they should take or whether they should be gone into in greater detail in the statute, if that is where we have to deal with the matter, so that we know exactly what we are doing.
To the question, "To what use are these appraisals to be put?", we can only turn to subsection (2) of Clause 37, which is in general terms of jargon of the statute law, saying that they are for such purposes as may be prescribed. However, in looking at appraisals it matters a great deal to know for what purpose they are going to be used. That indeed is the root of much suspicion by staffs when they are asked to submit to a reporting system. Who is going to see the reports? To what use are they going to be put? Are they confidential? Where can the reports go for other people to see when members of staff are seeking other employment?
If the Secretary of State wants to arrive at some overall assessment of the quality of the teaching profession and to know into what classifications of efficiency, ability and potential for promotion they fall, he will want a common form of appraisal throughout the teaching service. He cannot manage without it. It would be a nonsense to a scheme of that kind to ask the local education authorities to formulate their own appraisal system because they could all be different. An authority would formulate one for itself for internal purposes without necessarily having regard to the use to which the Secretary of State might wish to put it.
There are half a million civil servants—more of them indeed than teachers. There are 75,000 civil servants in the Inland Revenue. We formulate for them a reporting system of general application so that at any time the administration can say what sort of staff it has; it can say what is the standard of recruitment: and it can look at this from the point of view of what pay they ought to have. Is this kind of concept—the use of the appraisal system—going to form any part of what the Secretary of State wants to do; or is this purely a local affair?
If it is a local affair for the information of the local education authority—something that it ought to do as a matter of internal discipline—let local education authorities formulate their own appraisal system. But if the Secretary of State wants this for a wider purpose—and I rather suspect he does; I certainly should if I were in his position—he must have the appraisal conducted on a common form related to the different classes and grades to which the appraisal system is to apply so that the different classifications would have their standard form of appraisal. That is what I think the Secretary of State has in mind.
If that were so, he would negotiate the system through the Whitley Council—that is, if there was one, but there is not. How sad it is that teachers are so bereft of sensible negotiating machinery. He would have to 413 negotiate it with the teachers unions centrally and get it agreed for application to the teaching profession as a whole for all that he wished to bring within the scope of this appraisal system. That is how it should be done.
Then the appraisal would take place within the machinery of the local education authorities, which would be responsible for looking after the work being done, gathering the appraisals together, making whatever summaries they wish, supplying information to the Secretary of State and so on. But we do not know whether what I am offering as a conjectural basis for this appraisal system is what the Secretary of State has in mind. All we know is this jumble here on page 39. It may mean anything. If one is a teacher, one cannot be entirely free of anxieties in the absence of more information as to the purposes to which the provision might be put.
Therefore I am bothered about this. I am bothered about the clause and I am bothered about the amendment. When it says,such requirements as may be prescribed",presumably the statute law intends the Secretary of State to prescribe them. If not, the whole situation is different from the one I have described. Can we please know what is in the mind of the Government?
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ The noble Earl the Minister said a moment or two ago that this is only an enabling clause. When enabling clauses offer the hope that the Minister is going to do something that you like and want him to do, then you are all behind enabling clauses. But if the enabling clause is almost a covert threat that he is going to do something that you do not like but it is going to be imposed, you have a very different attitude.
§ We are so lacking in information that we cannot do this job intelligently. I beg of the Minister who has all that documentation in front of him to disclose the mind of the Government on the nature and use of the system that this clause is intended to bring into existence. We may then be able to get on, although I think the more sensible course would be, before we are asked to put the provision into the form of statute law, to discuss it with those who will be the workforce within the system, the management who will administer it and the Secretary of State who is going to use it. Until that is made clearer, the Government should not ask us to pass anything on Clause 37.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
I should like to speak for a moment or two about the difficulty that will be involved in appraisal in a scheme any more structured than that which exists already. It is going to be very expensive. We are not talking about that today but I mention it in passing. Extra staff will be needed as well as a great deal of extra computerisation, filing and goodness knows what else.
It will also be difficult for this reason. One has to bear in mind that teachers are not salesmen. Over the past year I feel that there has been a tendency to regard them as such. I want to quote to the Committee a few words from the interesting and thorough survey of appraisal methods that was undertaken by the Suffolk 414 Education Authority. The last words of the introduction are:To make or to help make a teacher more effective in the iob must take account of the complexity of the task of teaching, it must take account of the fact that there is and will continue to be a spectrum of teacher competence"—in plain English, that means that there will be good teachers and less good teachers—that much of what a teacher does and achieves cannot be measured and that some of his work indeed does not bear immediate fruit".Those things should be said about the work that the teachers do.
I should also like to say that this seems an unfortunate moment for legislation about appraisal. I say this for two reasons. The first is the low state of teacher morale at present and the implied threat, to which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, referred, that teachers may feel is implicit in this clause. Secondly, negotiations are taking place at this moment with ACAS which involve the teachers and it may be advisable to wait for the issue of these.
I should like to say a few words about teacher morale. The education service has been under attack for a long time. I noticed an instance of that this afternoon. Noble Lords may not have been particularly aware of it, but when a Question came up earlier about skilled workers I heard murmurs from one or two places in the Chamber about it being the teachers' fault. There has been a great deal of this about in recent months and teachers are sensitive to it. They are very aware of it. They feel that their professional competence is being challenged. There is a lot of talk about bad teachers, poor exam results, children leaving school half educated and so on. The profession has been under attack. Of course there are bad teachers, but there are bad doctors, bad lawyers and bad parliamentarians.
The teachers have been at the receiving end of a great deal of veiled criticism of this sort for a long time past, with the result that to the poor pay that they receive and the implied low esteem of society has been added the "incompetent teachers!" cry. I feel that the Secretary of State has forgotten that a pat on the back is worth two raps on the knuckles. I do not think that is a well known proverb, as I made it up this afternoon.
Perhaps I may add a few further words about appraisal. Teachers are told that it is about career guidance, professional development and in-service training and that it is all in their interests: but that is not what teachers think it is about. If one speaks to them it is apparent that their view is much more negative. They think it is about awards and punishments. They think that it is about being awarded with merit pay or accelerated promotion, or punished with decelerated promotion, disciplinary action of some sort and ultimate dismissal.
Teachers feel threatened. I fear that, owing to the bad relationship which they have with the Secretary of State at the moment, this clause on the Secretary of State's enabling power is unfortunate. For those reasons we feel that arrangements should be left in the hands of the local education authorities, which will have to operate any such scheme, and indeed are doing so, in an amorphous way. We feel that it is more sensible and more reassuring to teachers; and nothing could be more important at the moment than for 415 teachers to be reassured. Therefore, I join with the noble Lords, Lord McIntosh and Lord Irving of Dartford, in supporting this amendment.
§ Baroness Phillips
I should like to take this opportunity, following my noble friend and following what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, to speak about this mysterious clause. One learns, and my short exercise in government taught me always to beware of that part of a Bill called "Miscellaneous". It always contains the most contentious clauses as far as I can see.
Under the heading Financial effects of the bill, which I always look at first, it states:Clause 37 is an enabling power and no costs are consequent on its enactment".That is very good to know.If and when a teacher appraisal scheme comes into being there will be costs at the local authority level, partly for administration"—and this is the part to note—but mostly in respect of teacher time used in preparing for and operating the scheme".Now we know that it is the teachers who will appraise the teachers. At least we have moved one step further. That makes it all the more difficult to operate and all the more reason why people will feel that there will be some discrimination against someone.
We all know the criticism that is accorded the doctors' complaints board because, it is said, doctors are complained about to other doctors, and that is not desirable. Here we shall have the teachers appraising other teachers, if we can believe the explanation of this clause.
I should like to endorse what has been said. The teachers see it as some criticism of their work, whatever way one looks at it. As I have said, they are already reported on quite enough. At the moment it would not matter how good the appraisal was of a teacher; the reason why they are employed is that they are coming in at the earliest part of the scale and because they are the cheapest. Those are the plain facts. That is because so much money has been taken from the local education authorities.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
I am worried about the situation as it has emerged in the discussion. If I follow the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, correctly, the concept of the Secretary of State wanting a national system, so to speak, seems to suggest that the Secretary of State is to become the employer of the teachers. I know of no case where people who are not employees of the Government are subject to such an appraisal.
I am bound to remind the Committee that even when the percentage grant from central government was 60 per cent. of the cost of the education service there was never a proposal other than that the local education authorities were the employers of the teachers; but now that the contribution is about 49 per cent. and the local authorities bear 51 per cent. of the cost, is it suggested that this, so to speak, minority shareholder, the Secretary of State, is to run the whole service? I am appalled at such a suggestion.
The 1944 Act was perfectly clear in its concept of the relationship between central and local 416 government. For 20 years that worked most successfully and the education service was developed rapidly and, in my opinion, effectively. Unfortunately, party politics then became mixed up with it and that caused all the trouble. The Committee will know where it started. It was at a Conservative Party conference in Scarborough, which passed a resolution approving the tripartite system of education. The Labour Party promptly passed a resolution in favour of comprehensive education. They have been arguing about it ever since.
I cannot believe that we will not do dreadful harm to the education service if this Bill emerges with the Secretary of State enjoying a power greater than any Secretary of State in the history of the education service in this country. That frightens me more than anything else. Central control and direction is not the answer in a democratic society. Distribution of power in the education service—as I have said repeatedly and as I said in my maiden speech in this House—is a fundamental condition of freedom in a democratic society.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
I was not able to be present during the discussion on the previous amendment, and so I hope I shall be forgiven if anything I say on this amendment I should have said then.
My understanding, and I hope that my noble friend will confirm it, is that this suggestion has nothing whatever to do with running teachers from the centre, any more than the move in the examination system towards measuring against national criteria rather than against the group being examined in a given subject at a given time is the centralising of teaching. Surely the setting of national criteria against which local authorities can make arrangements for assessing teachers and in which they can involve teachers in assessing themselves—which, as the noble Baroness observed, is in the financial explanation—is the way that it should be done.
The setting of national criteria can only be a good proposal. If one does not do that one always finds people within one local authority making arrangements against the criteria that they set themselves the previous year and perhaps meeting objections that have occurred the previous year, so that one authority is perhaps lowering expectations and another raising them. How much better to have national criteria within which the local authority works.
I may be misunderstanding the intention, and it is certainly not clear from the legislation precisely how it will operate, but it is no more than that. It seems to me that not to have national criteria would be a great mistake. It is not what people want. They want teachers to know where they are and not to be at the mercy of party politics. A good appraisal system will get politics out of promotion in those authorities where politics are playing far too big a part. It will make it clear to everyone what the arrangement is—and it will not always be the same in every authority—and how teachers can aspire to improve their performance. That does not seem to me to be threatening at all. It is what the public want and I should have thought that it is what everyone wants, except possibly some local authorities which are 417 alarmed that they will not have 100 per cent. of the say. However, they are quite accustomed to meeting national criteria in other ways and they will do so here. It seems to me to be the national mood and the national will, and, indeed, a very sensible arrangement.
§ 5 p.m.
§ The Earl of Swinton
For the second time, I find myself making a "clause stand part" speech on the amendment. We seem to have had a number of points made in the last debate all over again. Noble Lords will be aware that in Better Schools, the Government stressed that appraisal was a key instrument for developing teacher quality. This clause gives the Secretary of State an enabling power to set up by regulation a national framework for appraisal. I stress the words "national framework". The Government's preference remains for appraisal to be introduced voluntarily on the basis of practical fieldwork and voluntary agreement between the teachers' unions, the local education authorities and the Government. If this desirable outcome is achieved, it might well be appropriate to use the enabling power of this clause to set firmly in place this national framework.
Local appraisal schemes are developing. The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, mentioned one in Suffolk. We are watching that with interest. A national framework is needed to ensure that the many teachers who move about the country have their performance appraised in a broadly consistent way. Failing a national agreement, a legislative framework would be essential to avoid proliferation of inconsistent local schemes. In either case, the intention is not to create a straitjacket but to provide room for local manoeuvre within broad national guidelines.
I have made abundantly clear—as everyone will, I think, agree whatever their views on the amendment—that the Government's preference is for appraisal to be introduced voluntarily on the basis of voluntary agreement between the teachers' unions, the local authorities and the Government. Even with this desirable outcome, it might well be appropriate to use the enabling power to set up a national framework to ensure that the many teachers who move about the country have their performance appraised in a broadly consistent way.
I was a little surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, say that this is a break from tradition. I was even more surprised to hear the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, whose knowledge of the education system far outweighs mine. I remember as a very junior member of an education committee trembling in awe and terror before the noble Lord and then having a jar or two afterwards with him. I would, however, point out that there is already a national framework for the appraisal of probationary teachers. If the noble Lord has forgotten that or temporarily overlooked it, he will find it set out in the 1981 teachers' regulations. If all concerned see that a national framework is desirable and acceptable for probationers, why not also for teachers in their subsequent career? As in the probation regulations, the idea would not be to impose a straitjacket but to provide broad national guidelines with room for local flexibility.
418 The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. asked me what all this is about. I can perhaps refer the noble Lord to a speech made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to the Industrial Society conference on the Education Bill on 14th April, spelling out what he sees as being the purposes and the various ways in which appraisal might be used. I shall gladly send the noble Lord and, indeed, any other noble Lord who so wishes, a copy of the speech, so that they can study what my right honourable friend has in mind. I should like, in fact, to quote briefly from the speech to give some idea of what it contained. tinder the heading, "What purpose is appraisal supposed to serve?"—the very question the noble Lord asked—my right honourable friend said:An appraisal system for school teachers should serve a variety of purposes. The findings of the appraisal system should be taken into account when schools and local education authorities come to decide such matters as planning in-service training provision, selecting in-service training participants and developing the careers of individual teachers, for example, through deployment, promotion, counselling and assistance. The overall purpose is better decisions by local education authorities and school management, feeding through to better teacher performance and better pupil achievement. The whole object is to help improve teaching effectiveness".This amendment would transfer the power to determine the framework of appraisal from the Secretary of State to local education authorities. Regulations made under such an arrangement would be a patchwork and not, as we see it, a framework. The aim of ensuring a bottom line of consistency between LEA arrangements for appraisal would be swept away. Consequently, I must ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
The Government's replies to this debate are not only unsatisfactory, they are positively alarming. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, put the point very precisely. If it is proposed that the minority shareholders in our education system, those who do not employ the teachers, those who do not run the school systems—in other words, central government—shall have the control over the appraisal of individual teachers throughout their careers, then we have a complete break with all the traditions not only of the education service but of appraisal in any sphere of employment. It seems to me inconceivable that the Government—
§ The Earl of Swinton
If we honestly had these things, I, for one, should not be moving the Bill from this side of the House. With all respect to the noble Lord, this is a travesty. There is no question of our trying to employ the teachers or trying to form some national system. We are trying to set up a framework for it. I hope that the noble Lord will accept what I say. I would not have anything to do with such a thing as he describes if I had to put it forward for the Government.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am delighted to hear the noble Earl confirm something that did not need confirming. I was not making that claim. It is common ground between us that central government does not employ teachers. It is common ground between us that central government does not actually run the schools. What the noble Earl has now confirmed is the 419 illogicality and, indeed, the undesirability of having central government, which is not the employer and which does not run the schools, actually imposing the appraisal system. It is quite inadequate for the noble Earl to say that we have a national framework for probationary teachers. It is true that our teacher training system—probation is part of that, and an immediate follow-on from that—does necessarily have a national framework because it is providing teachers for the school system as a whole. That is not the way in which our subsequent education system operates. It operates through local control of finance and employment. It is plainly irrational of the Government to seek, on this one matter of appraisal, to impose this national framework about which the noble Earl is so keen. I apologise. It is not, in fact, one matter. We see in the next clause that the Government seek to impose a national framework on the in-service training of teachers. We shall have something to say about that matter, too.
Everything that the Government have said convinces me not only that our individual amendments are correct but, as my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby, has said, that there is something fundamentally wrong with this clause. The Government appear to have in mind through the words of their spokesman in the Committee today a much clearer idea of the purposes and methods of appraisal than they are prepared to put into the Bill. If it is thought—I can see the justification for this—that it is unsuitable for the face of the Bill to set out a complete appraisal scheme, then, surely, the Government should agree, as the Secretary of State has already been asked by my right honourable and honourable friends in another place, to publish model statutory instruments about the appraisal system before asking the Committee and this House to agree that Clause 37 should stand part of the Bill.
I am not expecting the Government to answer that point now. I leave the thought with the Committee and suggest that, if the Government come back with model statutory instruments that are to the satisfaction of the House, we might well consider not making further moves at Report stage. If there is no move in that direction, I can undertake to the Committee that we shall hear more of the matter. We will not agree to a blank cheque being given to the Government for the appraisal of teachers in service in our schools and in our institutions of further education.
With that indication of our further views I think that it would be appropriate for me to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 86A:
§ Page 39, line 22, at end insert ("and
§ (d) requiring local education authorities to provide for a person of standing, not employed by and independent of the local education authority that is the employer of the teacher concerned, to be involved in each appraisal.").
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment also addresses the Government's proposals in Clause 37 for the appraisal of teachers' performance. We have already had extensive debates about the propriety of 420 this in principle. I gather that the Labour Party is opposed to appraisal, and so are the teachers' unions. Certainly in the form set out here it does not commend itself to us.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
Will the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting? We have never said that the Labour Party was opposed to appraisal. We have said that the Labour Party was opposed to appraisal imposed in the way that Clause 37 proposes to impose it. However, that is not being opposed to appraisal; indeed, we have said the opposite.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
In that case I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I thought his party's views were somewhat different. I am glad to hear the noble Lord say that.
As I was saying, the proposal does not commend itself to us in the form in which it appears in this Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said only a few minutes ago, it gives the Secretary of State a totally blank cheque, including a right to assess what is unassessable, as my noble friend Lord Ritchie suggested on an earlier amendment.
It is arguable that certain of the disputed other activities could be taken into account in a much improved teacher contract, including a right to in-service training and proper career development. Another approach could be the setting up of a teachers' professional body on the lines advocated in this House by the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock.
However, that is not what is before us. We have here something quite different. It is an extremely unsatisfactory clause in the Bill. My amendment seeks simply to make the Government's proposals at least somewhat fairer than they are and to allay the very understandable suspicions of the teaching profession.
The amendment simply requires local education authorities,to provide for a person of standing, not employed by and independent of the local education authority that is the employer of the teacher concerned, to be involved in each appraisal".I am not sure that my form of words is necessarily quite right, but my aim is to get the Government to acknowledge the principle and to come forward at some stage of the Bill—possibly the next stage—with an amendment of their own. The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, who is no longer in her place, talked about teachers appraising teachers, but there are considerable dangers if one keeps it too in-house. So I am not wedded to the wording I have down here. This is a probing amendment and I should like to hear the reaction of the noble Earl to it. I beg to move.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ The Earl of Swinton
The effect of this amendment would be to have an outsider, unspecified but defined as being independent of the LEA concerned, involved in the appraisal of each and every teacher. The motive, as the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, has expressed, is to ensure fairness for the individual. Such fairness is clearly essential and the Government are most concerned that appraisal arrangements should embody adequate safeguards for the individual. But the education service would be unique if it were to have an external element carried into its appraisal 421 scheme. As I understand it, model practice in the private and public sector is to build into internal management procedures appropriate checks and balances to avoid bias, favouritism and so on. Some do it by means of "grandfathers" who scrutinise the appraisals of immediate superiors. Also, as is envisaged for teachers—and I referred to this earlier—in Clause 37(2)(b) it is standard for the appraisees to have the right to make representations.
I wonder whether the teachers themselves would want somebody with the judgment of Solomon standing at the back of their classroom, listening to them in action, and then saying, "I, who have nothing to do with the local education authority, teaching or schools, know just what is wrong with you or what is right with you". With all respect to the noble Lord this strikes me as being a very strange suggestion.
As I have said before—but I cannot get this message across—the Government do not have a national blueprint to impose. These important matters can and should be worked out by the parties concerned. But the Government's view is that senior personnel in the schools themselves, and, as appropriate, in the LEAs, should provide the management expertise to operate an appraisal scheme which is sensitive to the understandable anxieties of teachers and embodies adequate safeguards for the individual. I think the noble Lord will have guessed that the Government do not think an awful lot of this suggestion.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
The mover of the amendment ought to tell us where this independent assessor will come from. It might be a parent of a child at the school. The child might have carried tales about the school to his parents. I presume that the teacher would have the right to object to the assessor in the same way that an accused person can object to a juror: on the grounds that perhaps he would not get a fair deal.
What is more important is the question: who will appraise the heads and deputy heads? This is a problem with which we had to deal in the Inland Revenue. I am sorry to keep referring to the Inland Revenue, but it is about the most sensible piece of administrative personnel machinery that one can find. We solved this problem by making the inspecting officer the independent assessor for district inspectors, for example, who are in a similar position to heads of schools. I would say that HMI is probably the person who ought to appraise the heads of schools. He already has to look at the school as a whole and so on. All these matters need discussion somewhere, at some time.
Again we have the mischief of trying to do too much without doing enough in the statute law. I am sorry that I cannot support the Alliance on this amendment because I do not think it is necessary. Objections can be raised against it. That is another detail. This is only one of half a dozen important matters which will have to be discussed and negotiated. I think that the best thing to do on this clause is not to try to amend it but to vote against it.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
The noble Earl has left me in no doubt of his view of this proposal. I was glad to hear the Government's commitment to fairness and I hope that it will extend to other areas of the Bill. The noble 422 Earl seemed to feel that the proposed checks and balances would be adequate. He also suggested that it would not be encouraging for teachers to have people with no knowledge of education forming part of the assessment process. I would confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that I had in mind—though they are not specified in the amendment—such people as HMIs, or indeed representatives from other education authorities. I should have thought that that was a very sensible check and/or balance to introduce into this kind of procedure. However, I put this forward simply to gauge the feeling of the Committee. I shall read the debate. For the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 86B:
Page 40, line 2, at end insert—
("(4) Regulations made by the Secretary of State under this section shall not come into force unless they have been laid before and approved by affirmative resolution of each House of Parliament.").
§ The noble Lord said: It has already emerged from the discussions that we have had on this subject that there are severe disagreements about how an appraisal system could best be run. The Government's Clause 37 has come in for widespread criticism on all sorts of points during the course of our debates in Committee this afternoon.
§ In the last amendment, I was trying to argue that there could be less teacher opposition if the system were at least seen to be fair and objective and not to permit of any local victimisation. Certainly the Secretary of State does not have the monopoly of wisdom on this subject, as is evidenced by the clause that he has brought before us in so clumsy a form that it presumes to appraise such activities as are at present voluntary and arise from supervision or leadership of non-curricular activities that cannot possibly be assessed. My noble friend Lord Ritchie has already pointed out that such activity cannot possibly be susceptible to appraisal under some kind of points system.
§ If the Secretary of State can make such unrealistic proposals in the Bill, then it is not at all acceptable to us that he should have the right to make whatever regulations he likes without returning to Parliament. By Parliament, I mean both Houses of Parliament, with particular reference to this House, where there is a great deal of knowledge, expertise and wisdom on those matters, some of which has already been demonstrated this afternoon.
I remind the Committee that the amendment reads:
Regulations made by the Secretary of State under this section shall not come into force unless they have been laid before and approved by affirmative resolution of each House of Parliament".
Some noble Lords may secretly feel that that proviso is lacking in value because it lacks teeth. Indeed, your Lordships can reject regulations but very seldom do so, and your Lordships cannot amend them. Therefore, what is the point of such a proviso?
§ The point is that we can debate regulations, and if we believe that they are misconceived or are open to serious criticism, then we can point that out to the Secretary of State and even move a Motion asking the Government to withdraw them and reconsider them 423 in the light of the opinions expressed in this Chamber. That means that we should at least be able to look at the Secretary of State's proposals and give him the benefit of our advice and the opportunity to take his proposals away and think again if we do not feel that his first effort has been up to scratch.
§ It really is not good enough to allow the Secretary of State to produce regulations in this very sensitive area, vitally affecting the future of the teaching profession and what our children are taught in schools, without coming back to Parliament. I beg to move.
§ Lord Somers
Here again we have this business of having to consult both Houses of Parliament. If we go on like that, before very long we shall have to consult both Houses of Parliament before we appoint a teacher. It seems to me that it would be much better to let the Houses of Parliament get on with their own work, which certainly has nothing to do with education.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
Perhaps I may say a few words in support of my noble friend Lord Kilmarnock. This clause is causing considerable apprehension among the teaching profession, and such an amendment as my noble friend proposes would give teachers some reassurance that the Secretary of State's proposals will be scrutinised. The teachers do not know what may come forth from on high; that is the trouble. A provision such as that proposed would give them some reassurance. I am afraid that all this arises from the lack of trust that at the moment obtains between the teaching profession and the Secretary of State. A provision such as my noble friend proposes would do something to give reassurance in a very sensitive situation.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am in sympathy with that which the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, wants to do, but I share his scepticism about the effectiveness of statutory instruments and regulations being laid before both Houses of Parliament—largely for the reasons he gives; that they are not capable of amendment, and by convention they are not actually turned back, particularly if they have been approved by another place.
I wonder what the noble Lord feels about the suggestion I made a few minutes ago: that before we approve Clause 37 as part of the Bill, we should see a model statutory instrument. It is when considering the later stages of the Bill that we shall need to know in writing, and not simply from the lips even of the noble Earl, what really is in the Government's mind.
§ The Earl of Swinton
This amendment, as has been admirably explained, would require that regulations made by the Secretary of State on the subject of teacher appraisal should not come into force unless they have been laid before, and approved by affirmative resolution of, each House of Parliament. I would not go so far as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, on this.
I am sure that all noble Lords are aware that Clause 48 of the Bill makes clear the Government's intention that powers of the Secretary of State to make orders or regulations under the Bill shall be exercised by statutory instrument, and that such instruments shall 424 be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament; that is, the negative resolution procedure should apply.
I see no reason why the regulations on appraisal should be treated differently from others in this Bill. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, that they will indeed be of major importance, but I have more than once made clear what is the Government's position on this matter. Our intention is that the framework for appraisal arrangements should be drawn up on a voluntary basis by agreement between the parties concerned; teacher representatives, the local authority employers, and central government.
That process will surely involve much consultation and debate. In fact, that debate has been running for some time and, as far as it is possible with the unions blocking development work to look into the practical issues, my right honourable friend has spelt out the sort of arrangements that he would like to see. They are positive arrangements designed to stimulate professional development and improve management. I should have thought that when the regulations come before Parliament they will contain nothing that has not been the subject of analysis and open debate between the parties concerned.
I can assure everyone that the regulations will not be pulled out of the hat. My right honourable friend really does not have some overpowering white rabbit that he is waiting to unleash upon a miserable band of teachers throughout the country. There will be time for consultation. In those circumstances, the process of negative resolution is surely entirely appropriate. If there remain matters of concern, then the regulations can, after all, be prayed against and a debate must be held. Consequently, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw this amendment.
§ Lord Wilson of Langside
I myself found the Minister's reply to the speech of my noble friend Lord Kilmarnock most disturbing, because it does not meet at all the point on the basis of which my noble friend presented his amendment to the Committee.
The Minister is content in simply saying that he sees no reason to treat this provision any differently from the other provisions of the Bill that may have the effect of empowering the Secretary of State to make regulations. As I understood the speech of my noble friend, he was saying, and in this he was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, that the regulations under Clause 37 should be treated differently because everyone who had spoken on the earlier amendments had expressed grave anxieties about the provisions of Clause 37. Indeed, I listened to all the speeches that were made, and no one said a word in favour of them with the exception of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, for whose judgment in many matters I have the greatest respect. However, it was clear that, in relation to this matter, the noble Baroness had not listened at all to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, who expressed the gravest anxieties about the provisions of this clause.
The Minister's answer does not meet the point. Everyone who spoke, with the exception of the noble Baroness, expressed the gravest concern. People who are knowledgeable and experienced as regards the 425 matters with which the Bill is concerned, expressed the gravest concern. Surely that is a perfectly good reason for treating the provisions in this clause relating to statutory instruments quite differently from the other provisions in the Bill.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ The Earl of Swinton
The noble Lord, Lord Somers, spoke in support of this clause on two occasions. However, I can understand all that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, has said if, with all respect, he believes what the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, reads into this provision, which is that all the teachers will be taken over by some coup by my right honourable friend and paid for centrally. If Members believe that, then I can understand the reasons for their anxiety. However, as I have tried to explain, that is not the point of the provision. The negative procedure is perfectly adequate to cope with anything which may arise under this clause or, indeed, the rest of the Bill.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
I did not say that I thought that that was what would happen. I was quoting the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, who said that that would have been the right thing to do. I do not fear the Secretary of State taking over the teachers in this country. He would not be Secretary of State very long if he did so.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
I did not say that it was the right thing to do. I said that I could understand it, and I made the confession that if I were the Secretary of State for Education it was what I would want to do. However, that is not quite the same thing. Let us get the record straight, otherwise there will be more trouble.
§ The Earl of Swinton
There seems to be a general misunderstanding, but I can give a categorical undertaking that what has been put forward is not in the mind of either my right honourable friend or anyone else in the Government at present.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
I was as amazed as the noble Earl to hear the noble Lord, Lord Somers, make the remarkable statement—and I wrote it down—that our work has nothing to do with education. If he really means that, he would do the noble Earl out of a job, other of course than in his distinguished capacity as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Somers, that I am not suggesting consulting Parliament upon something trivial; I am suggesting that Parliament should be consulted on a whole new mechanism to be imported into the field of education—an almost revolutionary concept. I do not think that that can be put down as trivial.
As always, I listened with respect to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, who followed me when I pointed out the constraints under which we operate in this House on affirmative instruments. However, I remind the noble Lord that Motions have been moved—and no doubt will be moved—before or after instruments of 426 that kind, asking the Government to withdraw them. If my memory does not serve me ill, regulation have been withdrawn after debate in this House. Indeed, I think that that was possibly the case in relation to a Motion of my noble friend Lady Seear on equal pay for equal work. Perhaps I overdid it myself in suggesting that this form of procedure is entirely toothless; I do not think that it is.
The noble Earl has assured us that regulations will not be pulled out of a hat. He has talked about consultation. I should like to ask him what form of consultation he has in mind. Is he thinking of a discussion paper, a Green Paper, a press release, or what? Perhaps before I decide what to do with the amendment, the noble Earl will, with the leave of the House, say a few words on the matter.
I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, for his support, and I am bound to say, bearing in mind the balance of the debate at the moment, that I am not satisfied that we do not need to bring these regulations back to Parliament in the form of a statutory instrument. A great deal of concern about Clause 37 has been expressed on all sides of the Committee. I do not know whether the noble Earl is able to tell me something about the form of consultation?
§ The Earl of Swinton
Yes, I can indeed, It has been going on for a long time. The Government's intentions on appraisal were first set out in March 1983 in Teaching Quality, which said:The Government believe that the formal assessment of teacher performance is necessary.Since the summer of 1984 the department has been trying to launch practical fieldwork to work out how appraisal might best operate in the schools. Specific grant for this work has been available, but the opposition of the unions has meant that it has not been taken up.
In October 1984 the Secretary of State wrote to the local authority associations and the teacher unions suggesting for the first time the possibility of his taking an enabling power to secure appraisal. Both employers and unions, including the NUT, have continued to endorse the idea of appraisal in principle. For example, when my right honourable friend met the NUT in January 1985 there was considerable agreement on the value of appraisal for the professional and personal development of teachers.
In March 1985 the White Paper, Better Schools, which referred to appraisal, appeared. In June 1985 HMI issued Quality in Schools: Evaluation and Appraisal, and so on. Quite honestly, consultation is taking place the whole time. There is a great deal of discussion taking place at the moment.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
I am most grateful to the noble Earl. He has pointed out that there has been a great deal of discussion of the idea of appraisal in principle, and he has pointed to various discussion and background papers. However, we are now in the area of a statute and that statute is extremely sketchy in this respect. Therefore, although I am grateful for the noble Earl's attempt to satisfy me, I am bound to say that I do not think that he has done so, and I am inclined to test the opinion of the Committee.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 86B) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 109.428
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Airedale, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Amherst, E.||McNair, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Mais, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Mishcon, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Birk, B.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Oram, L.|
|David, B.||Phillips, B.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Rea, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Foot, L.||Serota, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Grey, E.||Shepherd, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Stedman, B. [Teller.]|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Kennet, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Kirkhill, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Listowel, E.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||White, B.|
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Willis, L.|
|Longford, E.||Wilson of Langside, L.|
|Alport, L.||Ferrers, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Forester, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Gardner of Parkes, B.|
|Bessborough, E.||Geddes, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Gisborough, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Glanusk, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Gray of Contin, L.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Greenway, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Gridley, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Harris of High Cross, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Henley, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hereford, Bp.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hives, L.|
|Cox, B.||Hood, V.|
|Craigavon, V.||Hooper, B.|
|Croft, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Killearn, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Kitchener, E.|
|De La Warr, E.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Lawrence, L.|
|Denning, L.||Layton, L.|
|Digby, L.||Long, V. [Teller.]|
|Dilhorne, V.||Lothian, M.|
|Dormer, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||McFadzean, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Mancroft, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Marley, L.|
|Elton, L.||Marsh, L.|
|Marshall of Leeds, L.||Somers, L.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Swinton, E.|
|Mottistone, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Orkney, E.||Thurlow, L.|
|Penrhyn, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Peyton of Yeovil, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Portland, D.||Trumpington, B.|
|Rawlinson of Ewell, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Rodney, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Romney, E.||Vivian, L.|
|Rugby, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|St. Aldwyn, E.||Whitelaw, V.|
|St. John of Bletso, L.||Wolfson, L.|
|Sandford, L.||Young, B.|
|Sempill, Ly.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Clause 37 agreed to.
§ Clause 38 [Grants for teacher training]:
§ [Amendment Nos. 86C and 86D not moved.]
§ On Question, Whether Clause 38 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I have not given notice of my intention to oppose the Motion that Clause 38 stand part of the Bill. It is always difficult to anticipate whether there are going to be amendments from any quarter on a particular clause which will enable one to say the things that have to be said. We appear to be approving, without comment, the provisions for in-service training of teachers.
It is appropriate that a word should be said about the Government's proposals, as with appraisal, on the basis that there is no opposition at all on this side to the in-service training of teachers but there are some doubts about the method whereby in-service training of teachers may be secured, and whether this is the best way of going about it. I rise on the Motion that the clause stand part in order that the Government may have an opportunity to make their position as clear as possible so as to help us in our consideration of how to treat these matters at later stages in the passage of the Bill.
The proposals for the in-service training of teachers were certainly anticipated and presaged by a speech by the Secretary of State in March of last year. There is no question that there has been consultation on these matters and that the matter is referred to in better schools. Indeed, the Secretary of State last year referred, very properly, to the report of 1984 of the Advisory Committee on the supply and education of teachers. However, I should not like it to be thought that we accept the claim made by the Secretary of State that these particular proposals for in-service training follow naturally from the proposals of the Advisory Committee on the supply and education of teachers and would have the support of that committee.
The Advisory Committee is a committee of all partners in the education service. Broadly what it 429 recommended was a programe of in-service education and training for teachers which should be accompanied by an increase in funding for the purpose, and that the local authorities should retain the power to decide how the money is spent. In view of what is said in the Notes on Clauses on this clause it is important that the in-service training system should be "systematic and purposeful"—I do not think anybody would disagree with that—but also that it should concentrate on "areas of national priority".
I am not convinced that the advisory council, if it were reassembled to consider this clause, would be so confident either that the resources are being made available or that there is sufficient agreement about areas of national priority to justify the way in which this clause is being proposed. I remind the Committee of what the advisory committee said in its recommendations. It said that there should be a general grant to education authorities for in-service education and training; and that it should be paid at 90 per cent. and distributed on a basis agreed between central and local government. Local education authorities should have discretion on how to use the grant within the INSET field, and the recommended target should be 5 per cent. of the expenditure on teachers' salaries.
The important matters here are two-fold. The first is that there should genuinely be new money for this purpose. I should welcome some words of assurance from the Government that the money which will be devoted to in-service education and training will be in addition to the general grant going to the education service. The second is that, as ACSET recommended, the power to decide how the money will be spent shall remain with the local authorities.
It is all very well to talk about areas of national priority. We can all identify areas such as, and particularly, science teaching or teaching in computing and information technology. One could name a number of others where this is of high priority for the development of our scientific, technological and industrial skills in this country. But that does not mean to say that an individual local authority necessarily has the same priorities.
It may be that an individual local authority has a high standard of scientific or engineering teaching and that in its case the money should be spent more on teaching basic mathematics, languages or other subjects which are as important but which may not have been identified by the Government as areas of national priority. To that extent surely local authorities must have the ability to take account, by all means, of the national priorities which the Government set, but to adapt them not to their own prejudices or to their own ill thought out wishes but to the actual quality of teaching in different areas that is available to them and the needs of the teaching staff that they have in their service.
This is not making any revolutionary point and it is certainly not making a point against the improvement and better co-ordination of the in-service education and training of teachers. That is an objective which we all share, but I should be grateful for something more than is in the Bill or was in the Second Reading speeches to indicate the way in which the Government see this provision taking place; an assurance that it will be genuinely new money, an assurance that the 430 individual needs of local authorities will be taken into account and that the many recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the Supply and Education of Teachers will be taken into account in the implementation of the clause.
§ The Earl of Swinton
Clause 38 will enable the Government to grant-aid local authority expenditure on the in-service training of teachers and certain others closely involved in the education service. It is idely accepted that the current arrangements are imperfect and that a more systematic approach to the planning of in-service training is required at local level. A new system of grants would create the framework for more purposeful and systematic planning.
I am aware that the local authorities wish to see an increase in expenditure on in-service training from the beginning of the scheme. We fully accept that our policies for improving schools will make increasing demands on teachers and that extensive in-service training will be required to equip teachers to respond to these demands. We also consider that in-service training should form a part of the career development of all teachers. The amount of local authority expenditure to be grant-aided under the intended new scheme in 1987–89 will be determined later this year as part of the Government's wider consideration of local authority expenditure.
The Government cannot take decisions on the financing of the scheme ahead of their general consideration of public expenditure, and so the question of whether it is new money has not yet been decided. But the new grant should simplify and systemise the existing arrangements for supporting expenditure by local authorities on training. I hope that the Association of County Councils and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities will enter into dialogue with us on the detailed aspects of the scheme to help to ensure that the new scheme provides the benefits which we intend.
I am also aware of concern that the new grant mechanism would be incompatible with the proper exercise of local authority discretion over the deployment of resources for in-service training. In reply I would stress our intention that the prime responsibility for planning, and implementing in-service training would remain with the local authority. Our aim is to create a better framework for more effective local planning and management which we believe is in the interests of local authorities and of teachers.
As I said, detailed arrangements for the new scheme are currently under consideration. We intend that grant will be provided to support local authority expenditure incurred after 1st April 1987, subject to enabling legislation and the coming into force of the necessary regulations.
§ Clause 38 agreed to.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 86E:
§ After Clause 38, insert the follow new clause:
§ ("Training of school governors
§ . A central advisory unit shall be set up to—
- (a) collect and publicise governor training materials:
- (b) promote good practices in governor training; and
- (c) develop new initiatives in governor training and support.")
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I should also like also to speak to Amendment No. 92 which is concerned with the same issue of ensuring that governing bodies have the training and skills necessary for the proper exercise of the functions laid on them by the Bill. I noticed that my noble friend Lady Phillips expressed scepticism about the training of governors. I do not know whether she was confident about the ability of governors to exercise their functions without training or whether she felt that it was a wrong use of public finance. No doubt she will be able to enlighten me on that point.
§ I say to my noble friend and to the Committee that for some years now there has been recognition by governors that the proceedings of a governing body, the effective conduct of governing bodies and the way in which an individual governor can perform effectively as a governor is not something which comes as a matter of animal instinct. It requires, particularly for those who have not been used to committee procedure, some introduction and training. A number of local authorities and the National Association of Governors and Managers particularly, have taken pains, at their own expense and not at the expense of the public purse, to provide training materials and courses for new members of governing bodies. I have seen the programme of the National Association of Governors and Managers and I express my admiration for the work that it has done within the limits of the resources available.
§ The Bill proposes, in our view rightly, that there should be a wider responsibility for governing bodies and a different method of composition of governing bodies. It seems logical that if we are to have considerable numbers of new people coming on to governing bodies—and many more governing bodies, apart from anything else, because the provision for governing bodies is universal and the provision for grouping of governing bodies is very restrictive—there will be literally thousands of members of governing bodies (sometimes a majority of a particular governing body) without the experience of committee work or of the education service which is available to those who have been serving on governing bodies in the past.
Therefore, to provide the minimum, as we see it, in these amendments—
A central advisory unit … to collect and publicise … training materials … promote good practices in governor training … and develop new initiatives in governor training and … support
—and then, in Clause 43, if I may anticipate it, to see to it that the local authority has the responsibility of ensuring that governors are provided with such training and support as is necessary for the effective discharge of the functions of a governing body seems to us a useful corollary to the intentions of the Government. It in no way conflicts with the purpose of the Bill. It does not involve central government in substantial additional expenditure and, indeed, with the continued co-operation of a body such as the National Association of Governors and Managers it need not involve substantial additional expenditure for the local authorities themselves.
§ I hope that the Government will feel that these amendments are in the spirit of the Bill and that they 432 will find some way of accepting them or of giving recognition to the principal behind them. I beg to move.
§ 6 p.m.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
I rise to support this clause. I think that it is one which is necessary and which very much needs inclusion in the Bill. The reason I support it is that some time ago when I was going round looking at governing bodies I realised that many of them were unaware of what were their rights as governors and, because of their unawareness, all kinds of decisions were taken that should not have been taken—decisions which had to be corrected by the local education officers.
I should like to use the analogy that I have used on numerous occasions in emphasising the need for training. Years ago, when I was first appointed a magistrate, there was no training for magistrates. My only way of gaining experience was by sitting back and listening and then asking questions, after the case had been tried, of the people who were on the bench or of the learned clerk. I feel that the new decisions of the Lord Chancellor's department—and they are not really new now; they have been in force for several years—on training magistrates are good and proper. I feel that due to that we have many good magistrates who are doing a very useful job throughout the country.
If we had a similar scheme for the training of governors, it would again improve the government of schools. I am not suggesting that we introduce a training scheme that would enable all governors to come away with a diploma or with a B Ed. Degree; I am wanting something simple that can be operated. I differ from my noble friend Lord McIntosh on this. I would rather see a national agreement on training than leave it to the local authorities. I would leave it to local authorities to administer, but I should like to see a national body that would devise a scheme that would be acceptable to local authorities—but we are getting on to that matter later. I feel at this moment that the amendment before us is good, is practicable, and will work. Quite a number of good local authorities, sensible local authorities, have introduced this already, and it is proving of great benefit to a great many people who spend a lot of time in service to education as governors.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey (because I think that he said that he was speaking also to Amendment No. 92), what he has in mind by the use in that amendment of the word "support". Support apparently is something distinct from training. I do not think that there is much dispute about training, but "support" is a very general expression. Does it mean support of a financial value—the provision of a secretary or a car? It is a very imprecise expression, as I understand it. It might possibly be the basis of some abuse. At any rate, before the Committee is asked to decide on this amendment I should like to know how the noble Lord himself understands that word.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am happy to answer the noble Lord, although I think that my noble friend 433 Lord Taylor, has in effect already answered him by his analogy in relation to magistrates. I would remind him that Clause 43 at present provides that local authorities shall make available,to every … governor (free of charge) such training as the authority consider necessary".The word "support" means that not only should the training be available but that such things as fares to the training centres, subsistence to pay for meals while the training is going on—that kind of thing, which is proposed by the Government themselves in Clause 44 for the meetings of governing bodies—should also be available on those occasions when training takes place. I think it is rational that if you are providing support for governors to attend governors' meetings you should provide the same support when they are attending a course of training.
§ Baroness Phillips
Since my noble friend mentioned me, although I had no intention of speaking on this particular amendment I naturally rise to the bait that is laid. I do so whether it comes from my own Front Bench or from the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who has not actually laid me any bait in this particular discussion. But I would question very much whether people who are trained for voluntary exercises actually perform them much better than those who adopt the old system of, "Sit next to Nellie!" Like the noble Lord here, I went on the Bench when there was no formal training. I do not think that I was ever a very bad magistrate, because I have got reasonable intelligence and I was given an idea of what my particular functions were.
Equally, as a chairman of governors I found that our governors, when they came on to the boards of the voluntary schools—and I am beginning to think that the voluntary schools must be quite different from state schools, bearing in mind the different matters that have emerged from these debates—were each given the details of their particular conditions, of the fact that they were governors and of the things that they could and could not do. I cannot recall any occasion when we ever came into conflict with the local education authority or, indeed, when we did not perform an excellent piece of work.
I was, equally, an unpaid and untrained councillor many years ago. I do not think that the quality of local government then was any less than it is today. There are moments when I think that it was decidedly better. I think that you can overstate the value of training voluntary people. I think that if you get people who are intelligent and have a knowledge of life, they cannot go very far wrong. My reason particularly for being concerned about this is that if this Bill is going to cost £10 million then it is all going to come from the same source. It is going to come from a local education authority. If you are spending it on training governors while at the same time you have books in the schools which are a disgrace and in some cases almost unreadable, and if you have teachers who are not receiving an adequate salary, it seems to me that the money would be better employed in that direction rather than in introducing some frills. If, much later on, another government is elected which want to put more money in, that is a different thing. But that is my particular objection. I say to my noble friend that I 434 should like to see the money spent on the things that are really vital; namely, the children and the people who are teaching them.
§ Lord Beloff
If I may intervene between the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, it seems to me that a lot of the argument depends on what is thought of in terms of the amount of time that would be devoted. The word "training" means all sorts of things. If you are talking about training for a man to pilot an aircraft, then this is a matter of months or, in some cases, of years. Or are you thinking of something which could be done on a Saturday afternoon, just learning the rules of committee procedure? Or is there something in between? Unless we know the density, as it were, of the training, and the amount of time which governors are supposed to spend on it, we cannot answer the question as to how much the support would cost. Nor do I think we can altogether estimate the willingness of governors to submit themselves to training in addition to the work that they already do.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am grateful to the noble Lord for intervening between myself and my noble friend. I suggest that I am intervening between him and the Bill he is supporting, because the questions he is raising apply not only to the amendment but also to Clause 43 of the Bill. It is his Government which are proposing that,there is made available to every such governor (free of charge) such training as the authority consider necessary for the effective discharge of those functions.If his question is valid—and I believe it is—it is to his own Front Bench that he should be directing the question. I can only give my personal answer; I cannot answer on behalf of the Government who are proposing to enact it in law.
My personal answer to my noble friend would be that I readily concede that when she first became a chairman of governors or a magistrate her native wit and understanding of the way in which our society operates made it unnecessary for her to have formal training. I am in no doubt about that whatsoever. However, in view of the many thousands of people without committee experience who are going to be involved—and I hope we are not going to become a nation of committee members because that would be a fate worse than death, even though I suspect most of us spend more of our time in committees than we would wish to—as new members of governing bodies a modicum of help would be useful on how to achieve certain things, when and how to ask questions and what the rights are of going to a school and talking to people there. I believe the Government are sincere in wishing to open up governing bodies to more people and different kinds of people. There are many things which are already the content of training for governors in good authorities and which could be valuable to these new governors. I do not believe that is in any way in conflict with the Government's wishes.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)
Perhaps I can start by saying that I agree with a good deal of what the noble Lord, 435 Lord McIntosh, has just said on the training of governors although I do not wish to come between him and his noble friend Lady Phillips, with whom I may say I quite frequently find myself in agreement. I think that Clause 43 has been widely welcomed in connection with the training of governors and it has to be read in conjunction with the early clauses in the Bill, setting out the greater importance and the greater proportion of governors who will be parent-governors, the greater importance we attach to the role of the governing body and therefore the need quite properly to train those who are to take part in these governing bodies.
I think one can advance very good reasons for this training; and it is on that point that I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, because I think there are many good reasons, particularly for parents who perhaps will not have had the experience of serving on a committee or of being a school governor, so that they may become from, as it were, day one, more effective governors than they otherwise might have been. Of course, some people are naturally good and they make naturally good governors without training, but I think that Clause 43 has been widely welcomed and that its provisions are to be seen in relation to the earlier clauses in the Bill on the role of governing bodies.
That said, I hope I can show that the new clause which is proposed in Amendment No. 86E is misconceived and not necessary,principally for two reasons. The first is the implication that local education authorities will not or cannot effectively organise the necessary provision. Until a year or so ago every survey showed that the provision of, and presumably interest in, governor training was extremely patchy; but things have changed dramatically. Many schemes are evolving in LEA areas, and arising from this two-thirds of LEAs put in extremely high-quality bids for the 10 pilot projects in appropriate forms of governor training just starting with the aid of education support grants. The results will be available in time for the new Clause 43 duty about training. I think that is good news, and news that we would all welcome.
LEAs do not have to be self-reliant in governor training. Many make use of other agencies which are active in the field: for example, dioceses in respect of voluntary schools, the Open University, the Workers' Education Association, the National Association of Governors and Managers, the Society of Education Officers and the National Association of Head Teachers. Clause 43 allows continued use of all these organisations and the talents that they represent.
The second misconception relates to the nature of the training needed. The aim is not to train governors to the point where they can in some way "out-perform" the school's teachers, on the one hand, or the LEA on the other. The aim is to give governors sufficient background knowledge and self-confidence to apply their natural ability as governors within the carefully drawn-up framework of responsibilities in Part III of the Bill. Those functions recognise the governing body as an essentially lay body between the professionals in the teaching force on the one hand, 436 and the LEA on the other. The necessary training therefore need not be elaborate.
If I may now turn to the second amendment, Amendment No. 92, where changes are proposed to Clause 43, here the first change is that the training has to be "provided" rather than "made available". Under this Bill, training is not to be obligatory and of course in that regard it differs from training of magistrates which, as I understand it, is obligatory. But the completion of training cannot be a pre-condition of taking up service as a governor. The Government very much hope that new governors will avail themselves of the opportunities for training. Against this background, I believe that the present formulation in Clause 43(b) is the right one.
The second change is that that which is to be provided has to be "necessary" to some absolute standard, rather than as judged by the LEA. As it is the LEA that is responsible for securing the provision, it has logically to be for the authority to decide what is required. Of course that does not give the LEA carte blanche: it would need to be able to demonstrate that it had seriously addressed the issue and come to a reasoned judgment. If it failed to provide anything or discharged its duty in a manifestly frivolous way, it would be liable to corrective direction by the Secretary of State under Sections 68 or 99 of the 1944 Act. That would of course be an extreme case. A much more obvious day-to-day force on LEAs is the fact that I am sure the governors will make it all too clear if they feel they are not being adequately prepared. It would therefore seem unnecessary to have some central standard set here, presumably by the proposed central unit, although I see that its role is to be only advisory. Indeed, such prescription could actually stifle welcome innovation and yet higher quality provision.
Finally, there has been some discussion about the word "support". My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked what it meant. As I understood the answer given by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, he suggested that this would include such matters as travelling expenses and subsistence, which might be available to those undertaking training. The answer would be that this would be covered by the provisions already in Clause 44 if the local education authority had a scheme of paying such allowances; and so that particular point would be covered. I very much agree with what my noble friend said: if it does not mean that, it is an imprecise term and it would be difficult to translate it into a meaningful duty to be added to the statute book.
I think it is encouraging that there is every sign of great life in the whole area of governor training. Again, I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, said about this. This is anticipated in the new, and widely welcome duty proposed in Clause 43. Given governors' own clear interest in receiving appropriate training, the Government see no need to alter the wording of Clause 43 or to construct some new central agency by means of a new clause. I believe that this would add to bureaucracy. It would be an unnecessary drain on resources. It may even stifle some of the welcome diversity that is now emerging. I hope that the Committee will be reassured that we are mindful of the points that are raised, and that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw these amendments.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I have found that a helpful and constructive reply, and I shall certainly read carefully what the noble Baroness said. I noticed that the brief that she was reading from at one stage was written on the assumption that the central advisory unit was prescriptive rather than advisory. She herself observed that this was the case, and what we were proposing was advisory rather than setting central standards. I think that that is an important distinction which we ought to have made more clear in moving the amendments.
I was also encouraged to learn from her, and it was due to my ignorance that I did not know beforehand, that there had been so many applications for grants under the education support grant. I wonder whether she feels able to say whether the pilot project, which was so successful, would now be extended to cover all local education authorities and a wider range of projects. I do not know whether that is something which the noble Baroness feels able to answer now or whether she would prefer to write to me, having read what I have said. I am happy to leave it on that basis. I believe that we are not far apart on these matters and I am sure that the intention is in the right place. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment. by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 39 [Recoupment]:
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 88:
§ Page 41, line 11, after ("amount") insert ("reflecting the average cost of provision to the providing authority").
§ The noble Lord said: We now turn to the complex area of recoupment among local authorities for educational expenditure, and I have to say immediately that I am by no means an expert on this subject. I understand that it is an area in which a certain number of people in the Department of Education and Science are expert and a large number of other people are happy to leave it to them, so anything I say about recoupment I say with considerable diffidence. If I may, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 88 and 89, and I should like to treat them as probing amendments because my understanding of the situation may be totally wrong.
§ As I read it, it appears that there are two ways in which the Government can determine the basis on which recoupment takes place. As I understand Clause 39, the Government's intention first of all is that wherever possible there should be agreement between the authorities concerned about the level of recoupment. I think we can all be agreed on that; but it says that if there is no agreement about the level of recoupment the Secretary of State shall lay down regulations to cover the level of recoupment.
§ There are two ways of doing it. One would be the average cost of provision to the providing authority, and the other would be the marginal cost of provision. As I understand it, the marginal cost of provision could lead to difficulties, either when the actual level of provision varies greatly between one local authority and another, or where the unit costs are substantially 438 different, as for example where you have an inner city authority, let us say the Inner London Education Authority (which has the additional costs of London weighting), the additional costs very often of higher rateable values and higher rates, and higher costs of expenditure, provision of ancillary staff, and so on.
§ The intention of this amendment is to see whether the Government can be a little more precise than they have been in Clause 39; to see whether it is possible to reflect the necessary differences in costs between different authorities; and to see whether there is any way of making clearer to local authorities the way in which recoupment costs are going to be settled by the Secretary of State. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
I am very happy to start by agreeing with the noble Lord opposite that this is an extremely complex area. The purpose of Clause 39, as I understand it, is to put beyond doubt the legality of the existing inter-authority payments committee system which has been operating successfully for many years. It will also allow the Secretary of State to use his default powers to bolster that system where appropriate by giving directions based on national average costs. This system inevitably contains an element of rough justice, but I think it is to be preferred to one based on actual costs because of its administrative simplicity and because it provides a better balance between the interests of the home and the providing authority.
As I understand the noble Lord's amendments. the average costs which he suggests should be reflected would, in fact, be the average between the providing and the home authority, whereas, as I said, the acknowledged system under the inter-authority payments committee system reflects the national average. Therefore, the amendments appear to frustrate the purpose of the clause and should he resisted.
I do not know if I have helped to clarify, but perhaps not, judging by the look on the noble Lord's face.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, but what she says is not in accordance with my understanding of the way in which the inter-authority payments committee actually operates. I understood that it was not a single national level but that it was an agreed and negotiated level of recoupment which includes a London weighting in the consideration. Therefore, if there is a recoupment between the Inner London Education Authority with its necessarily highest costs and another neighbouring authority, the London weighting as applied to ILEA's costs would be taken into account under existing arrangements; but there is no assurance that it would be taken into account in the arrangements as proposed by the Bill. However, this is a technical matter, and rather than detain the Committee with this I would prefer to read what the noble Baroness has said. I am sure she will wish to write to me if there is any difference of understanding or of evidence. I think it is preferable if I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 89 not moved.]439
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 87:
Page 41, line 19, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—
(" (b) further education of a kind such that expenditure on its provision would fall within paragraph 6 of Schedule 10 to the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980.")
§ The noble Lord said: This is on the same subject but it is not quite such a technical amendment, although the wording of it does seem to be totally technical. Certainly, when I first looked at ways of achieving what we wanted to do I was amazed that there was no clearer way of producing it. The intention of the amendment—I hope we have got it right—is to extend the recoupment system to adult education and not just to advanced further education. The reasons for this are more than technical because it is increasingly recognised, not only by the Department of Education and Science and the education community as a whole but also by those concerned with training in the Manpower Services Commission and elsewhere, that there is no longer a hard and fast line to be drawn between advanced further education and vocational education and training. There is a somewhat illogical division between the education and training sectors in our society and government. I am not in any way arguing for a Department of Education and Training, in case anybody should draw that conclusion. While we have differences in the organisation of different aspects of what is after all a whole, which is the determination in our society to have a better educated and trained adult population and workforce, it seems illogical for adult education to be excluded from the recoupment provisions in the Bill, and I hope that Amendments Nos. 87 and 90 will achieve the objective of extending the basis of recoupment. I hasten to say that it should not involve any increase in public expenditure because it is a balancing out between local authorities. I beg to move.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Baroness Hooper
The effect of these amendments would be to extend the principle of automatic recoupment enshrined in subsection (1) to all types of further education except those financed from the advanced further education pool, as the noble Lord has explained. The Government are keen to remove the undesirable restrictions and anomalies in the present voluntary recoupment arrangements for non-advanced further education and, in particular, to eliminate the difference in the arrangements relating to those pursuing post-complusory schooling and those seeking further education in a college. However, we do not believe that automatic recoupment is appropriate for all types of further education for a number of reasons.
I recognise that the amendment's objective is to include within the scope of the automatic recoupment provisions non-vocational adult education. That is something that the Government are opposed to in principle. The Government believe that the generality of non-vocational adult education students should make a significant contribution to the cost of that type of provision. However, authorities' policies on the degree of subsidy to be offered for adult education vary widely, and the Government would not wish to create a situation in which authorities which themselves provide little or no subsidy for non-vocational adult 440 education classes were forced to accept recoupment charges from authorities pursuing a policy of high subsidy.
Another significant factor in the Government's thinking is the rate of change and development in the types of provision offered on non-advanced further education and the mechanisms for financing them. Increasingly, and at all levels within the further education service, training provision is being offered to employers on a full-cost recovery basis. Other types of provision—for example, off-the-job training under the YTS—are still in the process of development, and the local authorities are themselves considering whether recoupment arrangements are apropriate and what form they may take. In that developing situation the Government consider it sensible to define the scope of the free-trade provision in regulations rather than have a definition written into the primary legislation which may prove inappropriate or inadequate in a relatively short space of time.
We also need to consider the intention of recoupment arrangements with the system for assessing authorities' needs as part of the distribution of rate support grant. Our proposals are designed to be consistent with the existing rate support grant system but would also give scope for changes to respond to alterations in the system for financing local government. That flexibility would be lacking if the amendments were accepted. In the hope of maintaining maximum flexibility in this matter, I ask your Lordships to reject the amendments.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
I wonder whether I could ask the noble Baroness the Minister to reconsider this matter. I think that adult education is excluded because it is not concerned with vocational training, and that is true. However, if we look far enough into the future it could become an important sector of education. The likelihood is that with the advance of technology the working week will become substantially reduced. The idea that people will be utterly happy about that will depend entirely on their capacity to do things when they are not working. It is 20 years since I set up an adult education body because I was worried about that. I am even more worried about it now because the prospect of what I am suggesting is much closer.
There is no reasonable doubt that the concept of the 40-hour working week will not be sustained for the next 10 years. We must prepare for retirement. People will not be happy if it just comes and they have not prepared for it. We need adult education to help people. It is important that the education service should provide people with the opportunity to develop interests and skills, not necessarily for work or production but so that they can live happily. I therefore ask the noble Baroness the Minister to look at this matter again, because I do not think that it is as simple as the Bill suggests.
§ Baroness Hooper
I can reassure the noble Lord by saying that this is a subject which is generally considered to be important and the Government will continue to look at it. In my original response I explained that we see this as a developing situation. That is why we seek the maximum flexibility, which we feel the amendments do not necessarily provide.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am glad that the noble Baroness felt able to start to heed the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, because what he said is true. The distinction between vocational and non-vocational education is no longer a tenable distinction from the point of view of statute law when we have, as we have now and shall have in the future, a population, many members of which do not have access to a full-time job and whose working life will change in ways they do not expect and do not want, and who face retirement earlier than they would wish and without the preparation that they would wish to have for retirement.
We see a growth in our service industries at the expense of manufacturing industry. That growth will certainly include a growth of leisure industries, for which adult education of the type that we understand is probably a more relevant preparation than some of the stricter vocational training which falls within the scope of automatic recoupment.
When we look at those changes over decades and not years, it will be seen in due course that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, has it right, and that increasingly that distinction will not be possible and the Government will not be able to sustain it. I was equally unconvinced by the argument that some local authorities provide more support for non-vocational education than others and that therefore it would be unfair to those which choose to provide a lower level of support.
I remind the noble Baroness that she successfully resisted my previous amendments which provided a basis upon which recoupment could be calculated. As she did successfully resist them, the amount is to be determined in accordance with the direction given by the Secretary of State. It is therefore in the Government's hands to set the recoupment at a level which avoids the injustice which the noble Baroness was pointing out.
I am not satisfied by the Government's answer. I hope that the Government will be able to go further than the noble Baroness did in her response to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander. I would certainly welcome, as I am sure he would, any indication of further thinking between now and a later stage of the Bill. Failing that, it may well be a matter to which we shall feel it necessary to come back. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 90 not moved.]
§ Clause 39 agreed to.
§ Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 90ZA:
§ After Clause 39, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Costs of establishing new voluntary schools.
§ Where any persons submit to the Secretary of State, under subsection (2) of section 13 of the Education Act 1980, proposals for the establishment by them, or by persons whom they represent, of a new school and for its maintenance by the local education authority as a voluntary school, the Secretary of State shall by order direct that the whole of the cost incurred in the establishment of the school as would, apart from the order, fall to be defrayed by the persons who establish it, shall be defrayed by the local education authority, provided that he is convinced that the establishment of such a school is a desirable addition to the range of educational provisions available within the local education authority area.").442
§ The noble Lord said: I think I should start by admitting that this amendment is technically defective. If I did not do so, the noble Earl would, I am sure, point it out to me. But I think I am right in saying that it should refer to Section 13 of the Education Act 1980 and not to the 1944 Act. But I hope I shall be forgiven by the Committee for that lapse, as this is simply a probing amendment designed to explore the attitude of the Government to the proposal which it contains.
§ There is undoubtedly a crisis in education at present and a sign of this crisis is the philosophical debate raging about where power and control over education should lie. There are forces at work, not only in the Conservative Party, urging that even greater involvement by the Secretary of State is the way ahead. The latest idea for Crown schools, for example, is merely an extension of the highly interventionist style of the present Secretary of State whether in regard to exams, the curriculum or the quality of teachers.
§ There is an alternative approach or philosophy, which is one that the Alliance supports, and which sees the strength of the education system as residing in local control and decentralisation. Already within the maintained sector there is an alternative type of school, particularly in inner city areas. The voluntary sector, mainly through denominational schools, remains popular and successful. In these schools, there seems to be perhaps an additional quality arising, it could be, from a certain inner coherence that comes from the religious dimension or from the spirit of the original founders. But it is difficult, if not impossible, for a group of people with some vision about education, but not necessarily denominational in origin, to come together to start a new school.
§ At present, as I understand it, new voluntary schools can be established with the maintenance being paid by local education authorities, but with at least 15 per cent. of the capital cost of setting up the school having to be met by those establishing the school. This 15 per cent. hurdle, or barrier, effectively prevents groups of people other than institutions with financial resources, such as churches, from being able to set up new schools in the voluntary sector.
§ The amendment seeks to answer that difficulty and it provides a mechanism whereby the Secretary of State, if he is convinced of the desirability and the necessity of doing this can, out of a special fund, provide that 15 per cent. of pump priming money. One can imagine that perhaps in some prosperous areas it would not be difficult for parents to come together to do that themselves; but in other areas, particularly within the inner cities, this might not be so easy. So the amendment is designed to get round that difficulty.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ I suggest that there is a real need for new voluntary non-fee paying and non-selective schools, especially in areas with problems. It is not just the local authorities, the churches or indeed the state that can have bright ideas about education or that can breathe new life into educationally deprived areas. Rather than developing an entirely new concept such as the Crown school, which the Government have floated or mooted, and which would presumably be centralist and selective, 443 why not adapt the system we already have by allowing the Secretary of State discretion to meet the 15 per cent. of the capital cost of founding a voluntary school from a special fund?
§ A new school in the voluntary sector which is founded from within the community with the parents as the driving force could add a new dimension to a local authority's provision, particularly if it is small in size. We should, I suggest, be willing to encourage experiments and new ideas along these lines but still within the maintained sector. The Secretary of State, on the advice of HMI, should be able to prime the pump of this process by some mechanism along the lines suggested in the amendment. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Swinton
The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, has explained that this is a probing amendment and that the intention behind it is to facilitate the establishment of new, small aided schools in inner-city areas, especially by parents, who may not be able to afford the promoters' financial responsibility for such schools. The Government very much sympathise with the thinking behind this amendment and I am sure it strikes a chord with many noble Lords. However, I do not believe the amendment provides the right answer, quite apart from the technical defects which the noble Lord himself admitted.
Aided schools have a greater degree of autonomy from the local education authority than other schools in the maintained sector. But that autonomy is in return for the governing body's or, in the case of a new school, the promoters' bearing certain financial liabilities. They are responsible for the capital costs of establishing the school and, thereafter, for external repairs and any capital alterations. They are eligible to receive 85 per cent. grant aid on such expenditure from the Secretary of State leaving the 15 per cent residue which is the subject of this amendment. Incidentally, I am not clear whether it is the noble Lord's intention that the governors' continuing liability for alterations and external repairs, once the school is in operation, is also to be borne by the LEA. The fact that they have to be responsible for that 15 per cent. is one of the reasons for the very success of aided schools.
The last part of the amendment seeks to restrict the concession to those new schools which the Secretary of State is convinced would be a desirable addition to the educational provision in the area. But every new school, of whatever type, whose establishment is approved by the Secretary of State would come within that description. All statutory proposals for new schools are decided on their merits, and there can be no question of a proposal being approved unless it would be a desirable addition to the educational provision in the area. The noble Lord might then argue that the role proposed for the Secretary of State could be made discretionary. But it would be highly invidious for the promoters of some new aided schools to have to find their 15 per cent. while, for others, this requirement was waived.
It is difficult to see how such a power could ever be exercised differentially. It would either lie unused or have the practical effect of reducing to nil the financial 444 liabilities of promoters and governors in respect of aided schools. That would not only have significant resource consequences; it would also do great damage to the foundations of the dual system which allows aided school governing bodies a measure of independence from LEAs in return for their financial contribution. Indeed, Section 15(2) of the 1944 Act currently allows the Secretary of State to grant aided status only if he is satisfied that the promoters are able and willing to meet their liabilities. There would thus be a quid, but no quo—in fact, there would be an awful lot of "quids" falling upon the head of the Government—and the continuation of that independence, which noble Lords on all sides of the House have supported, would be hard to justify.
I said that the Government are sympathetic to the noble Lord's arguments. What, then, he might well ask, are we doing about them? We have brought forward this Bill, one explicit aim of which is to increase the scope for parents beneficially to influence their children's education—in all schools, not just those in inner-city areas.
Under the Bill's various provisions, parents will be able to play a greater part than ever before in the running of their children's schools. They will have greater representation on school governing bodies and so share in the enhanced and clarified responsibilities which the Bill guarantees for such bodies. Only a minority of parents can become school governors, but Clauses 24 and 25 offer new opportunities for all parents to become more involved in the work of their children's schools. The annual parents' meeting will offer a forum for parents to probe local policies and to make their feelings known to to the governors, the head teacher and the LEA: those feelings cannot just be ignored. The Bill as a whole will serve to make LEAs and schools more responsive to the needs of the parents and the wider communities they serve.
In inviting the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment, I repeat that I understand his arguments but am clear that his amendment is not the right way to go about things since it would do substantial damage to the basis of our highly valued dual system. Instead, I ask him not to under-estimate the impact this Bill's provisions will have on the life of all schools through harnessing parents' natural and special interest in their children's progress.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
I am grateful to the noble Earl for the care he has taken in his reply. I have accepted from the outset the technical deficiency of the amendment. The noble Earl seemed to be concerned about the possibility of a sheep and goats result from this amendment in that it would be difficult to distinguish between those parents' groups which should be assisted and those which should not. It could be done by establishing special funds for special areas where there is a genuine crisis, which is I think almost universally acknowledged, particularly in the inner city areas. You could do it on an urban aid basis. Therefore, there would not be discrimination between those and perhaps more prosperous middle-class areas.
The noble Earl referred to the "quids" and the "quos". He said that this would cost a lot of "quids" and that these "quids" would be falling on the head of the Government. It is obviously true that no 445 educational initiative designed to meet the disastrous situation in areas of educational deprivation can be taken for nothing. That is clearly true. There would have to be some new money for an initiative of this kind. If the Government did a cost-benefit analysis of educationally deprived areas and tried to sort out what would be the results of having good, small, popularly supported schools in these areas, they would find that the overall real cost was not that great.
I am slightly disappointed. I am genuinely grateful to the noble Earl for saying that he appreciates my motives. I am slightly disappointed that the Government are not prepared to be a little more imaginative about this. I shall certainly not press it, but I shall go away, read the debate—the debate has been between the noble Earl and myself—think about it and come back possibly with some other proposal along these lines at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 40 agreed to.
§ Clause 41 [compensation payable by governing body on change from controlled to aided status]:
§ The Earl of Swinton moved Amendment No. 90A:
§ Page 45, line 7, leave out from ("as") to ("to"), in line 8, and insert ("the Secretary of State thinks fit having regard").
§ The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 90A, perhaps I may also speak to Amendment No. 91 standing in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. I think that his concern was to clarify the basis of the valuation of the compensation to be paid by the governing body to the LEA. The Government share that concern. We recognise that valuation is not an exact science and our intention in this clause, which is, I think, made clear by our amendment, is that the Secretary of State, in making any determination under subsection (1)(b), will be guided, but not constrained, by the current value of the buildings in question. We intend his discretion here to be quite wide because we feel that that is most likely to achieve the fairest result.
§ I understand that it is feared that there could be confusion over whether the valuation should be by reference to the current use of the property or to the development value. There is provision, in subsection (3), for the Secretary of State to take advice on the valuation, and his appointed adviser would normally be the district valuer. Some of your Lordships, and, I am sure, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, will be familiar with the provisions of paragraphs 7 and 8 to the 1946 Act, which require similar sorts of valuations. On many occasions we need the assistance of the district valuer in these cases, and he appears to have had no difficulty in producing a figure.
§ However, the important point is that because of the many variables there can be in individual cases we do not intend the Secretary of State to be bound by a particular formula when making his determination, though we do intend, as our amendment indicates, that he should have to take account of the valuation. Against this background I hope your Lordships, and especially the right reverend Prelate, will accept the 446 Government's amendment in preference to Amendment No. 91. I beg to move.
§ The Lord Bishop of Hereford
I am grateful to the noble Earl the Minister for what he has said. Our concern was that there should be some kind of guidelines about valuation, on which there clearly might be confusion if there was different practice from one area to another. In view of what the noble Earl has said, it is not the intention to move Amendment No. 91.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ The Lord Bishop of London had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 91:
§ Page 45, line 8, after ("current") insert ("use").
§ The Lord Bishop of Hereford
In the unavoidable absence of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, Amendment No. 91 is not moved.
§ [Amendment No. 91 not moved.]
§ Clause 41, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 42 [Reports to Secretary of State]:
§ On Question, Whether Clause 42 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I read this clause with some incredulity and I looked back at the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to see what provision was being made for extra civil servants in the Department of Education and Science to read all these reports to the Secretary of State. The governing body of every county, voluntary and maintained special school and establishment maintained for further education shall make reports and returns tc the Secretary of State. I cannot believe that the Secretary of State will read or have anybody read for him reports from every school and every further education establishment in the country.
I am encouraged (or, if you like, discouraged) in that view by the knowledge that the Department of Education and Science or its predecessor was originally set up in the 19th century to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors. That was the only original purpose. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, is not here to confirm my history, that the only purpose of the department was to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors. Yet in recent years, because it was an excessive burden on the department to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors, that reporting has been dispensed with.
If, because of pressure of work, the department is not able to undertake its primary and original task of receiving reports from inspectors, how on earth will it receive reports from every county, voluntary and maintained special school, and what use will be made of those reports? I suggest that the Government have fashioned a rod for their own back. If the Government are determined to proceed with this course, I ask them to tell us truthfully what use will be made of the reports.
§ The Earl of Swinton
I find myself in difficulty, because I thought that the noble Lord was going to oppose this clause for a completely different reason 447 than the one he has given. I thought that he might be opposing it because he felt that it was a crafty route for the Secretary of State to bypass local education authorities and to obtain information about schools or colleges and governing bodies behind his back.
§ The Earl of Swinton
I cannot imagine how the noble Lord could not have thought of that, but he did not!
I am of course well aware that Section 92 of the 1944 Act already requires LEAs to provide the Secretary of State with such information as he may require for the purpose of the exercise of his functions under the Education Acts. Here are the reasons. Sometimes, the information sought is for a particular policy initiative and is then requested through a circular sent to all local education authorities. I must stress that we agree that it would be quite inappropriate for information of that sort to be requested from individual governing bodies. I agree with the noble Lord that it would also be totally outside the capacity of the DES and the Welsh Office to cope with thousands of individual replies.
On other occasions, however, the information sought from an LEA concerns a particular school. That arises particularly where the Secretary of State is investigating a complaint under either Section 68 or Section 99 of the 1944 Act. Those sections are concerned respectively with unreasonable behaviour by LEAs or governing bodies in the exercise of their functions and with breaches of the statutory responsibilities of either LEAs or governing bodies. The Committee will note that both sections refer explicity to governing bodies, so where the Secretary of State is investigating a complaint against a governing body under either of those sections, clearly he needs to be empowered to obtain information from the governing body.
On such occasions it would not be appropriate for the information to be obtained through the agency of the LEA. It is not unknown for a complaint against the governing body to be made by the LEA. It would clearly not be fair for the governing body's side of the case to have to be submitted via the LEA with whom it was in disagreement. If the LEA were not involved in the complaint, which might relate to a matter wholly the responsibility of the governors, it again seems inappropriate for the LEA to act as the information-gathering agency. Either it would put its own gloss on the information—in which case it would no longer be a true reflection of the governing body's view of the matter—or it would simply send it on—in which case it would be adding a quite unnecessary layer to the proceedings and increasing the time taken to resolve the matter.
I can give the assurance that the Government do not intend to use that new power to cut out local education authorities from those matters on which it would properly be their responsibility to report to the Secretary of State. I believe that I have given the reasons why such information is necessary from time to time and why it is to be allowed to be gathered in and not made compulsory; I assure the noble Lord 448 of that. He will be delighted to know that it would be embarrassing my Secretary of State extremely if all that information was sent in just as a matter of course. Having heard that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will not oppose the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I am sorry that the noble Earl should think that I am so distrustful of the Government's motives that I would believe that they would wish to bypass local education authorities in an unjustified way. I have great faith in the noble Earl on a number of matters.
With the assurance that the Secretary of State will not be seeking reports from every county, voluntary and maintained special school, but will only be using that power in the way that the noble Earl described—to deal with particular needs for information from individual schools or possibly groups of schools, rather than from schools throughout the land—I am happy not to oppose the Question that Clause 42 stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 42 agreed to.
§ Clause 43 [Information and training for governors]:
§ [Amendment No. 92 not moved.]
§ Clause 43 agreed to.
§ The Earl of Swinton
This might be a convenient moment to break. In moving that the House do now resume, I suggest that we do not return to this Bill until five minutes past eight o'clock. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.