§ .—(1) The Secretary of State shall publish annual performance tables for the results of National Curriculum assessments at the end of key stage 1 for all relevant schools.
§ (2) The performance tables defined in subsection (1) shall include the average class size.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the first of various amendments that we shall propose from this side of the House which in essence put forward the policy of using existing facts—I repeat, existing facts: facts that are ascertainable and about which we can find out—as a means of judging whether the proposals in the Bill actually improve standards. One of the problems regarding educational reform over the past 20 years has been that rhetoric has often replaced facts. Whereas we all agree that we are in the business of improving standards, we can often hide reality behind a cloud of words.
§ I and my noble friends accept the view put forward decisively by the Government that smaller classes are in essence better than larger ones. As a former independent 527 school headmaster, I accept that independent schools have always valued smaller classes. However, I think we can enter into agreement in saying that reduction in class sizes is not of itself a universal panacea. On its own it may not be the total answer to the improvement of educational standards.
§ Perhaps I may mention a few other factors that we ought to consider: first, styles of teaching. There is sometimes a view that whole class teaching is better than dividing a class and in that case, some educationists argue, classes can be somewhat larger.
§ Another factor is care over correction of work. In this case, smaller classes are better than larger ones in that schoolteachers can devote more time to the class with which they are dealing. They can also give individual attention to pupils who have problems. Here again, smaller class size is of good value.
§ We can all agree on that. However, it is worth saying that problems exist. That brings me to the point of my amendment. It is concerned with those awful things, facts. It is concerned not merely with the improvement of standards, but with how they are improved and how they are judged. Our amendment proposes that a detailed analysis is made of the effect that reduced class sizes would have on school performance. We are offering the Government a means of knowledge. As Plato, Aristotle and many others said, knowledge is a means to truth—therefore, as I am sure the noble Baroness will agree, the more knowledge, the better. Knowledge is one of the most potent weapons in improving standards in education.
§ The amendment is very simple and direct. I suggest that it is well within the spirit of what the Government are trying to achieve in the Bill. The amendment would do two things. It would make available to all of us the overall performance of schools in relation to class size. That information would be of value to educationists. It would also enable us to judge the future. In my opinion and that of my noble friends, that could do nothing but good. It is on that note that I commend the amendment to the House.
§ I shall be interested to see how the noble Baroness can oppose the amendment because what I suggest is a study of facts. Her ingenuity in opposing my excellent amendments always amazes me, but in this case I am sure that she will say, "Well, I think I'd like these facts as well". I cannot see why she should not want them, but if she does say that, then I shall mistrust her motives, albeit somewhat slightly. I beg to move Amendment No. 1.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lord Dormand of Easington
My Lords, the noble Lord properly spent time speaking about the other factors which contribute towards a proper and full education. As he said, he has had great experience himself as a former headmaster of an independent school in the independent sector. What concerns me is that the party opposite should say these things and simply diminish the importance of small classes. One thing that private schools have in common is their small 528 classes. That applies to all the independent schools. I suggest that demonstrates it to be the most important factor in all of them.
We could go further. Brilliant teachers make a very big difference, as we know. I am glad that the noble Lord approves of that. However, he weakens his case considerably by saying that the number in a class is not all that important. It seems to me, and to those on this side of the House, that it is vitally important. That is why the Labour Party, and now the Labour Government, properly place such importance on it.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, I support the amendment strongly. It gets close to the nub of the matter in this part of the Bill and I took an interest in it at Committee stage, as I do now. The noble Lord, Lord Dormand, said that my noble friend's amendment diminishes the importance of the size of classes. Perhaps we shall come to that when the Minister moves her amendment, if she is particularly concerned about it.
To publish annual performance tables of this key stage is an essential feature of the state school system. People cannot choose without information and the teaching profession in the area cannot tell how they are getting on without the information. It seems to me that parents, teaching staff and everyone else are perfectly capable of making distinctions between the possibilities there are for schools and what their problems are. The noble Lord, Lord Dormand, shakes his head, but where it has been done it has proved to be the case. I know the party he represents does not like it—it is a historical matter—but the facts are that it is enormously helpful to everyone concerned. I support the amendment.
§ Lord Swinfen
My Lords, I support the proposal to reduce class sizes where possible, but I also maintain that it is the quality of teaching that is important. The Government have said that they have put aside a certain amount of money to assist in the reduction of class sizes. But I understand that it takes two or three years to train a teacher. When the Minister answers the question, can she say from where the additional teachers will come? If it takes so long to train teachers, it will take some time to find them.
§ Lord Tope
My Lords, I see the Minister rising and I am tempted to let her answer first because I would certainly not claim her ingenuity in explaining to the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, why I cannot support what he believes to be such obviously sensible amendments.
I say that for a number of reasons. First, I welcome his clear statement, accepting that smaller classes are desirable and make a difference. Having sat on the Bench I still sit on during the lifetime of the previous government, that was far from clear to me when the other Benches were reversed and the noble Lord's colleagues sat where the Minister now sits. It is far from clear to me that they believed that smaller class sizes made any difference at all, whether at infant or later ages. So I welcome one part of his statement: the clear recognition that class sizes make a difference.
529 The noble Lord went on to say that they were not a universal panacea. I do not think that any of us who are advocates of smaller class sizes would say that that is the be-all and end-all to better education for children. Of course it is not. A bad teacher will not necessarily be a good teacher in a smaller class and a good teacher will probably he better than a bad teacher in a large class. But there is no doubt that a good teacher will be an even better teacher in a smaller class where such teachers can give greater attention to the children.
We are therefore now talking about the publication of performance tables, more usually known as league tables because once they are published at national level that is what they inevitably become. They become league tables like performance tables at any other stage which are published.
There seems to be confusion about whether the information is available and, if it is, whether it is secret. The information is available, it is made available to parents and teachers. So judgments can be made. Where it is not available in published form anyway is at national level. I continue to have misgivings about league tables that are published. I will have even greater misgivings should we ever reach the stage of publishing crude league tables at key stage one. I do not think that we will do that. I read the Minister's reply when we had a debate on this at Committee stage. I thought that she answered the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, very well. I recognise that he was at a disadvantage at the time because the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, had just run out of the Chamber with his notes. We all felt for him on that occasion.
Added value or value added are the buzz words. That is important. If this kind of information is to be able to make a valid statement about the effect of reducing class sizes we need properly to be able to compare the situation as it is now with the situation as it develops as class sizes become smaller. We are not in a position to do that. I argue that a better comparison which is fairer to schools would be between the improvement at the base line when they start and when they have reached key stage one. So I do not doubt that in the fullness of time the Government will move towards publishing such information at a national level, but I hope that, as and when it comes, it will not come in the crude form we have known in the past and will take account of the important differences.
However, it is also linked to the publication of information about class sizes. Again, I read the Minister's reply and I do not want to steal what I suspect she will say. Publishing class size numbers is all right at a national level overall. It is probably all right at the LEA level, although with some small LEAs of which I have experience even that can be distorted. However, publishing it at individual school level can be misleading. Facts and information are useful. Misinformation and misinterpretation of facts are very dangerous. That would be my concern if the two are linked in this way.
We all want to know how well the reduction of class sizes works. We are all committed to driving up standards. I have no doubt about that. We may have 530 different ideas as to how it can best be done, but we all want to see it done. I would worry very much if this method were chosen. While I do not doubt for a moment the sincerity of the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, I suspect that there may be some of his colleagues who a year or two ago were not committed to smaller class sizes. They want to go down this route to prove that the Government's investment in smaller class sizes is wasteful. I do not believe that to be the case and primarily for that reason I cannot accept the amendment.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, I was interested in the final comment of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. This is not about scoring points or proving people wrong. The Government have linked class sizes with performance. That is the whole rationale for what the Government are doing because they believe that reducing class sizes to 30 will improve education.
There is a great debate going on about class sizes and I repeat something that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said, as regards a poor teacher with a small class and a good teacher with a large class. Very often the better deal for the child educationally will be with the good teacher, whatever the size of the class. I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said, a good teacher with a small class can achieve that much more. Nevertheless, there is poor scientific evidence on the point and a great deal of debate on what is important.
One of the factors to which I give great weight is the ability of head teachers to make a judgment about where, if they had more money, they would spend it in their schools. The chances are that in many primary schools the head teachers would spend it on keeping class sizes down. But there would be some occasions when they would spend the money in another way where it would be more beneficial educationally. One of the factors I support is giving that choice to head teachers. The rigidity of the Government's policy means that priorities of both the LEA and the schools will be pre-empted by the Government without any flexibility whatever.
I find it difficult to understand what the arguments can be against obtaining the very information that will inform people about the effect of class sizes in our schools. If one has such information, bringing together the size of the class and the achievement of the school, it will be possible to make real, scientific judgments as to the effect of the policy. I cannot believe that the Government are not interested in seeing and evaluating the effectiveness of their policy.
I want to leave one fact on the table as a contribution to this extremely confused debate as to whether it is a beneficial policy; that is, the statistics that went with the Inner London Education Authority. It spent the most on children in schools. It was the highest spender in the whole country. It had the most generous pupil:teacher ratios in primary and in secondary schools and yet produced the worst education in the country. That is irrefutable; it is part of the record.
531 There is a good deal of confusion around the issue and, over time, this amendment would provide this Government and other governments with information that is important in order to make a real evaluation as to the effect of the application of the policy on class sizes.
§ The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone)
My Lords, I shall have to try to be ingenious again. When we last had the opportunity to debate the issues raised by this amendment in Committee, it was clear that there was a fair amount of common ground between us in several key areas. I believe that there still is.
We all share agreement on the need to make information publicly available, which enables comparisons to be made of the performance of our schools so as to enable us to inform the debate on standards in schools and to raise those standards right across the board. That is something about which there is common agreement.
We can also agree that the way forward in improving the data provided in school performance tables, as the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said, is the introduction of measures of value-added by schools from one stage to another or possibly at the beginning of the stage through to the end of it. That is the only fair and just way of assessing the quality of what schools are providing in terms of the performance of pupils.
I believe also that we agree that the development of those value-added measures is complex and depends on suitable data on a pupil's prior attainment coming on stream. Research shows that prior attainment is the single most influential factor on performance in later years. I entirely accept what the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, said: that is, that we cannot use class size as a universal panacea. The Government are not doing that. There are many other factors which affect the quality of what is being provided. I agree strongly with what the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, said about the quality of teachers. That is of enormous importance and is perhaps the most important factor of all. However, he raised the question of where the teachers would come from. The one area where we can be confident is as regards infant school teachers. Applications for teaching at that level are buoyant and courses for infant school teaching are over-subscribed. I do not believe therefore that there will be a problem in the recruitment of additional teachers at that stage.
I know that we also agree on the importance of early years schooling on the future development, both educational and personal, of the individual pupil and on the importance of reducing class sizes in those early years. I should like to associate myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said in that regard. He is absolutely right. There is a great deal of evidence to support his position. However, the arguments against the amendment still stand.
At the risk of repeating points that I made in Committee, we already have statutory provisions in place in the 1996 Education Act governing the publication of performance tables. We are currently in 532 the middle of a programme of significant changes to the way in which information is presented in performance tables. They include, for example, helping parents to see at a glance how each school's performance improved over time; better reflecting the achievements of pupils across the full ability range rather than just looking at the achievements of the most able, and providing information for the first time on progress made in schools between Key Stage 3 in 1996 and GCSEs in 1998—an important step towards the development of full value-added measures. I do not believe therefore that anybody can claim that the Government are being idle in this area.
We have also delegated the responsibility for publishing Key Stage 2 results in primary performance tables to individual LEAs, enabling them to provide additional data on primary school performance and to set the results in a local context, which is also important. We have encouraged LEAs to publish Key Stage 1 results alongside the Key Stage 2 results where they can obtain the data without adding to the bureaucratic burdens on schools, of which we must also be aware and take seriously. It is a significant point. There is always the risk, in introducing changes on this scale, that we shall place unreasonable demands on schools in checking or providing the necessary data for publication. We want to reduce the existing burdens overall. It is essential that we plan these developments carefully, taking all these issues into account and, wherever possible, balance any increases in burdens in one area with reductions elsewhere. I am sure that all noble Lords will share that objective.
For those reasons I remain unpersuaded that the time is right to introduce a full set of national performance tables at Key Stage 1. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and her noble friend Lord Pilkington both said that we need more scientific evidence. As a social scientist, I do not dispute that. But it is important that the kind of evidence we collect is genuinely helpful rather than misleading. The noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, was offering more knowledge as a way to truth. I agree that that is a desirable objective. But to go back to my elementary statistics, statistical data must be both valid and reliable for it to be useful; otherwise it will lead to misinterpretation and a failure to understand exactly what the data is showing.
I do not in any way want to suggest that the Government do not agree with the publication of such performance tables. However, we must wait until we can base the related data requirements on the lessons learnt from the work that we are already doing on the later key stages. I explained to your Lordships during Committee that the collection of statistics on class sizes is not straightforward. It is based currently on a snapshot of the position in schools on a single day at the time of the annual schools' census. Nor do I believe that linking average class sizes with Key Stage 1 results in the way proposed will necessarily be helpful when assessing performance of schools at this stage or conversely, in assessing the effect on performance of reducing class sizes.
533 As the noble Lord knows, there is not one, but a number of factors at work. To link achievement to just one of those would be giving an incomplete picture. Therefore I accept that there is a need to do further work in this area. I accept that at some point we should be able to publish performance tables. I accept also that it is important to evaluate new policies of this kind; and that we shall do. But I do not believe that the amendment as drafted would be helpful to parents. Therefore, I hope the noble Lord will agree to withdraw it.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord Swinfen
My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, she very kindly gave me an answer to my question on infant schools, but what about the other schools in the education system? Where will the teachers be found to bring their class sizes down to at least 30?
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, the Government are committed to bringing infant school class sizes down to 30. That is what these clauses are about and that is what these amendments are about. If I may say so, the noble Lord's question is not really relevant to the amendments here, but of course the Government are concerned to improve the recruitment of teachers at all stages.
§ Lord Pilkington of Oxenford
My Lords, perhaps I may begin with my fellow teaching colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Dormand. I was not belittling the argument. Anyone who is a practising teacher knows that it is better to teach small classes than large classes, particularly if one is correcting work, even among junior or primary children.
I felt that the noble Baroness met me more than half way, but her ingenuity clouded the route. There seems to be agreement between us but I think that the debate revealed that there is controversy on this matter. The issue is about how one uses resources and whether in some cases to choose between a class of 32 and a better teacher or whether arbitrarily to say that 30 is the limit.
I understand why the Government have committed themselves to this, but it is because their commitment has been so precise—30 and no further and the headmaster or headmistress allowed no choice—that my question mark is raised. That is why I want to put facts on the face of the Bill. I appreciate what the noble Baroness said about value added and I share her views on that. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, said in Committee, this is an enormously complicated matter. There was enormous trouble in finding a system for value added. Therefore, I cannot see that any harm is done by producing facts. They will not be the elixir of truth but they will give some guidance. In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king; and the Government could open one eye to this.
I dispute whether it would lay such a burden on schools. All we are asking is that the class sizes should be put alongside Key Stage 1, which is very easy to do. The noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Tope, pointed out that as things exist at the moment it is 534 difficult. We on this side of the House are not making a violent ideological attack on this point. We are sharing some of the problems and we are saying that there are difficulties and there is agreed ground. But what we are asking is for facts on the face of the Bill, facts which will not lay such a burden on schools. As various surveys have shown, what really lays burdens on schools is the rocks they hit in the pass. Therefore, despite the noble Baroness's ingenuity, charm and her standing on her head, I am not happy. I should like to ask the opinion of the House on this matter.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 96; Not-Contents, 146.535
|Division No. 1|
|Aberdare, L.||Hayhoe, L.|
|Addison, V.||Henley, L.|
|Ailsa, M.||Hooper, B.|
|Aldington, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Ilchester, E.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Knight of Collingtree, B.|
|Bellwin, L.||Knollys, V.|
|Beloff, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Belstead, L.||Lindsay, E.|
|Biffen, L.||Long, V.|
|Blatch, B.||McConnell, L.|
|Boardman, L.||Masham of Ilton, B.|
|Braine of Wheatley, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Molyneaux of Killead, L.|
|Burnham, L. [Teller.]||Monro of Langholm, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Moore of Wolvercote, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mountevans, L.|
|Charteris of Amisfield, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Chelmsford, V.||Munster, E.|
|Chesham, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Clanwilliam, E.||Noel-Buxton, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Norrie, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Onslow, E.|
|Crickhowell, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Cross, V.||Oxfuird, V.|
|Cuckney, L.||Pearson of Rannoch, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Pender, L.|
|De Freyne, L.||Pilkington of Oxenford, L.|
|Dean of Harptree, L.||Rawlings, B.|
|Denbigh, E.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Denham, L.||Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.|
|Dixon-Smith, L.||Renton, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Rotherwick, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Rowallan, L.|
|Elton, L||Sandford, L.|
|Erne, E.||Seccombe, B. [Teller.]|
|Feldman, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Fookes, B.||Sudeley, L.|
|Gage, V.||Swansea, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Garel-Jones, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Glentoran, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Waddington, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Westbury, L.|
|Acton, L.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Addington, L.||Linklater of Butterstone, B.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Allenby of Megiddo, V.||Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.|
|Alport, L.||Longford, E.|
|Ampthill, L.||Ludford, B.|
|Annan, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]|
|Ashley of Stoke, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Barnett, L.||McNair, L.|
|Bassam of Brighton, L.||McNally, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Maddock, B.|
|Berkeley, L.||Mallalieu, B.|
|Blackburn, Bp.||Mar and Kellie, E.|
|Blackstone, B.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Blease, L.||Merlyn-Rees, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Methuen, L.|
|Burlison, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Callaghan of Cardiff, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Calverley, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Montague of Oxford, L.|
|Carrick, E.||Morris of Manchester, L.|
|Carter, L. [Teller.]||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Castle of Blackburn, B.||Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.|
|Chorley, L.||Northbourne, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Clinton-Davis, L.||Paul, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Peston, L.|
|Davies of Oldham, L.||Pitkeathley, B.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Dixon, L.||Ramsay of Cartvale, B.|
|Donoughue, L.||Randall of St. Budeaux, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Rea, L.|
|Dubs, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Eatwell, L.||Rendell of Babergh, B.|
|Evans of Parkside, L.||Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]|
|Exmouth, V.||Ripon, Bp.|
|Ezra, L.||Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.|
|Falconer of Thoroton, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Farrington of Ribbleton, B.||Sainsbury of Turville, L.|
|Fitt, L.||Sandberg, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Sandwich, E.|
|Geraint, L.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Gibson, L.||Serota, B.|
|Glenamara, L.||Sewel, L.|
|Gordon of Strathblane, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Gould of Potternewton, B.||Shepherd, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Shore of Stepney, L.|
|Gregson, L.||Simon, V.|
|Grenfell, L.||Simon of Highbury, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Smith of Gilmorehill, B.|
|Hardie, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Hardy of Wath, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Stone of Blackheath, L.|
|Haskel, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Hayman, B.||Symons of Vernham Dean, B.|
|Hilton of Eggardon, B.||Taverne, L.|
|Hollis of Heigham, B.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Holme of Cheltenham, L.||Thomas of Macclesfield, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Thomas of Walliswood, B.|
|Hoyle, L.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Tope, L.|
|Hughes of Woodside, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Hunt of Kings Heath, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]||Wallace of Saltaire, L.|
|Watson of Invergowrie, L.|
|Jay of Paddington, B.||Weatherill, L.|
|Jenkins of Hillhead, L.||Whitty, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Kennedy of The Shaws, B.||Williams of Crosby, B.|
|Kennet, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Williams of Mostyn, L.|
|Kintore, E.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ Clause 1 [Power to set limits on infant class sizes]:
§ Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 9, leave out subsections (1) to (3) and insert(".—
(".—(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations—
§ (2) Any limit imposed under this section shall specify the maximum number of pupils that a class to which the limit applies may contain while an ordinary teaching session is conducted by a single qualified teacher.
§ (2A) Subject to subsections (3) and (3A), regulations under this section shall be so framed that—
- (a) the maximum number specified in pursuance of subsection (2) is 30, and
- (b) that limit has effect in relation to the 2001/2002 school year and any subsequent year.
§ (3) Regulations under this section may—
- (a) provide for any limit imposed under this section to take effect—
- (i) at the same time in the case of each of the age groups into which the pupils in infant classes fall, or
- (ii) at different times (which may be earlier than the beginning of the school year mentioned in subsection (2A)) in the case of different such age groups;
- (b) provide that, in any circumstances specified in the regulations, any such limit either is not to apply or is to operate in such manner as is so specified.
§ (3A) The Secretary of State may by order amend subsection (2A)—
- (a) by substituting for "30" such other number as is specified in the order; or
- (b) by substituting for the reference to the 2001/2002 school year a reference to such other school year as is so specified.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 10, 17, 172 to 175, 201 and 234. As Members of your Lordships' House will recall during Committee, following our discussions on the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee, I undertook to return to the House with proposals on this matter. These government amendments will meet the committee's concerns and therefore I am very pleased to move them.
§ I said before and I say again, that we are keen to respond as positively as possible to the committee's recommendation, as we have done elsewhere in the Bill. Not only have we placed the maximum number of 30 on the face of the Bill, we have placed the deadline of 2001 on the face of the Bill, too. However, it would not be wise for the maximum number of 30 and the deadline of 2001 to be completely inflexible. The reason is simply that we may, at some future date, want to consider reducing infant class size limits even further to 28, 27 or, who knows, even to 25. In asking for these important powers to be placed on the face of the Bill, we do not believe that the committee intended to limit flexibility. Indeed, its report makes clear that it has 537 accepted the need for flexibility in implementing this policy. Its intention—which we fully accept—was to permit informed debate on the government's central objectives in imposing infant class size limits, but I do not believe that the committee intended that the limit of 30 should be set in stone. That is why subsection (3A) gives the Secretary of State power by order to amend the maximum number and the deadline.
§ There is no question of this Government using these flexibilities to renege on their pledge to the British people. We could not have been clearer. We shall ensure that by the beginning of the 2001 school year—earlier where circumstances will allow—no child of five, six or seven years of age will be in a class of over 30. The fact that we are introducing this legislation and the £62 million that we have already made available, shows that we are determined that this pledge will be met.
§ If at some future date we find ourselves in a position to build on this well-supported policy, by reducing the maximum number even more, these amendments enable us to do so without the need for primary legislation. We would have to change both the maximum number and the target date because any new number would apply from a date other than that shown on the face of the Bill.
§ I turn now to Amendments Nos. 172 to 175. These are of an entirely technical nature. The standard number is the minimum number of pupils that a school must admit if it is asked to do so in the normal admissions age group. But admission authorities are free to set admission limits above this if they choose to do so. They must then admit pupils to this level. They must not set an admission limit below the standard number.
§ It is essential that arrangements relating to admission numbers do not in any way restrict the effective implementation of class size policy. We are taking measures in Clause 92 and Schedule 23 to ensure that admission authorities do not set an admission limit above the standard number if that limit would conflict with infant class size limits. These measures require admission authorities to review the existing standard number and to apply for a reduction where it is set at a level which would be incompatible with meeting the class size limit.
§ Clause 92 also gives the Secretary of State the power to disapply the standard number for a transitional period while the review is being carried out and a reduction is applied for. These amendments simply allow for transitional arrangements so that the measures we have set out in Clause 92 and Schedule 23 can take effect when the class size regulations come into force. They make no change to the provisions that we are putting in place to help admission authorities plan admission numbers in the light of the class size limit, as soon as possible.
§ Similarly, Amendments Nos. 173 and 174 are of a technical nature and reflect the introduction to the Bill of the new Clause 1(2A) which allows for only one class size limit. There is no change to the nature of the provisions contained in Schedule 23.
§ Amendment No. 234 provides for transitional provisions which are necessary following Royal Assent. The provisions on class sizes will come into force 538 immediately. However, we intend the new admission framework to come into force on 1st April 1999. This amendment gives specific power to adapt the existing admission legislation in the Education Act 1996 so it is consistent with the class size provisions before the new admissions framework is brought into force. This is necessary to ensure that admission authorities can plan admissions so that they will be able to comply with the class size provisions. If admission authorities are to comply with the class size provisions by 2001, they need to have suitable admission arrangements, including planning numbers, in place for the beginning of the admissions round for entry in September 1999.
§ The amendment will allow them to plan for new infant class size limits to be an integral part of the admission arrangements over the three years of entry beginning in September 1999. Those children admitted in September 1999 would be subject to infant class limits in 2001.
§ Subparagraph (1)(b) will enable the existing legislation relating to appeals to be modified before the new admission framework is in force so that it contains provisions to constrain appeals panels from making decisions to admit children which would breach the class size legislation.
§ Subparagraph (1)(c) would allow transitional provisions specifically to cover the occasions where the published admission arrangements were not compatible or consistent with any modified arrangements that were necessary. Admission authorities would have to redetermine and republish their arrangements.
§ The Government have responded positively to the recommendations of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation. The Government are committed to limiting the size of infant classes and to doing so as quickly as practicable. I urge the House to support the amendments. I beg to move.
§ The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham)
My Lords, I must point out to your Lordships that if Amendment No. 2 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 3 to 5 inclusive.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, I am sure that the House is grateful to the Minister for tabling these amendments. It is good to see the Government's broad intentions on the face of the Bill. However, I should like to ask one question about what I think may be an omission from Amendment No. 2. In Committee, the Minister told us that despite the expenditure that would be involved the Government were determined to keep class sizes to the number prescribed and that if necessary extra teachers would be recruited and new building work carried out. The Minister said that quite clearly. We hear that a good deal of money is to be moved into schools from other areas of expenditure on our national life, presumably partly to meet this extra expenditure.
I have read in the education press that one of the ways in which the Government's aim is to be met is by creating classes containing children at different stages, with two or even three-stage classes. Can the Minister 539 confirm that that is a possibility? If it is, can the noble Baroness tell me whether the Government think that 30 children is the right maximum for a mixed stage class? In Scotland, the contractual limit on the maximum size of a class containing children who are all at one stage is 33, but when the class contains children at two different stages, the maximum size allowed is 25. Those limits apply at every level of schooling, right through a child's school life.
It seems to me that it must be very difficult for a teacher to teach children at two or three different stages. It is probably not impossible with a smaller number of children, but if a class contained 30 children at three different stages, the teacher would have to be pretty good to be able to cope. I wonder whether the Minister has allowed for that. My reading of the text of Amendment No. 2 does not reveal that that is allowed for in future regulations. I hope that the Minister will be able to reply to this important point.
§ Lord Northbourne
My Lords, I too welcome Amendment No. 2 and the fact that the Government have been able to go into rather more detail about their proposals. However, at the next stage will the Minister consider going just a mile further because class sizes seem an awfully blunt instrument in terms of very young children. Normally in classes containing four and five year-olds there will be at least one assistant and perhaps two. The quality of that assistant is important, as is the experience of the teacher who should have special training for dealing with very young children. Some people take the view that there should be at least one trained nursery nurse as an assistant in a class containing four year-olds. A class of 30 which is taught by a 35 year-old—by one young, inexperienced teacher alone—is very different from a class of 30 which is taught by an experienced nursery teacher or infant teacher helped by one or two assistants, perhaps one of whom is a nursery nurse.
I wonder whether there could be rather more precision in these provisions. I should like to take this opportunity to support what was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, because there is, indeed, a very great difference if one is teaching children of different ages and at different stages of their development.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister can give us some figures. I know that the department has now carried out a great deal of work into ascertaining how many children are in this age group, where they are, and the size of their classes. I know that there has been a recent publication on this although I have not had all the details. At the last date for which information was available, how many classes at Key Stage I contain children of mixed age groups? My noble friend Lady Carnegy made an important point. The school in my village contains only three classes. The first contains five, six and seven year-olds; the second class contains seven, eight and nine year-olds; and the third class contains nine, 10 and 11 year-olds. That situation is very common in the rural areas of this country.
540 As the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, said, there is a world of difference between a teacher having to teach a class of 30 children of three different age groups and a teacher who teaches a class containing only five year-olds, or only six year-olds or only seven year-olds. The burden on the former teacher is so much greater. If the policy were applied inflexibly, the teacher with the mixed age group would be subject to the same limit on class size as the teacher with a class of only one age group. There is a great width of ability in the four, five and six year-old age group; in the five, six and seven year-old age group and in the seven, eight and nine year-old age group. The range of ability in such mixed classes is vast. However, it does not appear that any provision has been made to recognise that difference when applying the policy.
§ Baroness Maddock
My Lords, we are aware that in these amendments the Government have dealt with many of the issues that were raised in Committee. Effectively, they have rewritten the provisions dealing with class sizes in infant schools. I know that in Committee the Government were sympathetic to many of our amendments. At a recent conference of local education authorities concern was expressed about implementing the Government's policy. Many practical problems have emerged for both LEAs and individual schools around the country as they have tried to cope with what they thought was the Government's policy.
We recognise that the amendments give the Government much more flexibility in applying their infant class size policy. The amendments will give schools time to introduce the policy and may create less competition in terms of other policies, such as admissions policies, and with regard to the effect on classes for older children in schools that comprise both infants and juniors.
However, we feel that the Government have got themselves into a bit of an unnecessary mess by pushing their policy a little too soon and even before it has passed through the legislative process. We accept—we have accepted for some time—that the costs will be higher. Indeed, over a period of time we have been giving detailed costings of how we suggest that our proposals should be enacted. Our proposals would go even further than the Government's and would ensure that all primary school classes are limited in size to 30 children.
However, the difficulty remains that resources will be needed. We are not absolutely convinced that the Government have squared the circle. The nature of the Government's amendments makes life slightly difficult as regards our later amendments in relation to class sizes. The original provisions were intended to ensure that the size of classes in all primary schools was 30, in part because of the knock-on effects flowing from the Government's proposals. If we are to achieve that we believe that it should be done properly. The Government have a partial policy; and the amendments that they have tabled today demonstrate that that policy has a knock-on effect. The Government have responded to that today. 541 It is likely that the policy on infant class sizes will not work its way through the schools in precisely the way intended by the Government. There have been discussions in another place and announcements have been made by the Government about how many new teachers will be needed, how much money the Government will give for that, and how much money will be made available in the immediate future. Originally a statement was made by a Minister in another place that 5,000 extra teachers would be required by the year 2001. My honourable friend in another place, Mr. Don Foster, has done some arithmetic. Being generous to the Government, it is difficult to understand how another 8,000 additional teachers will not be required. The noble Baroness the Minister has informed the House today that recruitment of infant school teachers is buoyant. We are pleased to hear that. However, we still believe that it will be difficult to find the extra teachers who will be needed.
In a press release on 22nd May, the Government said that the sum of £22 million was being allocated from the standards fund to recruit 1,500 new teachers to ensure that just over 100,000 infant pupils are kept out of large classes from September. However, if one works out the cost per teacher the figure is about £18,000. That means a shortfall of approximately 250 teachers, unless the figures are wrong. When one looks more closely at the figures in the Government's statement one is concerned that there will be problems despite the fact that they have given themselves flexibility on the issue.
We support small class sizes. As a teacher I have supported that concept on the Floor of the House many times. The question is always raised whether there is scientific evidence that small classes are beneficial to children. As a teacher I know that with small classes I was able to get more out of those children than with larger classes. I refer in particular to the average child who is able to achieve a great deal more. If I had been an even better teacher perhaps I could have gained the very best out of every child. I suggest that few people can do that. There is no doubt that for the average teacher to be able to carry out his or her job, and to feel satisfied about the achievement of the child at the end of that teaching, it is better for all concerned if there are smaller classes. I do not believe that scientific evidence is required to demonstrate that.
It is possible that we shall not be able to move the next sets of amendments. I hope that I have indicated why we wish to move those amendments. In part we are concerned about the levels of funding and the recruitment of teachers. The Government recognise some of the points that we make. They believe that they are answering some of the questions that we raise. However, in the end more resources are required. During the general election we were clear as to where those greater resources would come from. I shall not bore noble Lords this afternoon with the figures. We worked out a five-year plan based on a penny on income tax and how much we would put towards it. In year five there would be a figure of £475 million which would ensure classes of 30 in all primary classes. Some of our later amendments seek to define primary school classes. That is also important.
542 We welcome the Government's recognition of the issues that have been raised by ourselves and others outside this House. However, we do not believe that what they have done goes far enough. We regret that we shall not be able to talk about that at greater length.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, I begin by dealing with the question of mixed age teaching raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, which was also touched upon by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. That matter was also commented upon by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. Twenty seven per cent. of pupils in primary classes in January 1998 were taught by one teacher in mixed age classes. At Key Stage 1 21 per cent. of pupils were in mixed year group classes; and at Key Stage 2 28 per cent. were in mixed year group classes. There are already substantial numbers of pupils in these classes. I understand that the average size of mixed age primary classes taught by one teacher in primary schools is 27.4. Therefore, that is lower than the equivalent figure for all single year group classes except reception class. But I accept as a matter of common sense that if a teacher is asked to teach across age groups it may be more demanding. I also accept the point about the value of teaching assistants in classes of this kind.
We want to ensure that local education authorities come to sensible decisions. It is a matter for local decision-making. It is obvious from the figures that LEAs already take this into account, and I see no reason why they should not continue to do so. We do not expect an enormous increase in the number of Key Stage I infant school classes that are taught in mixed age groups as a result of the change that we make to the class size limit. I turn to the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock. The reason for that is that we shall provide the resources. We have not had to put a penny on income tax to find the resources for this initiative. Those resources are being found without increasing income tax.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, for her comments about the importance of small classes for young children. If there are smaller infant classes they will work their way through primary schools. As a result we expect to see rather smaller classes at Key Stage 2 as those smaller infant school classes work their way through. I believe that I have answered the questions that have been put. On that basis I hope that the House will accept this amendment.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, before the Minister sits down and with the leave of the House, is the Minister saying that, whereas it is a good idea to express in law the maximum class size for Key Stage 1 children, she does not think it necessary to stipulate a lower age for such classes when they contain two stages or more?
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, yes, the Government believe that that is a matter for LEAs. There should be some flexibility here. It is clearly 543 common sense that where teachers are having to teach across more than one age group that should be taken into account.
§ Lord Northbourne
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I do not want to be a bore, but she did not deal with the qualification and numbers of teachers in classes of 30.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, I am not sure whether the noble Lord was here for the previous group of amendments when I talked about the importance of the quality of teachers. I have just said that it is important that with young children there should be adequate additional adult help in the classroom of the type that I know that the noble Lord has espoused for a long time. I accept that. I hope that that answers his question.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ The Deputy Speaker (Lord Ampthill)
My Lords, Amendment No. 2 having been agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 3 to 6.
§ Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 2, line 4, at end insert—
("( ) No limit under this section shall be effective to prevent the admission of a child to a denominational school where—
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 8 and 9. Many parents throughout the land who choose denominational schools are worried. It is important to clarify what we believe to be the Government's intention. Where the parent has expressed a desire for his or her child to attend a denominational school, and where the admissions authority—in other words, the school itself, because under the new arrangements the school itself will be an admissions authority—has expressed a willingness to accept the child, notwithstanding the provisions of this clause, and where there is no alternative place available within a reasonable distance in another school of the same denomination, the school should be free to accept the child.
§ Amendment No. 8 goes a little further in saying that where it is considered that disapplication is in the interests of parental choice—in other words, of the child being accepted—disapplication can be supported only if it is decided in a ballot by a majority of parents for the time being at that school.
§ Amendment No. 9 provides again that the provisions can be disapplied where a brother or sister is seeking a place at the school. These are all practical manifestations of the policy. We know that there is concern, especially among the local authorities. Parents are just beginning now to get in touch with us about 544 their concerns as to how this will work in practice. We know that some parts of the Church, for example, are concerned about how it will work in practice.
§ We are trying to exercise some foresight by saying to the Government that with these provisions, where everyone concerned is agreed, and where parental preference can be satisfied, especially when one is talking about an extra one, two or three children, it is important that the parents' wishes are acceded to.
§ There is real concern now that parental preference will have to be compromised. The Government's statements are unequivocal: parental preference will not be compromised. If that is the case, the amendments should go a long way towards reassuring parents that they will get the school that they wish for their child, particularly where the choice is a denominational one. I beg to move.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of Ripon
My Lords, it is with some hesitation that I speak in opposition to the amendment. I am aware of the concern that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington of Oxenford, have for denominational schools. I have no doubt of the integrity of their motives in moving the amendment. The noble Baroness referred to some parts of the Church. I was not clear to which parts of the Church she was referring. Those parts of the Church with which I am in touch do not support the amendment.
On previous occasions, I have said that we are anxious not to drive a wedge between denominational and county schools. It would be unfortunate were such a wedge to be driven, especially if it were to happen in relation to class sizes. It would be an odd situation if class sizes were limited to 30 in all schools except denominational schools. We do not wish church schools to be excluded from this provision.
I recognise that Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 provide other circumstances in which classes might conceivably be larger, but in terms of the overall category of schools, church schools wish to be in the same position as all other schools.
I did say that I was not sure with which parts of the Church the noble Baroness had been in touch. I remember exchanges on this issue we have had previously in your Lordships' House during the Bill's passage. In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, claimed to speak on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church. There was an exchange on another issue when I was speaking on behalf of the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Churches. I need to make it clear that the Roman Catholic, Anglican and free Churches work closely together on these matters. The staff of the board of education which I chair, the Catholic Education Service, and the education secretary of the Free Church Council meet to discuss issues. We met to discuss this issue. When we visit Ministers, as we do frequently, we do so not as separate denominations, but as the Churches together. It is out of that shared experience that I speak on behalf of the Church of which I am a member and the Catholic Education Service.
545 Others in your Lordships' House might want to make other representations on behalf of other Churches. The Catholic Education Service and the board which I chair are not prepared to support the amendment. We do so in the understanding, and against, I believe, an undertaking, that the proportion of denominational places will be maintained: the reduction of class sizes is not to be used as an instrument for reducing the number of places in denominational schools.
It is against that background that we welcome the additional finance that has been made available, not least for church schools. We look forward to the announcement of which church schools will benefit from the finance that has been made available. Against that background. I oppose the amendment.
§ Lord Dormand of Easington
My Lords, perhaps I may repeat for the sake of emphasis an important point made by the right reverend Prelate. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, is aware that where a differential is made—the right reverend Prelate described it as a wedge between the two types of schools—there can be considerable agitation. If parents are refused a place for their child at a particular school while the church school—if I may so describe it—which is often just half a mile along the road, admits a child, that causes a great deal of anguish. People see differential treatment being given to their children. I hope that the noble Baroness will agree that that causes many parents a great deal of concern.
Secondly, if we feel that 30 is the correct limit for good educational purposes and reasons, that should apply to denominational schools as it does to any other school.
§ Lord Northbourne
My Lords, I am minded to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Dormand of Easington, and the right reverend Prelate. I accept that it must be right that church schools should not wish to crowd in children to the disadvantage of those children. The Church of England has a different point of view from the Jewish religion and the Roman Catholic Church. As I understand it, the Church of England takes the view that Church of England schools are for all children, and its objective is to provide the best possible education with a Christian background.
The concern, particularly of the Catholic and Jewish communities, is to ensure that children of parents who adhere to those faiths have the opportunity of an education set in the context of that faith. It is important to stress that that is the objective of this amendment. I do not think it is a terribly good amendment, but I would be very much encouraged if the noble Baroness were able to say in replying that very careful consideration will be given to ensuring that, as far as is humanly possible, children from particularly the Roman Catholic and the Jewish denominations will have the opportunity of receiving an education in the context of their parents' faith.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, I do not know about Church of England schools in particular because I have not lived in England. It sounds as if the 546 Church of England, and perhaps other Churches that are agreeing with them, are falling into a trap when they are embarrassed by what they see as a conflict between fairness for children and what works for them in education.
There is no question but that Church schools work best of all for the children whose parents' motivation for them being there is that they want that particular ethos for their children. If those children are kept out of a school because of parents who choose on the basis of the nearness of the school, that is very sad. I am sorry to hear the Church say that, because it is probably a mistaken perception. I see their embarrassment; I think I understand it, but I believe it is a mistake and I wish that they were not opposing this concept. even if the amendment itself is not what they particularly fancy.
§ The Lord Bishop of Ripon
My Lords, may I give a word of explanation in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy? I did make it clear that I was speaking against a background in which the total proportion of denominational places was to be maintained. It seems to me that there is no question therefore of those from a particular faith finding any difficulty created for them. I would entirely agree with the noble Lord. Lord Northbourne, that children must be educated in the faith of their parents, where that is desired. Nor would I see that the Churches are embarrassed by this. The Churches are fighting for their fair proportion, which has always been the case for denominational places, and I do not think the move to reduce class sizes to 30 affects that.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, these amendments cover the issue of whether there is a need to apply the class size limits in certain situations, and I will respond to all of them together. I recognise the particular concerns to ensure that school places are available in specific cases, but I believe that the arguments against these amendments, raised when we last had the opportunity to discuss them, still stand.
If I could begin with Amendment No. 7, which is the one that has led to the most discussion, it is natural that parents of a particular denomination will want to get a place in a school of the same denomination. I certainly do not disagree with that. Indeed, though it is not possible in all cases at present, we want as many parents as possible, from all schools and not just denominational schools, to obtain the school of their first choice or one that they feel would be most appropriate for their child. However, we also want all small children to share in the benefit of being in small classes, including those in denominational schools.
The effect of this amendment would be to allow denominational schools to exceed the class limit so as to admit a child where a place in another school of that denomination was not available within a reasonable distance. The right reverend Prelate has clearly stated his position. This is not what the Churches want and nor do we. In their responses to our consultation on the draft regulations and guidance there has been a broad welcome from Church bodies to what we are proposing to do. Our approach does not guarantee a place in a school of a given denomination for every child whose 547 parents may seek such a place; but there are no such guarantees under the existing arrangements, which were established by the previous government. One cannot easily envisage any arrangements that could offer a totally cast-iron guarantee. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, that we shall, of course, do our best to ensure—as I am sure the Churches will also ensure, in partnership with the Government—that we meet parents' wishes in this respect.
Consultation is at the heart of our policy to reduce infant class sizes. We intend that regulations under Clause 2(3) of the Bill will require LEAs to consult before submitting their class size implementation plan, including with representatives of denominational schools. We made it clear that we want to safeguard the proportion of denominational provision in an authority, as the right reverend Prelate has already said.
In the guidance which will be given under Clause 2(2), to which LEAs must have regard, we will be stating that they should consider the demand for denominational provision when preparing their class size plans. There should be no question either of schools being forced to expand against their will. LEAs will have to prepare plans that have due regard to parental preference. Our consultation document also states that the Secretary of State will not approve plans which do not demonstrate that the LEA has given due regard to the exercise of parental preference; but there does have to be planning and that is how we intend to ensure that parents' wishes are taken into account.
Amendment No. 8 would seriously weaken our policy of reducing infant class sizes in all schools. It would enable any school to opt out of the class size limit if the majority of existing parents supported it through a ballot. In practical terms the amendment is unclear on a whole range of issues. For example, it does not specify the circumstances in which ballots could be called. It also only covers parents of existing pupils at the school. One must ask about the views of parents of pupils who are about to join the school. Would there need to be a ballot to opt back into the limits? Would schools have to ballot every year, so that at any one time the views of all the parents are covered? Who would pay for these annual ballots? There are a great many unanswered questions here. These practical difficulties are not central to the Government's objection, however. As I have said many times, the class size pledge is fundamental to our proposals to raise standards. It has the overwhelming support of parents, who for many years have wanted to see smaller classes for their small children. The Government made it a manifesto commitment and we intend to honour it. I therefore cannot support any amendment which would see these limits being set aside on a school-by-school basis.
I also continue to believe that Amendment No. 9 is unnecessary as a means of ensuring that children may attend the same school as their siblings. This is best done through the admissions arrangements that individual schools make. While not every child with an elder sibling in the school can be given a cast-iron guarantee of a place in that school, nearly all schools already include a factor in their over-subscription 548 criteria which gives priority to pupils who have siblings at the school. By giving priority to children with brothers and sisters in the school, as this amendment proposes, it would also allow any admissions authority to breach the class size limit by excluding siblings from the normal admissions criteria and admitting them after the admissions round. Giving priority to siblings has long been part of LEA and school arrangements, and I am sure that that will continue. We therefore see no need for this amendment and I hope that, in the light of what I have said, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw it.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, I am equally disappointed in the Minister's response. From the beginning of the school year in 2001 there will be no flexibility whatever. If parents who have been accustomed to sending their children to the local denominational school request another place making the class size 31 just one extra child over 30—the answer will be no, because one cannot overnight produce the classroom or the teacher in order to take that child at the beginning of the September term. LEAs do a great deal of planning, but they do not plan down to the exact number of children. Most LEAs act retrospectively and the Government will find that they, too, must do so. They make as intelligent a guess as possible about the intake of each school. So, too, do the head teachers of each school. However, at the end of the day the accuracy of that figure is judged retrospectively; it could be more or it could be less. Those of us who live in villages know that when a family moves in four children can be added to the school and that when a family moves out the school can lose four children. The position is as sensitive as that. My amendments are tabled against a background of no flexibility whatever.
I have no problem with the Minister's arguments about what parents want generally. They would like to see smaller classes, particularly in infant schools. The issue between us is one of flexibility. The issue between the Local Government Association and the Government is the flexibility they will need in order to deliver the policy.
The right reverend Prelate asked me to which parts of the Church I was referring. Individual clergy within the Church of England have approached me. On every occasion I have invited them to get in touch with the right reverend Prelate because I believe that that is correct. They are most concerned about particular schools in their localities. I hope that some of them have been in touch with the right reverend Prelate and have had their fears allayed. Nevertheless, those fears exist.
The noble Lord, Lord Dormand, reinforced the point made by the right reverend Prelate that we should not make a special case for the Church. In fact, we do make a special case for the Church; there is special provision for the Church of England. Throughout the progress of the Bill the right reverend Prelate and his colleagues have visited the DfEE and have asked for and received favours. We are delighted that that has been the case. Many fears have been allayed as a result of denominational schools asking the DfEE for recognition 549 of particular difficulties. I have absolutely no difficulty with that. Indeed, when I was a Minister, I, too, received special delegations from the Church asking for its particular denominational concerns and those of parents to be recognised. That is not an issue between us.
As regards the particular point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dormand, the truth is that there are many choices for secular schoolchildren. In my local town of Huntingdon, a child looking for a place in another secular school can walk to half a dozen or more schools. However, the choice of denominational schools is a very different matter. Children cannot go to the next school or the one beyond that.
The right reverend Prelate referred to the story that was leaked to the press on Monday about the funding for 100 Church schools. We all look forward to learning which schools those are. But the perspective needs to be understood. There are 3,557 Church schools with infant classes. I understand that 46 per cent. of those schools have classes over 30. Forty per cent. of 3,557 is about 1,600 schools and we are talking about funding for possibly 100 of them. There are only two years to go before the policy must be put into operation when we must cope with all such classes. We must provide all the extra classrooms and all the extra teachers with all the planning that that will entail. Church schools are popular schools. One of the reasons why they have more than 30 children in classes for five, six and seven year-olds is precisely that they are so popular with local parents.
The Minister rightly said that the Government could not guarantee a place for every child at a denominational school. I do not believe that any previous government have done so and I do not believe that any future government can do so. However, the inflexibility of the policy will mean that fewer children will be guaranteed a place.
Perhaps I may give as an example a school with an intake of 62 children a year. The extra two children will not receive a place at the school unless the Government are prepared to change it from two classes of 31 to three classes of 20. Are the Government saying that they will do that overnight at a stroke? Will they find a brick-built classroom—we know from the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, that there will be no temporary classrooms—in order to create three classes of 20 to accommodate 62 children? In the following year the intake might be only 58. That is what happens in rural schools. The inflexibility of the policy is incredible.
I am depressed almost beyond words to know that the right reverend Prelate does not support the amendments. Parents will find that under the new system their child cannot have the 31st or 32nd place whereas under the present system that child can be accommodated. I am going to stand up and be counted and I hope that my colleagues will, too. We will fight for the right of flexibility that is agreed by the parents, the school and the community. I seek the opinion of the House.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 7) shall be agreed to?550
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 74; Not-Contents, 131.551
|Division No. 2|
|Abercorn, D.||Knollys, V.|
|Ailsa, M.||Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.|
|Alton of Liverpool, L.||Mackay of Drumadoon, L.|
|Arran, E.||Mayhew of Twysden, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Molyneaux of Killead, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Monro of Langholm, L.|
|Berners, B.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Biddulph, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Biffen, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Moyne, L.|
|Braine of Wheatley, L.||Munster, E.|
|Brentford, V.||Naseby, L.|
|Burnham, L. [Teller.]||Northesk, E.|
|Butterworth, L.||Norton, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||O'Cathain, B.|
|Carnock, L.||Onslow of Woking, L.|
|Charteris of Amisfield, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Pender, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Pilkington of Oxenford, L.|
|Cope of Berkeley, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Rathcavan, L.|
|Cuckney, L.||Rawlings, B.|
|Davidson, V.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Denham, L.||Rees, L.|
|Dunleath, L.||Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Rotherwick, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Seccombe, B. [Teller.]|
|Erne, E.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Sudeley, L.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Hayhoe, L.||Teviot, L.|
|HolmPatrick, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Jopling, L.||Waddington, L.|
|Kinnoull, E.||Wade of Chorlton, L.|
|Acton, L.||Dubs, L.|
|Addington, L.||Eatwell, L.|
|Alport, L.||Erroll, E.|
|Ampthill, L.||Evans of Parkside, L.|
|Ashley of Stoke, L.||Falconer of Thoroton, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Farrington of Ribbleton, B.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Fitt, L.|
|Berkeley, L.||Gallacher, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Glenamara, L.|
|Blease, L.||Goodhart, L.|
|Bledisloe, V.||Gould of Potternewton, B.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Graham of Edmonton, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Gregson, L.|
|Burlison, L.||Grenfell, L.|
|Calverley, L.||Grey, E.|
|Carlisle, E.||Halsbury, E.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Carter, L. [Teller.]||Hardie, L.|
|Castle of Blackburn, B.||Hardy of Wath, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.|
|Clinton-Davis, L.||Haskel, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Hayman, B.|
|Davies of Oldham, L.||Hilton of Eggardon, B.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Hollis of Heigham, B.|
|Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.||Holme of Cheltenham, L.|
|Dixon, L.||Hoyle, L.|
|Donoughue, L.||Hughes, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Hughes of Woodside, L.|
|Hunt of Kings Heath, L.||Porter of Luddenham, L.|
|Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Ramsay of Cartvale, B.|
|Islwyn, L.||Randall of St. Budeaux, L.|
|Jay of Paddington, B.||Razzall, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Rea, L.|
|Jenkins of Hillhead, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Rendell of Babergh, B.|
|Kennedy of The Shaws, B.||Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]|
|Kennet, L.||Ripon, Bp.|
|Kintore, E.||Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.|
|Kirkhill, L.||Sainsbury of Turville, L.|
|Linklater of Butterstone, B.||Sandberg, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.||Serota, B.|
|Ludford, B.||Sewel, L.|
|McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]||Shepherd, L.|
|Shore of Stepney, L.|
|Mackie of Benshie, L.||Simon, V.|
|Maddock, B.||Simon of Highbury, L.|
|Mallalieu, B.||Slim, V.|
|Mason of Barnsley, L.||Smith of Gilmorehill, B.|
|Merlyn-Rees, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Meston, L.||Stone of Blackheath, L.|
|Methuen, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Milner of Leeds, L.||Symons of Vernham Dean, B.|
|Mishcon, L.||Taverne, L.|
|Monkswell, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Montague of Oxford, L.||Thomas of Macclesfield, L.|
|Morris of Manchester, L.||Thomas of Walliswood, B.|
|Murray of Epping Forest, L.||Tope, L.|
|Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.||Tordoff, L.|
|Ogmore, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Paul, L.||Walker of Doncaster, L.|
|Peston, L.||Watson of Invergowrie, L.|
|Pitkeathley, B.||Whitty, L.|
|Plant of Highfield, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Williams of Mostyn, L.|
|Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ [Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.]
§ Clause 2 [Plans by LEAs for reducing infant class sizes]:
§ Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 10:
§ Page 2, line 7, leave out ("the limits imposed under section 1 are") and insert ("any limit imposed under section 1 is").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 11 not moved.]
§ Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 2, line 46, at end insert—
("( ) The Secretary of State shall not approve any statement prepared by a local education authority under this section which envisages an increase in the average size of classes in junior schools or secondary schools in that authority's area over the level prevailing in the same area in 1997.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in speaking to this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15. These amendments cover the issues of growth in junior schools; the costs incurred by the application of the pledge; distances travelled by children to school; and accommodation.552
As regards junior schools, the Minister in another place, Estelle Morris, went to Derbyshire last week and met a large number of teachers. She was challenged a number of times about the subject of overcrowding in junior schools, which is a logical correlation with the proposals we have before us. The Minister replied:
Our current priority is to fund Key Stage 1 and we do not have any plans to deal with Key Stage 2 at the moment".
I suggest to the Minister that the application of that class-size pledge leaves the Government with two choices: they either fly in the face of the proposition in the guidance—that it shall not result in increased class sizes at junior school stage—or the pledge must be continued throughout the school.
§ I give an extremely simple example. The intake of a school has 75 children. That is too many for two classes, so there would have to be three classes. The three classes would be in year one and sustained in years two and three. But at year four, either there are two classes of 34 or 35—and one can take any number of children over the magical number of 60 which is appropriate for two classes under the new proposals—or there continues to be three classes in years five to seven. Those are the two choices. They are stark but they are real. If those classes are to be sustained throughout the school, there is not a need only for one teacher in year one but there is a need for seven teachers in seven year groups. It is not merely one classroom that is needed for the extra class at year one, but an extra classroom is needed when that class becomes class two and so on. It is all very well for the Minister to say that she has no plans to address Key Stage 2, but I suggest there is no choice if the pledge is to be delivered.
§ In response to the previous set of amendments, the Minister said that as the classes work through, classes in the junior school will also become smaller. That is an absolutely logical progression from smaller classes in infant schools. As the classes become smaller in junior schools, there will be a need for more teachers, classrooms and so on. Therefore, it is not possible simply to say that there will be no knock-on effect.
§ Because we believe that that is a very real danger caused by the rigid application of that policy, we believe that it should help the Government, and certainly help them in their arguments with the Treasury to have this provision on the face of the Bill. After all, the Government have promised that under this clause, which envisages an increase in the average size of classes in junior and secondary schools, the Secretary of State said that he will not approve any statement from a local education authority that involves increasing class sizes at other key stages. It is such an important issue because, as was shown at the meeting with the Minister last week, teachers fear that it can only be achieved at the expense of junior school classes, unless a great deal more money is provided beyond Key Stage 1.
§ In Derbyshire last week, when speaking with the people from local government, the Minister of State, Mr. Byers, said that he could absolutely assert that there will be no reduction in parental preference. The conference went on to pass a motion to the effect that reduction in class sizes would constrain parental preference. The chairman of the Labour controlled 553 borough of Lewisham, Mr. Gavin Moore, said that people should not make pledges that they are not in a position to carry out. The Government have made two pledges on class sizes and parental choice, but they are in danger of failing to deliver on both of them.
§ The concern is not just with teachers in schools; the concern is with the very people who will be charged with implementing the policy. The problems that they foresee are those which will arise because of the extra costs involved in coping in three years' time with the extra provision in junior school classes. The charge that they will have put upon them to enhance parental preference—indeed, not even to sustain it—is very important. The leader of Lewisham Council went on to say that the election pledge made by Labour last year to reduce primary class sizes to under 30 pupils will be impossible to achieve if parents have the right to decide which school their child attends. There are huge tensions, which must be addressed.
When responding to a similar amendment during the last stage of the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, gave us an assurance—indeed, a reassurance because some of us rather gulped at what he said about the permanent classrooms pledge. However, he made it absolutely clear at that stage, and said:
I have just said that our letter to local education authorities wishing to apply for the class size capital funds makes it clear that their plans will have to be for permanent classrooms, not mobile classrooms. As I have already quoted, the guidance we sent out states that.
'Applications relating simply to the provision of mobile classrooms will not be accepted'".
That was queried by my noble friend Lady Byford and, in response, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said:
I must be precise about this. We are saying that applications for funding for the purpose of reducing infant class sizes which rely on the use of mobile classrooms will not he accepted".—[Official Report. 5/5/98: col. 582.]
When speaking to previous amendments I said—and I repeat it now—that very often there is a bulge in the number of children coming through a school which then moves away in the course of time. Very often, where there are new developments of housing, large numbers of primary school places are required in the early stages, but the situation always settles down again later. The use of mobile classrooms, which have improved immeasurably over the years, has been the local education authorities' way of being flexible; in other words, they can take a mobile classroom, satisfy the school's needs for two or three years and then move the classroom to where it is needed.
§ The situation where every child in a class where the number has exceeded 30 whose placement might involve him travelling a longer distance to school, and mean putting him into a school where the performance is poorer than the school which he would have attended, could in fact inhibit all the promises that the Government have made. In that case, as Ministers said, a classroom and a teacher would be provided for any single child in a class where the number of pupils has reached over 30. If the Government are really saying that they can deliver that in every instance beyond the school year of 2001, then LEAs will need a good deal 554 more assurance. The amendments are designed to take the Minister's own words in the guidance and put them on the face of the Bill, so that there could be no doubt in that respect: LEAs are bound by law to ensure that classes do not have over 30 pupils in those age groups, just as schools will not be allowed to have classes with over 30 pupils come the year 2001. Indeed, the Government require that parental preference must be enhanced; buildings must be permanent; distances travelled must be reasonable; and denominational choice must be adhered to as far as is possible.
§ In order to deliver that, it is right that the Government should have an obligation placed upon them to ensure that the money is made available in all those circumstances so that LEAs can be assured that, in order to avoid some of the side effects of implementing this policy, they will not be found wanting but will have the wherewithal to put it into effect. I beg to move.
§ Lord Whitty
My Lords, Amendments Nos. 12, 14 and 15 deal with the question of the Secretary of State's approval of LEA statements. As the noble Baroness implied, many of these points were made in Committee. Given the strength of the commitments that we made at that time, I am slightly surprised that they have been tabled again.
Amendment No. 12 deals with the effect on the size of classes at a later stage. Perhaps I may reiterate a point that we have already made strongly. There is no intention to fund reductions in infant class sizes by allowing class sizes to rise in later key stages. The noble Baroness also asked about resources. This year, we have already made available a total of £62 million of additional funding specifically designed to reduce the size of infant classes. More money will be made available in the future. In addition, the £835 million extra that we are providing for schools in England will keep down class sizes in all key stages.
Therefore, there is no reason to disbelieve the Government's commitment here or to believe that the size of classes in junior and secondary schools will increase as a result of this policy. We will ensure that it will not, through the regulations, guidance and the system of approval of LEA plans. As the noble Baroness said, we have made our position abundantly clear. Our consultation states that,plans will not be approved that show reductions in infant class sizes being achieved at the cost of increases in Key Stage 2 class sizes arising from a transfer of funding from junior to infant classes".It is clear from our commitments, and from the way in which our consultative document indicates that regulations will be drawn, that we will not allow that to happen. Therefore, the proposed provision is redundant.
The noble Baroness turned the argument slightly on its head by stressing the point about class sizes which have been reduced working through the system. It may work through in certain cases, but our priority is on infant classes. Indeed, our priority is for the early years. We believe that we have good educational grounds for ensuring that that is the priority. Therefore, although it may work through to upper years, there is no requirement for it to do so. None of that means that 555 junior school classes or higher level classes will increase as a result of these provisions, because of the commitments that we have made.
I move on to Amendment No. 14 which deals with travel. We have made it very clear that no child will have to travel an unreasonable distance to school as a result of our pledge to reduce infant class sizes. Furthermore, it would be impractical as well as unnecessary to require that LEA statements should set out the travel arrangements for what would effectively mean every single infant school pupil. We have said that funds will be provided for an extra teacher—and, where necessary, an extra classroom—if there is a child who has only one school within reasonable travelling distance and he could not otherwise be admitted without pushing an infant class beyond the limit of 30 pupils. Our consultation paper makes it clear that LEAs will have to provide information on what they will do in those circumstances.
LEAs have confirmed that what we are talking about here will be very much the exception rather than the norm. Where pupil numbers are growing, we would expect LEAs to apply for extra capital to provide the necessary number of classes. But, exceptionally, where a child requires a place and there is no other school within reasonable distance, we are talking about a second teacher in a class of 31, 32 or 35, as may be the case. The travelling arrangements of individual children is a matter of detailed implementation of the policy which is best left to the LEA to resolve in the context of the local situation, particularly in rural areas. We will provide the broad guidelines.
Amendment No. 15 deals with the question of temporary accommodation. I had thought that my noble friend Lord McIntosh had made clear the Government's intention here, and I think the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, recognised that. Not only have we made that clear in this place, but we have made it clear in terms of our commitment of capital—the extra money through the New Deal for Schools invested in schools' capital. A significant part of the first tranche will be used to replace old mobile classrooms with permanent structures. We have made it clear that applications for capital resources which relate simply to the provision of mobile classrooms will not be accepted.
In addition an extra £90 million of capital is being made available, of which £40 million is to provide extra classrooms to accommodate smaller infant classes. We shall shortly announce the details of the allocation of that £40 million for this year. I can also confirm that Church schools are to receive 100 per cent. funding for school building work in order to meet the class size commitment. The most effective means to control the use of mobile classrooms is through controlling funding rather than by an amendment such as this.
Amendment No. 13 deals with funding. I am not clear why the noble Baroness believes it is necessary to require implementation costs to be reimbursed in this way. She did not go into any detail on that. We have made it clear that we shall provide the funding that LEAs and schools need to enable them to reduce infant class sizes. We have pledged to use the resources 556 available from the phasing out of the assisted places scheme which will amount to some £100 million in the financial year commencing April 2001. Some £22 million of this has already been made available to LEAs. There is, of course, also the £40 million to which I referred earlier. This will enable LEAs to make good progress towards meeting the class size pledge.
This amendment would not require the Secretary of State to do anything more than he already has the power to do. We regard Amendment No. 13 as unnecessary. I hope that the noble Baroness will be prepared to withdraw her amendments.
§ 5 p.m.
§ Baroness Maddock
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I welcome the comments about adequate buildings. I wonder whether he shares my concern that when we listen to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, we are all expected to have amnesia about what happened before 1997 with regard to school space standards and extra resources that were not available for school buildings. I have mentioned my next question before. It concerns minimum space standards. Do the Government intend in the future to reverse the reductions in space standards that were permitted under the previous government?
§ Lord Whitty
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for reminding us of what happened over the past 18 years. I have tried to steer clear of partisan points in these debates. However, I am glad that she has made them for me. As regards space requirements, the priority at the moment is to reduce class sizes. We shall examine space requirements but at this point we do not intend to alter the space requirements that we have inherited.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, if the right reverend Prelate will forgive me, we are at Report stage and interventions are not possible after the Minister has spoken.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, the reply was disappointing. It is interesting that local education authorities and schools will be bound in law to provide this policy. The Government are prepared to put on the face of the Bill that they are obliging everyone in the system to deliver this policy. There is only one body that is not bound by law to fund this policy, unless it wins the money from the Treasury, and that is the DfEE. The noble Lord must accept that local education authorities and schools are genuinely nervous about this provision. They are alarmed at the calls on them to deliver this pledge, for if they are not funded properly they will have to use moneys to meet this pledge rather than meet other priorities.
The Government have given their word on junior school class sizes but are not prepared to put that on the face of the Bill. That makes me deeply suspicious. They have given their word that junior school class sizes will 557 not increase. It is nave to suggest that the same number of pupils will pass from an infant school to a junior school. If a two form entry school at present becomes a three form entry school, as night follows day those three form entries will pass into the following year and the year after that unless the children start in year one and then leave the school. As regards a large proportion of our schools, children stay in the same schools. There are areas of high mobility where children move in and out of schools—that causes another problem for teachers—but in most schools children who start in an infant school finish at the top end of that infant school. Those who start at the bottom end of a primary school finish at the top end of that primary school. As the three classes—that were two—progress through the school, those three classes will require three teachers and three classrooms. One cannot simply say that the numbers may work out, but that is not really an issue.
The Minister in another place has said that the Government have no plans to deal with Key Stage 2. If these pupil numbers work through into Key Stage 2, will schools be guaranteed funding for them? If they are not, the other part of the promise cannot be kept; namely, that class sizes in Key Stage 2 will not be increased. Class sizes will either increase or there will be smaller classes but more of them. The noble Lord looks puzzled, but this is a simple equation. If you have 63 children as an intake into an infant school and they are divided into three classes because they cannot be divided into two classes any more, and it is too far to send the children to another school, and there is no other denominational choice—all the factors that have been built into the guidance—and that school has to have another classroom and another teacher, there will be three classes of 21 children. Those three classes become second year classes, and then third year classes. If you put them into two classes in the junior school—in other words, have bigger classes in the junior school—the teachers' worst fears will be realised in that they will have bigger classes in the junior school.
§ Lord Whitty
My Lords, our pledge is that junior school classes will not increase above the size they would have been prior to the introduction of this policy. The noble Baroness is saying that the reductions in class size at the lowest level ought to be automatically reflected throughout the system. I agree that might be desirable, but that is not our priority. Our priority is to reduce class sizes at the lowest level. If, at junior school, there are two classes—where formerly there were three—we are not increasing the size of junior school classes above what they would otherwise have been. Therefore the noble Baroness's contention is incorrect. She wants us to commit ourselves to reducing the maximum size of junior school classes. At this stage we are not in a position to do that. I think that is understood.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, it is not understood, but it is now clear that children will revert to being taught in larger classes in junior schools. My next point is a logical progression from this policy. If two classes are made into three classes with 20-odd children in each, the capacity for that school to take more children is 558 increased. It must be a popular school if it has that problem in the first place. Therefore it takes in more children and instead of having three classes of 21, the classes increase to 25 or 26. When those children enter the junior school, do the classes then become two classes or do they remain three classes? I hope that the Minister will answer that point.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, on a point of order, we are on Report. Is it in order for the two Front Benches to become involved in an exchange of this kind at Report stage?
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, I remind the House that I was winding up on this amendment when I was interrupted by the Minister. I asked a question. My understanding has always been that with the leave of the House we can ask questions of the Minister. However, I shall leave the question on the table. We have received an interesting clarification that when two classes are split into three in an infants school, they return to being two classes in the junior school. That clarification is helpful and important.
Coopers & Lybrand produced a report for the Local Government Association on which the Government said they would not be commenting when I asked a Written Question. Following consultation with heads, teachers and governors, the report stated:Whilst there was widespread support for the policy of reducing class sizes in principle, we found that many heads were not convinced that a slight reduction in class sizes in their own schools would recompense for the upheaval and loss of flexibility that could result".The report went on to state:At Key Stage 2which is the point of one of my amendments—if the development causes resources to shift towards Key Stage I at the expense of other Key Stages … at Key Stage 1 and 2 if the policy causes a change to mixed age teaching … at Key Stage 1 if non teaching classroom assistants are withdrawn"—that is, if local authorities have to compensate in other ways in order to fund the change—at schools in areas of social deprivation if the policy causes a shift of resources towards schools in more prosperous areas".Those are real reservations that the Coopers & Lybrand report expressed to the local authorities. When the local authorities brought those matters before the Minister, they received short shrift. This is an important policy, and I wish to take the opinion of the House.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 12) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 86; Not-Contents, 140.560
|Division No. 3|
|Ailsa, M.||Arran, E.|
|Aldington, L.||Astor of Hever, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Attlee, E.|
|Alton of Liverpool, L.||Baker of Dorking, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Luke, L.|
|Berners, B.||Lyell, L.|
|Biddulph, L.||McConnell, L.|
|Biffen, L.||Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.|
|Blake, L.||Mackay of Drumadoon, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Mancroft, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Midleton, V.|
|Braine of Wheatley, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Burnham, L. [Teller.]||Munster, E.|
|Butterworth, L.||Naseby, L.|
|Cadman, L.||Northesk, E.|
|Caithness, E.||O'Cathain, B.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Onslow of Woking, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Chelmsford, V.||Oxfuird, V.|
|Colwyn, L.||Park of Monmouth, B.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Pearson of Rannoch, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Pilkington of Oxenford, L.|
|Cuckney, L.||Porter of Luddenham, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Rawlings, B.|
|Dean of Harptree, L.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Dixon-Smith, L.||Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.|
|Elton, L.||Roberts of Conwy, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Rotherwick, L.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Seccombe, B. [Teller.]|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Hayhoe, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|HolmPatrick, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Swansea, L.|
|Howell of Guildford, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Taylor of Warwick, L.|
|Jopling, L.||Tebbit, L.|
|Knight of Collingtree, B.||Teviot, L.|
|Leigh, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Liverpool, E.||Vivian, L.|
|Long, V.||Waddington, L.|
|Acton, L.||Eatwell, L.|
|Addington, L.||Evans of Parkside, L.|
|Alport, L.||Falconer of Thoroton, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Farrington of Ribbleton, B.|
|Ashley of Stoke, L.||Fitt, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Gallacher, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Gladwin of Clee, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Glenamara, L.|
|Berkeley, L.||Goodhart, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Gould of Potternewton, B.|
|Blease, L.||Graham of Edmonton, L.|
|Borrie, L.||Gregson, L.|
|Bridges, L.||Grenfell, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Grey, E.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Halsbury, E.|
|Burlison, L.||Hambro, L.|
|Calverley, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Carlisle, E.||Hardie, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Hardy of Wath, L.|
|Carrick, E.||Harris of Greenwich, L.|
|Carter, L. [Teller.]||Haskel, L.|
|Castle of Blackburn, B.||Hayman, B.|
|Chandos, V.||Hilton of Eggardon, B.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Hollis of Heigham, B.|
|Clinton-Davis, L.||Howie of Troon, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Hoyle, L.|
|Davies of Oldham, L.||Hughes, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Hughes of Woodside, L.|
|Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.||Hunt of Kings Heath, L.|
|Desai, L.||Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]|
|Donoughue, L.||Islwyn, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Jay of Paddington, B.|
|Dubs, L.||Jeger, B.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Rea, L.|
|Kennedy of The Shaws, B.||Redesdale, L.|
|Kennet, L.||Rendell of Babergh, B.|
|Kintore, E.||Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]|
|Kirkhill, L.||Ripon, Bp.|
|Linklater of Butterstone, B.||Rix, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.|
|Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.||Sainsbury of Turville, L.|
|Longford, E.||St John of Bletso, L.|
|McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]||Sandberg, L.|
|Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Mackie of Benshie, L.||Sewel, L.|
|McNair, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Maddock, B.||Shore of Stepney, L.|
|Mallalieu, B.||Simon, V.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Simon of Highbury, L.|
|Mason of Barnsley, L.||Smith of Gilmorehill, B.|
|Merlyn-Rees, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Meston, L.||Stone of Blackheath, L.|
|Methuen, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Milner of Leeds, L.||Symons of Vernham Dean, B.|
|Mishcon, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Monkswell, L.||Thomas of Gresford, L.|
|Montague of Oxford, L.||Thomas of Macclesfield, L.|
|Morris of Manchester, L.||Thomas of Walliswood, B.|
|Murray of Epping Forest, L.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.|
|Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.||Thurso, V.|
|Ogmore, L.||Tope, L.|
|Paul, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Peston, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Pitkeathley, B.||Walker of Doncaster, L.|
|Plant of Highfield, L.||Watson of Invergowrie, L.|
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Whitty, L.|
|Prys-Davies, L.||Williams of Crosby, B.|
|Ramsay of Cartvale, B.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Randall of St. Budeaux, L.||Williams of Mostyn, L.|
|Razzall, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ [Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15 not moved.]
§ Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 16:
§ After Clause 2, insert the following new clause—