HC Deb 08 June 1998 vol 313 cc748-51

6 pm

Mr. Byers

I beg to move amendment No. 86, in page 11, line 17, at end insert— '(ca) precluding a relevant school, in such circumstances as may be prescribed, from being one at which an induction period may be served;'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government amendments Nos. 87 to 93.

Amendment No. 119, in page 12, leave out lines 5 to 10.

Government amendments Nos. 94 and 95.

Mr. Byers

The amendments deal with the new induction arrangements for newly qualified teachers before they enter the teaching profession. Many hon. Members will be aware of the old system in which a teacher had to serve a probationary period. That approach fell into disrepute because the necessary investment was not made available; the previous Government removed the requirement for teachers to serve a probationary period because it was taken for granted that teachers would sail through it.

The Government take the view that an effective induction period should be put in place. The amendments would achieve three distinct objectives. First, they would enable the Government to ensure that no teachers serve an induction period in a school that is under special measures because it has been deemed to be failing. Secondly, they clarify the appeal arrangements that we intend to introduce when teachers have not successfully completed their induction period. Thirdly, they fine-tune existing provisions in the Bill to ensure that the induction arrangements are consistent with best education and employment practice.

On the first of those aims, amendment No. 86 would enable the Government to introduce regulations to ensure that an induction period is not served in a school that is subject to special measures. We take the view that, during the induction period, the individual teacher needs support and assistance, which should primarily come from the school. The prime responsibility of a school that has been found to be failing and is under special measures—there are nearly 500 such schools—must be to turn itself around and restore itself to good health so that it can offer the standards that we all want. In those circumstances, we believe that the school will not be able to give the necessary support and assistance to a student undergoing the induction year and that such schools should be precluded from offering an induction period.

Amendment No. 87 would allow a local education authority to decide whether a teacher has achieved the necessary standards during the induction period. The LEA—if it is the appropriate body in the circumstances—may decide that the period has been successfully completed, or that the induction should be extended by a specified amount of time, or that the teacher has failed to complete the induction to its satisfaction.

Amendments Nos. 88 and 92 enable regulations to be put in place so that the appropriate body can exercise functions in relation to the induction arrangements; in particular, they enable the appropriate bodies to make charges for carrying out those functions. We believe that LEAs are uniquely placed to carry out that important role. That is why we do not support amendment No. 119, which would remove that responsibility from a local education authority. The School Standards and Framework Bill gives a new duty to LEAs to promote high standards; we believe that involvement in the induction process is an important way in which LEAs can support our crusade to raise standards.

Amendments Nos. 90 and 93 are designed to clarify the existing appeal provisions. Amendment No. 91 enables regulations to require the employer of a teacher at a maintained or non-maintained school either to secure the termination of the teacher's employment or to give that teacher other duties in the school during any appeal. Amendments Nos. 94 and 95 are technical; I do not want to delay the House by going through their requirements in detail.

The amendments are significant and I commend them to the House. They improve the induction arrangements, clarify provision and ensure that additional responsibilities are not placed on failing schools. If amendment No. 119 is pressed, I ask the House to oppose it.

Mrs. May

Given the time constraint, I shall speak to amendment No. 119 only briefly. In response to the debate on the previous group of amendments, the Minister referred to his expectations about the future of schools. We know that his hopes for the structure of schools are different from those of the Secretary of State—that is reflected in the Bill, particularly in its references to local education authorities.

Amendment No. 119 would remove clause 19(4), which prescribes that the appropriate body should mean the local education authority. We do not believe that the flexibility that is allowed is sufficient; we think that the Government should consider the matter—and perhaps even the role of the General Teaching Council—more widely. We shall debate the council tomorrow, but I believe that if it is to be the body that determines the professional status of teachers and whether the teachers it registers satisfy its high professional standards, it has a role to play in this matter. Appropriate bodies should not primarily be local education authorities, especially as, in the future that the Minister seems to prescribe, they will cease to exist.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 87, in page 11, line 24, leave out from 'decide' to end of line 27 and insert 'whether a person—

  1. (i) has achieved those standards and has accordingly satisfactorily completed his induction period, or
  2. (ii) should have his induction period extended by such period as may be determined by the appropriate body, or
  3. (iii) has failed satisfactorily to complete his induction period;'.

No. 88, in page 11, leave out lines 28 to 31.

No. 89, in page 11, line 33, leave out 'on the matter referred to in paragraph (f)(i)' and insert 'as to whether a person has achieved the standards mentioned in paragraph (e)'.

No. 90, in page 11, leave out lines 34 and 35.

No. 91, in page 11, line 40, leave out from 'to' to end of line 42 and insert 'secure—

  1. (i) the termination of that person's employment as a teacher, or
  2. (ii) that he only undertakes such teaching duties as may be determined in accordance with the regulations,
in such circumstances following a decision that he has failed satisfactorily to complete his induction period as may be prescribed;'.

No. 92, in page 11, line 42, at end insert— '(ka) authorising or requiring the appropriate body to exercise such other functions as may be prescribed (which may include functions with respect to the provision of assistance to schools or of training for teachers); (kb) authorising the appropriate body in such circumstances as may be prescribed to make such reasonable charges in connection with the exercise of its functions under the regulations as it may determine;'.

No. 93, in page 12, line 4, at end insert— '(3A) Regulations under this section shall include provision conferring on a person aggrieved by a decision under subsection (2)(f) a right to appeal against the decision to one of the following, namely—

  1. (a) the Secretary of State, or
  2. (b) the Council or the General Teaching Council for Wales;
and any decision made on such an appeal shall be final. (3B) Regulations mde in pursuance of subsection (3A) may make provision for, or for the determination in accordance with the regulations of, such matters relating to such appeals as the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient.'.

No. 94, in page 12, line 19, at end insert— '(6A) Where, in accordance with a requirement imposed by virtue of subsection (2)(k)(ii), a teacher employed at a school maintained by a local education authority—

  1. (a) continues to be employed at the school, but,
  2. (b) is not undertaking his normal teaching duties there,
any costs incurred by the local education authority in respect of the teacher's emoluments shall not be met from the school's budget share for any financial year except in so far as the authority have good reason for deducting those costs, or any part of those costs, from that share. Nothing in this subsection applies to a maintained school at any time when the school does not have a delegated budget.'.

No. 95, in page 12, line 20, at end insert— '(aa) any reference to a school's budget share or to its not having a delegated budget has the same meaning as in Part II of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, and'.

No. 96, in page 12, leave out lines 21 to 23.

No. 97, in page 12, line 25, leave out 'subsection (12) of that section' and insert 'section 218(12) of the Education Reform Act 1988'.— [Mr. Byers.]

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