HL Deb 18 October 1989 vol 511 cc981-1012

House again in Committee.

Clause 55 [Proceedings of college councils]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 96: Page 38, line 25, at end insert— ("(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations—

  1. (a) require College Councils and any committee established by them to make available to such persons or classes of persons as may be prescribed such documents and information relating to their meetings and proceedings as may be prescribed; and
  2. (b) precribe the extent to which meetings of the College Council and of any such Committee are to be open to the public.").

The noble Lord said: This is a brief amendment to Clause 55. It mirrors the wording of the School Boards (Scotland) Act. It is considered that the public should have the same rights of access to the meetings of college councils as they have to those of school boards. Perhaps there is a greater justification in respect of college councils because of the wide area of education and the community which they will be serving. I beg to move.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

The amendment provides the same access to information on the proceedings of college councils as is provided for school boards under subsection 6(9) of the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988. However, subsection 6(9) was necessary only because there was no general power in the School Boards Act for the Secretary of State to make regulations governing school board meetings and proceedings. He does have a power to regulate college council meetings and proceedings under Clause 55(2)(d) of the present Bill which could be used to cover the matters mentioned in the amendment. The amendment is therefore unnecessary.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am obliged to the Minister for that information. If he is satisfied that the matter focused by the amendment is covered under existing legislation, I beg leave at this stage to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 55 agreed to.

Clause 56 [Functions of college councils]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 97: Page 39, line 3, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Lord said: The effect of the amendment is to delete the power of the Secretary of State to make regulations at a later date which would determine the functions which should or should not be delegated and the conditions subject to which functions are to be delegated. The Government should make clear the purpose of the subsection and explain to the Committee what functions they consider should be delegated to a college council.

The Minister will gather that this is a probing amendment. At the end of August a consultation paper was issued by the SED seeking comments by 31st October with regard to the proposals for secondary legislation in order to implement the principle of delegating greater control to colleges. While a formal CoSLA response has still to be made, we should be given information about the Government's real concern. The Minister will be aware that in respect of such matters it is normal for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to be given more information than is the case on this occasion. I beg to move.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

On this matter I can give a firm assurance to try to put in place what the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, would want me to say on the question of education authorities in this connection. The impression may be that education authorities will be bound hand and foot by a mass of regulations on delegation schemes. I give a firm assurance that that will not be our intention. We have evidence of our intention in the form of the consultative paper The College Control Principle which we have issued on secondary legislation which might be made under this Bill. That proposes to make only a minimal number of regulations on delegation schemes and other matters. Otherwise the powers conferred by subsection (4) would be used as fall-back powers, to be used only if authorities were laggard in delegating functions, or to deal with any difficulties which arose during the implementation of the new system.

We expect authorities to delegate substantial powers to college councils. The question they should be asking is why should any function not be delegated. Similarly, conditions of delegation must not be so restrictive that the college council cannot do anything important without referring the matter to the authority for approval. If there were any attempts to subvert the spirit of a delegation scheme by imposing over-restrictive conditions, or reserving powers unreasonably to the authority, then the Secretary of State would not hesitate to act. But I am sure local authorities will act responsibly and this power can be kept largely in reserve.

Fears may have been expressed that regulations on delegation schemes would remove education authorities' powers to implement their further education strategies. On the contrary, our proposals will free authorities from involvement in the detailed administration of colleges and enable them to take a more strategic role—as I believe is now the policy in Strathclyde at least.

The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, mentioned the proposals and also the circulation of the paper The College Control Principle on which we are seeking information. We shall not take any decisions on the regulations on delegation schemes until we have considered the comments on our consultative paper. We are expecting representations from some 15 groups on this matter. We must also take account of any relevant changes which Parliament might make to the Bill. However, at present we propose that regulations should provide that colleges can control the use of college property, have responsibility for maintaining it and be able to undertake minor repairs and refurbishment and buy equipment.

Colleges would also be able to choose what individual courses to run, though the authority would be able to ensure through approval of the college development plan that matters such as the subject areas offered were consistent with the authority's further education strategy. Staffing matters might be set out in some detail, partly because college staff would quite rightly wish to know where they stand. However, while college councils might be able to select staff, subject to approval of the short leet for principal; Clause 56(2)(a) provides that the authority would remain the employer and only it could dismiss staff. Finally commercial activities powers, other than the power to give loans, might be delegated.

I should add that these proposals follow very tclosely recommendations by the working group on the management of further education in Scotland, a group of further education practitioners largely nominated by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. So our consultative proposals are themselves built on consultations.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. In view of the timetable with which we are faced, I do not suppose that there is any possibility of an explanation being given to Parliament before the Bill receives Royal Assent. That is a pity but I understand that. I am grateful to the Minister and I am sure that some of the other bodies which have contacted us will be grateful for the information. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 56 agreed to.

Clauses 57 to 67 agreed to.

Clause 68 [Technology academies]:

8.15 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 98: Page 46, line 32, at end insert— ("and (c) does not determine admission on the grounds of general academic ability.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to the character of technology colleges. The characteristics in the Bill are that the school:

  1. "(a) provides secondary education; and
  2. (b) has a broad curriculum with an emphasis on science and technology".

The purpose of the amendment is to prevent a technology academy determining admission on the grounds of general academic ability. One of the main concerns is that because of the construction of the technology academies, they will wish to reintroduce general academic selection particularly if they become over-subscribed because they must have a form of selection. To introduce a form of selection into a technology academy based purely on academic ability would be counter-productive to the Scottish education system and would undermine the local authority control of public education.

These colleges will be run by private companies under Clause 65. However, although they will have the air of being run by private companies, they will be wholly dependent on the Government for their running expenses. It may very well be that in the nature of things, if they are successful they will become selective. Selection on an academic basis would be contrary to the qualities which are looked for in a technology college; for example, motivation and attitude towards the job.

One reason for expressing this fear is that subsection (2)(a) mentions the school providing a secondary education. It may be that under that umbrella a college may be tempted in certain circumstances to introduce academic selection, purely and simply. For that reason, I beg to move the amendment.

Lord Addington

I should like to support this amendment. In the past when we have tried to determine admissions to schools by academic tests, we tended to have rather mixed results. Indeed, the old 11-plus examination is a classic case of people who had not developed educationally at the same rate as others missing out or people who showed early promise being in the wrong school. I have certain reservations about a technology-based school, but I support any move to make sure that admission will not be by an academic test which is bound to miss a few people and may miss a great many. We may thus have a great, many educational disasters on our hands.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

The principle of this amendment, which seeks to ensure that admission arrangements to technology academies should not be based on selection by academic ability, is in line with the Government's policy and I think I can quickly reassure noble Lords opposite about our intention in this respect.

It is worth noting a major difference between an academy and an education authority school. The normal authority school serves a catchment area which is drawn so that all the pupils in that area can attend. There is normally no need for any form of choice among applicants. An academy will serve a very wide catchment area. This is necessary to allow the largest number of children the chance of attending and also to minimise the effect which an academy might have on local authority school rolls. For example, in our discussions with Strathclyde Region, we proposed that a technology academy based in Allan Glen's school would have the whole of Glasgow as its catchment area. Clearly in these circumstances an academy must have some way of selecting between applicants if, as we confidently expect, it is attractive to very many parents and pupils.

Contrary to a widely held misconception, however, technology academies are not intended to be selective in the narrow academic sense. Indeed, it is our policy that academies should be required, as a condition of grant, to admit pupils covering a wide range of ability. Within that requirement technology academies will seek to admit pupils who show commitment and willingness to benefit from the education offered by the academy. Commitment is particularly important because pupils will be required, for example, to work a longer school day and devote part of that day to participation in activities which are considered extra-curricular in authority schools. It is only in this sense that an academy will apply a selection process.

I therefore do not demur from the principle underlying the noble Lord's amendment and I think they will find clear evidence of the Government's intentions in the document we produced in October 1988 and in the document outlining the terms of the agreement we tried to reach with Strathclyde region, which unfortunately did not take place. However I cannot accept the terms of the amendment. Indeed, one might argue that the noble Lords' amendment could well have an opposite effect to what was intended. If due regard was not paid to the abilities of prospective pupils in drawing up the admissions arrangements and the academy simply admitted on a first come first served basis it might well end up with an imbalance in favour of more able students. We do not wish that to happen and I would suggest that the arrangements we propose achieve the desired end more effectively. That was the experience of those who took part in the unfortunately fruitless negotiations to start a technology academy in Allan Glen's school.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am obliged to the Minister for that reply and gratified by his assurances that the Government can see no real problem in the progress of the academies. It is perhaps unfortunate that the word "academy" has been used because it tends to carry with it an aura of elitism in education.

However, now that an explanation has been given—and we on this side of the Committee accept that there must be some form of selection procedure—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 99: Page 46, line 32, at end insert— ("(2A) It shall be prescribed that only registered teachers shall be employed, or continue to be employed, as teachers in technology academies.").

The noble Lord said: This is a further amendment to Clause 68. The reason behind the amendment is, putting it broadly, that it is in the interests of pupils and parents to have a guarantee that the teaching staffs are properly qualified for the posts they hold.

The amendment is worded to ensure that reference is made only to teachers and not to persons who come into the college. It is intended to give parents and children a guarantee of a high standard of teaching staffs, properly qualified and trained. That would prevent what I call technical cowboys getting into the teaching process by pretending to have a certain expertise or qualification showing ability to teach. Such people might be appointed to important posts on their own references, so to speak, and the academy find out at a later stage that they are useless members of the teaching staff.

A qualified teacher at least gives a standard on which the applicant can be judged. The amendment does not mean that the college cannot employ in the course of teaching experts from the various fields of industry and so on covered by the activities of the academy. The amendment proposes a protective piece of legislation. I beg to move.

Lord Addington

I support this amendment. We appear to be reiterating arguments that we had earlier this evening in so far as no matter what a person's technical knowledge there should be some guarantee that he can impart that knowledge; that is, he has teaching ability.

As the noble Lord said, this does not exclude people with specific knowledge who may be brought into the academy for short periods of time. However, it is reasonable that if they are to be teaching at the college for some considerable time they should have undertaken some training in the art of teaching.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

I can understand why this amendment has been tabled and I appreciate the concerns felt by noble Lords opposite that there should be appropriate provision to ensure that teachers employed at technology academies should be suitable persons to be teaching, that they should have appropriate qualifications and not be, in that nice term, technical cowboys.

The Committee will recognise that there is a specific legal distinction between public schools—that is, those managed by education authorities and self-governing schools where there is a provision to ensure GTC registration—and technology academies. A technology academy will, as prescribed in Clause 68(1)(a), be an independent school. As such, it will be subject to the conditions which apply to other independent schools. In relation to staff this means that decisions on who should be employed in an academy will rest with the managers of that school. However, this does not suggest that technology academies will be staffed by unqualified teachers. I expect that in practice many—indeed, most—of the teachers employed in technology academies will have GTC registration. That is the case in many of our independent schools at present.

However, it is desirable that managers of technology academies should have a degree of flexibility. The nature of the education to be offered by these academies makes this particularly important. For example, an academy may arrange to employ on short-term secondments people with relevant industrial experience.

I think I can do no better than indicate what Councillor Malcolm Green, who chairs the education committee in Strathclyde, said at the time of the negotiations over the Allan Glen's proposed technology academy. The ideas that came forward from the Strathclyde regional council were in setting up the region's own technology centres. This was debated at that time and I quote from the Scotsman of 6th May 1989. It was made perfectly clear by Councillor Green that these technology centres which might be set up, would provide equipment not normally available to schools as well as staff with industrial experience (not necessarily trained teachers) and it would also be open during the holidays". The important point is that on the substance of what we intend for technology academies this was not an area of dispute between the Strathclyde regional council and the Government.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I thank the Minister for that reply. I appreciate the distinction between registered teachers in ordinary schools, if I may call them that, and these technology academies which will be run on an independent basis.

The amendment was tabled as an effort to obtain some form of regulation for the teaching staff of the academies. Having heard the Minister expounding his view on how events will develop, only time will tell whether there will be flexibility within the colleges and whether the people with relevant industrial experience will turn out to be good teachers. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 100: Page 46, line 38, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Lord said: This is a short probing amendment as regards Clause 68(3)(b). It is really asking the Government to explain as briefly as possible what the phrase "other conditions and requirements" means in the context of the clause.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

It may be helpful to give some details regarding the type of conditions and requirements which will be contained in a funding agreement and on which the Secretary of State would require to be satisfied before making payments to a technology academy. In particular, the agreement will specify that the academy will be organised and managed in accordance with a scheme of Government approved by the Secretary of State.

The scheme will set out a number of requirements covering various aspects ranging from curriculum and admission procedures to the responsibilities and duties of the governors of an academy. For example, it will specify that the academy should provide a broad curriculum taking account of advice issued on behalf of the Secretary of State. It will also be required to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity. There will be conditions requiring the proper management and audit of funds made available from public sources. There will also be conditions to protect any capital grant investment made by the Secretary of State in that an academy would be obliged to make appropriate repayments to the Secretary of State in the event of a sale or disposal of assets acquired wholly or in part by capital grant.

I am sure the Committee will agree that it is particularly important that the Secretary of State should be able to insist on the kinds of conditions which I have mentioned. To do otherwise would, I suggest, be negligent. In the light of that explanation I hope that the noble Lord is wiser as to the intention behind the types of conditions and requirements that the Government would wish to lay down.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am grateful to the Minister for that very full reply which satisfies me at this stage. The amendment being a probing one and the answer having been given, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 68 agreed to.

Clause 69 [Testing in primary schools]:

On Question, Whether Clause 69 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I wish to oppose the Motion that the clause stand part of the Bill. In other words, I wish to oppose the government proposals for the revision of the curriculum and the assessment arrangements for Scottish primary schools including the introduction of nationally standardised tests in English and mathematics at primary four and primary seven levels. Few people object to the main thrust of the proposal. Some form of measuring pupils' progress is clearly desirable both to parents and teachers.

We object most strongly to the enforcement of specific tests in specific subjects at specific primary school stages with the inevitable distortion of the curriculum and of the learning pattern. The Minister promises that the results of each child's test will be private to the teacher and the child's parents and that they will not be permitted to be used for the purpose of placing children in rank order or selecting them for secondary school.

Nevertheless, there is a real concern that has already been articulated by parents, teachers and others who are interested in education matters, that national testing will result in the reintroduction of acute anxiety among pupils. We believe it is a fact that such pressures produce adverse results on the performance of the pupils. The Government's proposals for testing also have no basis for success in practical terms. For example, it is totally unrealistic to expect one testing programme to provide both information about attainment levels and the basis for constructive action related to the needs of pupils. A system that determines pupils' levels of attainment on a national scale cannot fulfil diagnostic requirements related to individual learning. Nowadays, education should be particular about individual learning.

The essential requirement is for in-depth diagnosis which seeks to find out the causes of pupils' difficulties. That is ignored if we take the road that this clause seems to suggest. Tests in mathematics and English carried out at the end of any stage will not help teachers to help pupils or assist in ongoing communication with parents about their children's progress.

On the matter of curriculum assessment, we believe that there should be established broad national curricula guidelines that can be developed locally. Assessment as a continuous part of teaching and learning must be a continuous process throughout the pupil's career. The proposal for national testing should be abandoned and encouragement should be given to the examination of good assessment practice in primary education. Better communication between schools and parents on curricula and assessment matters besides the progress of the children in the widest educational sense is urgently needed.

The Minister will have gathered from what I have said so far that what we are really concerned about is a general method of assessment which is perhaps not easy to devise. It is likely to be more accurate than just a single test at particular times without relation to the child's development. We all know now that the rate of development is different. A child may not be doing all that well at the age of eight but he may be doing extremely well at the age of 10.

The reason for opposing this clause is that we think that the Government should reconsider it. I know that it is part of the Holy Grail, but we feel that it is a mistaken journey. We hope that the Minister will have the sense to draw back and think of the matter more deeply.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I think the crux of this whole amendment is that we do not want the spectre of the 11-plus raised again in the minds of children and parents to inhibit the learning process. One cannot object to tests being run as to the progress of children. What we do object to is one single test that is raised as an obstacle in children's and parents' minds which has to be overcome. That is vitally important. It raises anxiety and inhibits education.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

In his reply, can the Minister indicate to the Committee on what basis primary four and primary seven were chosen as being the only times at which a child should be tested? If we are introducing the principle of testing in two limited subjects then we may as well go the whole hog and give pupils a test every year in English and mathematics. Then it would be possible to assess how the child was progressing.

A child's educational life, particularly at primary school age, is a life of ups and downs, with crises here and there. It is difficult to know why primary four and seven have been singled out for this educational treatment. Perhaps the Minister can tell us where the demand is for this testing? Does it come from the teachers? Do not the teachers and head teachers feel that they can assess on a regular basis the progress of children through the school? Do we have to have this marking standard? If it is confidential only to the parent it will cause the same anxieties as many of us knew in the past when we had to pass a qualifying exam to enter a secondary school.

I hesitate to use the expression "the most hair-raising experience" in my present condition, but at that time I had hair that was capable of being raised. That kind of stress and strain on pupils, with the tremendous sense of disappointment and frustration as a result of failure on the mind of the child who had failed the qualifying exam or who did not get into the first 'A' stream in the old-style school, was quite enormous and caused a great deal of difficulty.

The Minister will have had a letter from the Church of Scotland dated 11th April 1989. Unfortunately, my copy of the letter is unsigned. I assume that it was signed. The writer of the letter speaks in these terms: For your information, I analysed five of the ten files of responses to the consultation paper on curriculum and assessment, being 493 submissions out of over a thousand. Of these only 8, 1.6% supported your original proposal on primary testing. 415, 84.2% were directly opposed to the proposal, 23 did not mention it and the remainder gave qualified support, though in many cases the qualifications were such that they were as good as opposed to the proposal. A very large number of these responses were corporate. Many were from groups of parents, of teachers and of other educationists. Included were large numbers of associations, including parents and parent-teachers, of School Councils and of professional associations. The considerable number of individuals who wrote often did so in very personal and emotional terms of their memory of primary testing. We are very willing to agree that pupil assessment and diagnostic testing are necessary. After the reaction of the consultation exercise, however, an extensive public relations job is required if testing in primary school is an educationally acceptable way is to proceed". That is a trenchant summary of the oppposition to and the lack of demand for testing in primary schools. I support the amendment.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

That may be so, but the noble Lord knows as well as I do that all over Scotland, living close to where he lives and where I live, there are parents who want to know what their child should be able to do and understand at a certain age. That is what parents want to know. He also knows, as the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, rightly said, that children develop at different speeds, and so to have tests every year is not a good suggestion. Most parents will agree with that. However, to have here and there a benchmark by which people can know whether their child is roughly where he or she should be at a given age is extremely helpful. It is also extremely helpful to them to know whether groups of children who are taught by a particular teacher are as a group failing to reach their potential. That is helpful to the teacher. It means that there is something wrong with the method or the approach. Although the pressure groups and those with conventional wisdom are saying that we should not have testing, this is a minimal proposal which parents greatly welcome.

Lord Addington

The problem is that the word "testing" is being used. If we use the word "assessment" we might feel a little happier about it. Tests imply passing or failing, although it is explained to us that this is not the purpose of the proposal. Children of this age cannot be judged as passing or failing. They have different rates of development and different abilities. Can we have an assurance that this proposal is about assessment of the individual development of a child and is not about attaining some rigid and, to be perfectly honest, arbitrary level? It may be argued that our whole education system is far too riddled with passing and failing. Can we have a guarantee that we are going for assessment and not a pass mark?

8.45 p.m.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

Clause 69 is a sensible safeguard. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is simply seeking reserve powers which could be used, if necessary, to set out regulations about national testing with which education authorities should conform. It is a useful safety net to ensure that parents in every education authority, and self-governing schools, receive the information to which they are entitled about their children's progress in key subjects in a way which is consistent across the country and comprehensible in commonsense terms. I am sure that education authorities and boards of management of self-governing schools will recognise the educational worth of the national tests that we propose and that the reserve powers need not be enacted.

The clause will also ensure that the Scottish Examination Board can administer the system of primary testing through a primary assessment unit and that the Government can fund the board for that purpose. Noble Lords will recognise that the reputation of the Scottish Examination Board stands unchallenged and that its involvement will ensure public confidence in the absolute integrity of the conduct and administration of the system.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked about assessment. The tests are part of a wider programme to improve assessment. In the report card each child will have an overall assessment, as the noble Lord would want. This will help to ensure that each child realises his or her full potential.

The noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, asked about primary four and primary seven. Those were very sensible questions. We feel that those are two key stages. At primary four the basics should have been mastered; and primary seven gives an opportunity to assess the attainment before the transition to secondary school. The noble Lord also asked where the demand comes from. The results of a major survey of parental opinion were announced on Monday of this week by my honourable friend the Minister. It showed that 67 per cent. of primary school parents are in favour of what is proposed.

There have been many interesting comments on what the Government propose in this area. Standard testing is widely practised in Scottish education authorities at the moment. It is quite hypocritical to pretend otherwise or to assume that it is radically different —this is the important point —from what we envisage. In the Borders, central Fife, Grampian and Highlands screening tests of one form or another in aspects of reading or mathematics are applied at points in primary education. In other authorities such as Strathclyde, Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway, standardised tests are used in a number of schools without the education authority appearing to object. What we envisage has a perfectly respectable educational pedigree in Scotland.

The form of testing which we envisage will not be at variance with this established practice. It has been said that testing in Fife is diagnostic and not normative. I shall quote from the aims and reasons which are in the teachers' introduction to the mathematics test devised by Fife at primary five: to provide, information as to which pupils have achieved a certain specific level of mastery of various skills in number and shape". I shall also quote from the guidance to teachers which Fife issued to its teachers at primary five: The test is seen as necessary to provide such security for teachers who are unsure of what attainment is reasonable for their stage". There is one big difference between the present arrangements in Fife as I understand them, and what we propose—parents should be brought into the discussions on this form of assessment.

I am sorry that I have spoken at length but it is an important issue. Noble Lords on all sides of the Committee take seriously what Her Majesty's Inspectorate says on this matter. It fully supports our contention that assessment policy and practice in primary schools is inconsistent in its quality and application both between and within schools. I refer to a survey conducted by the Times Educational Supplement Scotland, published in November 1988, of 40 primary schools inspected in that year. It provides an independent verification of our concerns from a period following the original announcement of our proposals in November 1987. I quote from those conclusions: Some schools have no policy or at least no explicit policy. Some that do fail to implement it. Some teachers excel in their assessment, others even in the same school barely do so. Education authorities which have policies cannot be confident that schools will follow them, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate". I understand the reflection of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, that a test can do more harm than good. However, I hope that my explanation of how we see it for the future will help him to understand our belief that it will aid standards in education.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am grateful to the Minister for the trouble that he has, as always, taken in his reply. I am also grateful for the contributions of my noble friend Lord Macaulay and the noble Lord, Lord Addington. I must comment on what the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, said. Of course I am all for aptitude tests. I believe that they can greatly help children. One can decide that some children are mathematically blind and others blind in other ways.

With any form of continuous testing, which has been the norm for a long time now, parents can regularly discuss with teachers at parents' nights how their child is getting on. Teachers give up a great deal of time for parents' nights.

I have seen many report cards which I could not condemn because there were no numbers attached to them. That was important. There was no horrible grading that said that one's son or daughter was a bit better than another. The effect on children is severe if they get the idea that they are second-class citizens. The only good thing I can say is that the abilities of a number of young adults, who were late developers, survived the obstacle course of a school education that many of them were asked to go through in the old days. I believe that the Minister's heart is in the right place. The great difficulty about legislation is that one cannot put intentions into it. Unless we can change some of those points soon, we can only hope that the people who will inherit the scheme from him will look at the clause in the same spirit as he does.

Clause 69 agreed to.

Clause 70 [Appraisal of teachers]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 101: Page 48, line 13, leave out ("different classes of teachers or of").

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment. Given the Government's commitment to the employment of registered teachers, we are curious as to what the Government mean by the term "different classes of teachers". I beg to move.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

The amendment would be an unnecessary restiction on the Secretary of State's enabling power. It would restrict the content and dimension of appraisal schemes which might be required of education authorities, and prevent them from taking account of the different needs of teachers at different levels of responsibility and in different types of school. We need to have a flexible power to ensure that authorities may be required to frame appraisal procedures appropriate for teachers at various levels and with various responsibilities. If that power has to be used, we want to be able to do so in a way which allows authorities to introduce and to apply appraisal in a manner suitable for the particular teacher or teachers concerned. The amendment would leave my right honourable friend the Secretary of State with a power only to require schemes of a most general kind, not differentiated for different groups of teachers. That would not be an effective or equitable way of proceeding, and would make the enabling power of limited use. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lord will be reassured about the intention behind the clause.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

In the light of that answer, can the Minister confirm that by "different classes of teachers" he means different categories of certificated teachers within the system?

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

I need to look closely at that point. On first looking at it, my answer would be a qualified yes; but I must double-check.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am glad that the Minister gave a firm qualification. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 70 agreed to.

Clause 71 [Placing of recorded and other children and young persons in schools outwith Scotland etc.]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 102: Page 49, line 46, leave out ("(whether or not a school)") and insert ("whose prime function is to provide education.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment refers to an important provision relating to the attendance of certain children and young persons with special educational needs at establishments outwith the United Kingdom. The establishment is qualified by the words in line 46: whether or not a school". The amendment proposes that those words should be substituted by the words: whose prime function is to provide education".

It has long been established in Scotland that all children, regardless of the nature of their disabilities or handicaps, have the full right to education. It is therefore vital that any child who has been identified as having special educational needs has those needs catered for in an establishment whose prime function is the provision of education to that child. To suggest that it is appropriate to send some children to an establishment, whether or not it be a school, strikes at the fundamental prinicple of equal educational opportunities for all.

I shall not enter into a debate at this time about what is known as conductive education which is carried out by certain institutions abroad and which is being experimented with in Birmingham, because it is a specialised field and not basically an educational one. It is an attempt to get certain children with motor deficiencies ambulant and functional. On the information that I have, which I do not put forward as a fact, the non-ambulant, non-functional child with severe handicap, who would be entitled to education here to the limit of his abilities, would not be accepted by such an institution abroad.

To send the child, and his or her parents, to one of those institutions for selection might be a destructive process because the information seems to suggest that about 80 per cent. of applicants for one such institution are rejected by it. The children undergo an intense programme from 6.30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The course is run by people called "conductors", not teachers, who carry out the duties of parent, teacher and trainer.

The amendment has been moved to draw the Government's attention to the fact that it appears to be too wide a matter to be left in the present terms: whether or not a school". They must examine any such establishment closely and lay down guidelines as to what type of institutions the child is to be allowed to attend outwith Scotland. If the child suffers rejection, or does not respond to the regime, it could be educationally disadvantageous to the child. Accordingly, I beg to move.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I am a little doubtful about the amendment in that it narrows the field more than somewhat. If it referred to an establishment which gave a child more chance of an education, it might be more useful. To say an establishment: whose prime function is to provide education might narrow the field. I prefer the wording as it is.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

I could not agree more with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, on this occasion. The amendment appears to be designed to prevent an education authority assisting with the cost of attendance of a child or young person with special educational needs at an establishment abroad, unless the main function of that establishment is to provide education.

On the face of it, that requirement may seem reasonable; but there is a small but important point which the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, may have overlooked. As the clause stands, education authorities will have discretionary powers to help send children abroad to attend establishments which may make provision, wholly or mainly, for persons with pronounced and specific or complex special educational needs.

The clause has been deliberately worded in that way in order that authorities can, if they think appropriate, send a child to an educational unit which might, for example, be a small part of a hospital or other establishment whose main function is not education. That was the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. He is correct. That is why I believe that the clause as it stands is the better option.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am obliged to the Minister for that reply, and to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie for his contribution. It is nice to see the Minister and the noble Lord agreeing with each other. I accept what the Minister has said. I wish to make it clear that those of us on this side of the Committee have no intention or desire to restrict anything that is good for the development of those unfortunate children. In the light of the explanation given by the Minister as to the interpretation of the clause as it stands, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 103: Page 50, line 14, at end insert— ("(c) where an authority considers that it would be to the advantage of the child or young person that subsection (b) above apply and where this causes an authority to incur expenses it would not normally incur, an authority will be able to make application to the Secretary of State for financial assistance in meeting the expenses of the parent, parents or other person concerned.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is an addition to Clause 71 which is basically designed to ensure that funding will be available to allow parents to accompany their children where that is considered to be to the advantage of the child. It is acknowledged that catering for children with special educational needs is cost intensive. We have been through all that before. Local authorities respond positively towards meeting the special educational needs of children. They do so in a manner designed to ensure the fair distribution of resources.

The consequences of the amendment as it stands would be that some of the funds could be re-allocated or allocated to pay the expenses of the parents where that was considered to be advantageous to the child. It would perhaps prevent the authorities being torn between redirecting funds towards parents and refusing to permit parents to accompany their children in the event of them attending schools such as those envisaged in the previous amendment. That is a dilemma into which authorities should not be put unless it is absolutely necessary. I am sure that the noble Lord will appreciate, as we all do, that the presence of parents during the process of education and the improvement of the child in this sphere of education is often crucial to the success of the experiment. The bonding between the parent and the child is a very important element of the advancement of the child's educational status. I beg to move.

Lord Addington

This amendment seems to be sensible for the simple reason that a child who has special educational needs may well need the help and support of a parent when undergoing a particular programme of education. I regard education as used here in the general sense of well being and even education in using certain motor skills within the child's own body. I suggest that if this is required —and we are supposed to be helping the children—by assisting the parent, we shall be helping the child. Thus it is a reasonable measure.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

This amendment attempts to provide a means whereby education authorities can recoup direct from central government the additional expenditure incurred in helping children with special educational needs to go abroad. It would in effect create a specific grant scheme, a method of finance not favoured, as I understand it, by COSLA or its constituent authorities.

There are fundamental difficulties in the proposal. If the amount of money set aside is not taken up, the savings could not be taken up for other purposes. On the other hand, if a very deserving case arose after the money had been exhausted, the education authority would have to refuse to help. Moreover, calculation of the amount of excess would have to depend on an estimate of the alternative cost in this country, which experience tells us cannot be accurately predicted unless a child has entered school and had his special educational needs assessed.

I do not believe that this proposal is necessary. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has in recent years made generous settlements in support of special needs expenditure. I can give the Committee the figures. In the past eight years the increase has gone up from £30 million to £81 million. We have not tried to specify particular ways in which the extra resources should be deployed, but we had in mind among other things the kind of expenditure which this clause allows. That is expenditure which serves to extend the options and choices for parents of disabled children.

We are not asking authorities to exercise their discretion in ways which they cannot afford or in areas where they have not been given extra provision. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lords will consider withdrawing the amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am grateful to the Minister for that very full reply. I take it that the principle he has given is that he is in sympathy with the concept that parents should be funded in circumstances where it would be advantageous to the child and his or her development. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 71 agreed to.

Clause 72 [Further amendment of 1980 Act in respect of recorded children]:

Lord Sanderson of Bowden moved Amendment No. 104: Page 50, line 31, at end insert— ("(3) In section 62(3) of that Act (duty to ensure provision made for recorded special educational needs), at the end there shall be added the words"; and they shall in any event, as regards each such child belonging to their area as is mentioned in section 60(2)(ii) of this Act, make provision for any special educational needs recorded in respect of the child which are not being met by other suitable arrangements".").

The noble Lord said: I wish to move Amendment No. 104 and speak also to Amendment No. 119. Clause 72 places on education authorities a duty to assess for recording children between two and four years of age who have come to the authorities' attention as having or likely to have special educational needs. Once a record is opened, an authority must ensure that any provision it makes caters for a child's special educational needs. This works well for the pupil over school age as the authority is obliged to provide school education and so will have to include the special educational needs identified in the record. However, authorities are under no general obligation to give education to a pre-school age child, though they have power to do so if they wish. It follows that authorities could avoid their obligation to implement records of need by refusing to make any provision at all. We believe that this is unacceptable, and the amendment removes that possibility. There is also a consequential amendment which it will be convenient to take at this stage. I beg to move.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am slightly inclined to agree with the general tenor of what the Minister has said. That would mean that my original intention to move the Motion that Clause 72 shall not stand part of the Bill would be superfluous. Listening to what the Minister said and trying to understand or interpret my own thoughts and my original intention make me think that I would rather look at the Minister's answer before making a decision as to whether Clause 72 should stand part of the Bill. Therefore at this stage I am grateful to the Minister for his amendments.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

Before the noble Lord decides what to do about the clause, perhaps I should just add that some of the information that has been obtained by my honourable friend Mr. Forsyth, who was in charge of education at the time of the commencement of the Bill, in relation to what might be called the Peto situation in Hungary suggested that it would be extremely valuable if this provision were included as there would be a record of assessment at a time when it is vital to try to sort out the problems that might be apparent when a child eventually arrives at a school.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am grateful to the Minister. He will realise that as I was going to oppose the clause I shall need to consider very carefully what he has said and perhaps take advice on it. However, it appears that there is very little to separate the Minister and I.

Clause 72, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 73 [Educational services: extension of power of Secretary of State to make grants]:

On Question, Whether Clause 73 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I have one little point to make which is not unimportant in moving that Clause 73 do not stand part of the Bill. I hope the Minister can clarify the statement that the Secretary of State may make grants to persons: other than education authorities, universities acid managers of educational establishments". I may be rather dull but I cannot think of many other groups which are involved in education and which come within the compass of this Bill to whom the Secretary of State would be empowered to make grants. Does the Minister envisage the establishment of some private agencies which would be given grants to provide these educational services? The only reason that I move that Clause 73 does not stand part of the Bill is to obtain clarification on that point.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

Under Section 73 of the 1980 Act the Secretary of State has a range of powers to pay grants in accordance with regulations made by him. Section 73(d) in particular empowers him to make regulations under which he can pay grants to any persons providing education or educational services. A body providing management advice to a self-governing school would not strictly speaking be providing an educational service. It is the board of management that is providing the educational service in running the school and educating the pupils. Any advisory body would be providing an ancillary service, a necessary support to education. This clause widens the scope of Section 73(d), as the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said to include the payment of grant for such services. There will be a need for such a body offering management advice and perhaps co-ordinating certain central services for self-governing schools, particularly in the initial years. It is appropriate that my right honourable friend should be able to offer financial assistance and this clause should stand part of the Bill.

The noble Lord will know that the Scottish Consumer Council has produced a paper on self-governing schools entitled Self-Governing Schools: Advice and Information for Parents. The Government are considering the proposals from the council; but it must be made very clear that taxpayers' money must be used for neutral information. However, the proposal in the Bill is to give the Secretary of State powers to pay grants so that if educational services are provided by a body other than that specified there would be power so to do.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I thank the Minister for that explanation. I should have thought that the managers of educational establishments would have some training in this matter, although I accept that frequently one has to go outside a particular discipline in order to look at it from the outside with an impartial and fresh outlook. I can see the point of payments in that case. However, if the Minister does not mind, I shall take his reply away, think it over and consider what would be the best thing to do on Report.

Clause 73 agreed to.

Clause 74 [Appointment of teachers]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 105: Page 51, line 5, at end insert ("subject to such exceptions as may from time to time be prescribed").

The noble Lord said: This amendment refers to the obligation contained in Clause 74 of this Bill, as an amendment to Section 87 of the 1980 Act. Clause 74 brings in a new Section 87A, which states: Where an education authority intends to fill a post, other than on an acting basis, of a principal teacher in a school, they shall advertise the post in such publications circulating throughout Scotland as they consider appropriate". The amendment adds the words: subject to such exceptions as may from time to time be prescribed".

It may be a matter of interpretation. However, it may be read that the present wording means that an education authority would have to advertise nationally throughout Scotland, although I appreciate that the clause reads: in such publications circulating throughout Scotland as they consider appropriate". If the Minister were to give an undertaking that there is no obligation on a local authority to advertise on a truly national basis, in the national newspapers, that would meet the point.

If the provision is to be read as an obligation to advertise nationally every principal teacher post the costs could be horrendous. For example, it has been estimated that Strathclyde region would run up costs of £ 135,000 a year, possibly to little effect. At present there is a variety of practice among the authorities in Scotland, some of which first circulate notices of appointments within their own departments so that staff will be aware that a principal teacher post is available. Strathclyde region operates a system whereby any teacher can write to the education authority for a list of available posts.

This is therefore a probing amendment. We wish to be assured there is no intention to impose compulsory national advertising on education authorities throughout Scotland. If the Minister can give the Committee an assurance that it is to be a discretionary power to advertise in the best way possible that might meet the point.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

This is a very sensible amendment in that in the favoured district of Angus the Dundee Courier and Advertiser is probably the cheapest and most widely read newspaper and could well bring results without the need to advertise in more expensive newspapers firth of the area.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

Those last remarks are a very good advertisement for the Dundee Courier and Advertiser.

The amendment deals with principal teacher posts, which are important posts. It implies that there could be grounds for exempting certain teaching posts from the general requirement to advertise posts. I am not convinced that there is a case for doing so. Nor am I persuaded that central government should be involved in prescribing criteria to allow such exceptions to take place. We have been forced to introduce the requirement because certain education authorities seem determined to pursue unenlightened recruitment policies and restrict opportunities to internal candidates. That cannot be in the best interests of the profession or of the education of our school children. I do not think that there can be exceptions to the principle.

The noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, asked whether national advertising was necessary. It is intended that those important posts should be advertised nationally. They must be advertised throughout Scotland, that is nationally, but not in all national newspapers. Therefore, the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, would cover that point.

What are the extra costs of advertising? Because of the different methods of advertising, for example, block advertising, figures are not readily available. However, the cost will be small in relation to education budgets.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, understands what is meant by nationally. There is an important balance to be struck between principal teacher posts and spreading the net wide in Scotland.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I thank the Minister for that reply. However I am not sure as yet what "nationally" means. I shall read his reply with care and consider the position before the next stage of the Bill.

Would the Minister care to name those local authorities which he regards as pursuing an unenlightened approach to the appointment of principal teachers? If he means that they do not advertise nationally that is an entirely different matter. An unenlightened approach to the appointment of a principal teacher is perhaps one which does not pay proper heed—

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. We are very concerned about internal appointments being made without the authority going firth of a particular school. That is what we wish to address.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I appreciate that that is a very restrictive way of appointing a principal teacher. I thought that the Minister was referring to an education authority as a whole being irresponsible. There may be circumstances in which an authority has a surplus of teachers and a falling school roll. There is no reason why it should not use the surplus teachers if they are suitably qualified and pass the requisite examination for selection. There is no reason why they could not appoint such a teacher without going to the trouble of advertising nationally throughout Scotland. I heard what the Minister had to say and shall consider it with care. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 74 agreed to.

Clause 75 agreed to.

Clause 76 [Remuneration of certain persons employed in providing school education]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 106: Page 51, line 41, leave out from beginning to ("to") in line 42 and insert ("bodies representative of any group of persons to whom this section applies and those employing them agree").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak also to Amendment No. 107.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that, if head teachers are excluded from the existing Joint National Council, what will take its place is voluntary collective bargaining machinery comprising organisations representing head teachers and local authorities but excluding the Scottish Education Department. That will prevent the Secretary of State from imposing negotiating machinery or some other mechanism. The pattern of collective bargaining machinery in local government, apart from that for teachers and police, is for voluntary machinery. If head teachers are taken out of the existing SJNC, that is what should replace it.

The Scottish Education Department should be excluded. Government departments are again represented only on the bodies for teachers and police. They are not the employers and should not be in a position to dictate the terms and conditions to be agreed between the employers, the local authorities, and their employees, the head teachers. I beg to move.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

The purpose of Clause 76 and Schedule 10 of the Bill is to give my right honourable friend enabling powers to remove a group or groups of persons from the ambit of the SJNC negotiating machinery. That was in response to representations made by the hind teachers associations who did not consider that their interests were being properly represented by the teacher unions on the SJNC.

Should the enabling powers be taken, it would be for the group or groups of person who seek removal from the SJNC ambit to agree with their employers the format of alternative new negotiating machinery. The amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, would have the effect of prescribing that only representative or union bodies should have the right to negotiate with the employers on this matter. Although in practice something along those lines is likely to occur, the Government do not wish to circumscribe the emergence of separate machinery, insisting on it being negotiated through union channels.

The Bill as currently drafted would not prevent groups of persons seeking to have the separate pay negotiation machinery conducted on their behalf by representative bodies. It is the Government's view, however, that a decision on that detailed point should rest in the first instance with the group or groups of persons involved. In the light of that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will consider withdrawing his amendment.

However, the noble Lord mentioned in conclusion that the Scottish Education Department should be excluded from those matters. We are not prescribing new machinery. It may be that the SED will not participate. That will be for discussion with teachers and employers.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I thank the Minister for that reply. We all know that, whether the SED is involved or not, it is a spectre at any feast concerning wages and conditions. The Minister again seems to be hoping that what is being suggested here is the sort of thing that will happen. Obviously he cannot give a guarantee, but he has given sufficient to enable me to consult the people who are particularly concerned on what is a tricky piece of negotiating machinery and trade union-Government-local authority relationships and come back, if necessary, at Report stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 107 not moved.]

Clause 76 agreed to.

Clauses 77 to 79 agreed to.

Clause 80 [Interpretation]:

Lord Sanderson of Bowden moved Amendment No. 108: Page 53, leave out lines 46 to 48 and insert — (""parent", in relation to a child or young person, includes his guardian and any person who is liable to maintain, or has the actual custody of, the child or young person except that in sections 3, 13 and 30 and Schedules 3 and 7 (and in the expression "parent member", which is defined by subsection (1)(a) of the said section 3 but which also includes persons becoming such members by virtue of section 19(2) of this Act) it does not include any person other than a natural person;"). The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 108 and speak to Amendment No. 109. These amendments define "parent" and "pupil" for the purposes of this Bill. Clause 80(2) provides that any relevant definitions contained in the 1980 or 1988 Acts be applied to this Bill. However, these Acts contain different definitions of parent and pupil. As regards the terms "parent", the 1988 definition is restricted to natural persons and therefore excludes institutions such as the social work services or Dr. Barnardo's who may be in loco parentis. The purpose of the amendment is to invoke the wider definition of parent for general purposes but to adopt the more restrictive definition of the 1988 Act for the purposes of ballots and elections.

As regards the term "pupil" the 1988 Act definition does not include any person over the age of 18, whereas the 1980 Act defines "pupil" used without qualification as a person of any age for whom education is, or is required to be, provided whether in relation to schools or other educational establishments. The amendment adopts the 1988 definition.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

We have discussed this definition of parent at length on previous occasions. I am not clear where the Bill stands in relation to the definition. We have the definition: includes his guardian and any person who is liable to maintain, or has the actual custody of, the child". If two parents of a child divorce and remarry and the child is in the custody of one or other set of grandparents, does that mean for the purposes of the Bill that the child has six parents? If so, does it mean that the six parents can set up the process for the opting out procedure, which would mean that only five families could be involved in setting in train the opting out procedure to get the necessary 30 persons? It seems an extraordinary proposition.

Could the Minister also tell the Committee which one of the six parents will be on the list kept by the local authorities under, I think, Schedule 1 of the local authorities Act? Are all six parents going to be registered for the electoral roll in the local authority offices, as the local authority has a statutory duty to maintain a list, or are we just going to end up in a shambles with the situation of perhaps one parent registered in the local authority office, six parents all with varying interests in the child, and then power in one of the schedules for the board to decide who is a parent for the purposes of the Act? The child might never find out who his parent is under this definition.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

I had a suspicion that the noble Lord would return to the question of parents, and in the meantime I have had a look at the whole question myself. I should just like to take this time to explain it because it is an important point, and the law of averages will of course work out in the end.

The term "parent" should be defined for the purposes of the Bill as we define it in Amendment No. 108, to which I have just spoken. The aim is that the list of those qualified to vote in a ballot should include all with a direct interest in the welfare of the pupils at the school. This goes beyond the two natural parents in some cases, as the noble Lord suggests. A regrettably common situation will be the case of a child whose natural parents are divorced and who is in the custody of his remarried, natural mother and stepfather but who also makes frequent visits to his natural father. Those adults, who all have a parental role in respect of the child, are likely to take an interest in his education, and indeed they should be expected and encouraged to accept that responsibility.

It will be relatively rare however for a child to have more than three parents, albeit that in theory a greater number than that could be recognised as such. Much will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. Equally it could be observed that the voting rights of parents will not vary in line with the number of children they have in attendance at the school in question. Two parents with five children will have two votes between them, one vote each in respect of their status as parents.

Depending on the context under the Bill, it will be either for the school board or the board of management to determine who is a parent for the purposes of voting rights. In making any such determination a board will have to observe the general principles of the law that they should act reasonably and not in an arbitrary or unfair manner. The very complexity of some family arrangements may make the task of determining who is a parent a difficult one. But this is an area where flexibility in the application of the law is highly desirable if a fair result is to be achieved as regards the recognition of those who should have a say in the upbringing of a child. The Committee may recollect that even Solomon at times had difficulty with the definition of "parent".

With that explanation, the Committee will understand that I have addressed the matter. Indeed, the suspicions of the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, were not unfounded when he first raised the question.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I may have misheard the Minister. Does that mean that although technically a child can have six parents, only one parent will be entitled to vote in respect of that child?

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

It is my understanding that all will have a right. But it will be up to the board, looking at the various representations about that child, as to how many people should qualify. It could indeed be up to six. However, a husband and wife who have five children in school will have only two votes. As I understand it, that is the equitable way of dealing with this difficult matter.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

I am obliged to the Minister for that clarification.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden moved Amendment No. 109: Page 54, line 6, at end insert (" "pupil" has the same meaning as in the 1988 Act;").

Clause 80, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 81 [Commencement]:

Lord Sanderson of Bowden moved Amendments Nos. 110 to 118: Page 54, line 27, at end insert ("Part II except section 67;"). Page 54, line 28, after ("sections") insert ("69(1) and (2),"). Page 54, line 28, leave out ("75") and insert ("72 to 76"). Page 54, line 30, after ("(6),") insert ("(8) to"). Page 54, line 30, after ("(10)") insert ("and"). Page 54, line 30, leave out from ("(12)") to ("(20)") in line 31 and insert ("to"). Page 54, line 32, leave out ("Part II,") and insert ("Schedule 11 and"). Page 54, line 32, leave out second ("Part") and insert ("Parts II and"). Page 54, line 33, leave out ("and Schedule 11").

The noble Lord said: These amendments alter some of the commencement arrangements for the various provisions of the Bill. Part II, Clauses 54 to 66, on further education colleges, will now come into force immediately on enactment. This is necessary in order to allow time for regulations and directions to be made and authorities and colleges informed of their contents well before the deadline of 1st April for appointment of the new college councils.

Other provisions which under the Bill at present would come into force immediately do not require such early commencement and should therefore be subject to commencement orders; namely, Clause 69(1) and (2), testing in primary schools; Clause 72, further amendment of the 1980 Act in respect of recorded children; Clause 73, educational services—extension of the powers of the Secretary of State to make grants; Clause 74, appointment of teachers; Clause 76, remuneration of certain persons employed in providing school education; and Schedule 10, paragraphs 8(8), 8(9), 8(14) and 8(19). These are technical amendments to the 1980 Act. I beg to move.

Clause 81, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 82 agreed to.

Schedule 10 [Minor and Consequential Amendments]:

Lord Sanderson of Bowden moved Amendment No. 119: Page 73, line 5, at end insert— ("(1A) In section 1(5) (interpretation), in paragraph (c)—

  1. (a) after the word "child" there shall be inserted the words "who has attained school age"; and
  2. (b) at the end there shall be added the words "and in relation to any other child means such educational provision as is appropriate to those needs".").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to Amendment No. 119 when moving Amendment No. 104. I beg to move.

The Duke of Norfolk moved Amendment No. 119A: Page 74, line 8, leave out from beginning to end of line 21 and insert— ("and (b) for the words from ": Provided that—" to "(ii) subject" there shall be substituted the words— (2A) A teacher appointed to any post on the staff of any such school by the education authority shall satisfy the Secretary of State as to qualification and shall require either—

  1. (a) to be approved as regards his religious belief and character by representatives of the church or denominational body in whose interest the school is managed; or
  2. (b) if they decline to give such approval, to have his appointment consented to by the representatives.
(2B) Where as respects a proposed appointment the representatives—
  1. (a) decline to give the approval mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (2A) above they shall state in writing their reasons for so declining; and
  2. (b) where they also withhold the consent mentioned in paragraph (b) of that subsection they shall include in the statement their reasons for so doing.
(2C) Subject".").

The noble Duke said: Section 21, which dates from 1918, gives denominational bodies a power of approval over the appointments of teachers to denominational schools. This approval is in terms of the candidate's religious character and belief. As it is worded, Section 21 appears to relate to appointment to the staff of a school. In other words, once appointed to a particular school, a given teacher would be able to move from post to post without further approval being necessary. But if a teacher moved between schools, whether on promotion or not, approval would again be required.

This matter was the subject of consultation with education authorities and teachers' associations in 1985. It was widely agreed that the position was illogical and that approval should attach to appointment to a post. In other words, on each occasion when a teacher sought appointment—whether on moving between schools or on promotion within a school—approval should be required. It was also widely agreed that the denominational body should be required to state its reasons for withholding approval so that an individual could challenge any decision if he or she believed it to be unfair.

After discussion with the Catholic hierarchy, the Government agreed to amend Section 21 in this sense. The necessary amendment is included in Schedule 10 at paragraph 8(6).

The hierarchy and the Catholic commission also proposed that the section be further amended to allow for the case of teachers who might require to be appointed but whom the denominational body would be unqualified to approve as to religious character and belief. For practical purposes this would mean non-Catholic teachers filling vacancies in a denominational school for which there was no suitable Catholic applicant. The proposal was that the denominational body should be empowered to consent to such appointments.

This proposal had not been the subject of formal consultation. It was therefore not considered appropriate for this matter to be included in the Bill as published. The Catholic Education Commission agreed to undertake an informal consultation on the proposal and to seek support for an appropriate amendment to Schedule 10 which could be considered at Committee stage. This amendment allows for approval or consent attaching to an appointment to a post. I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

Before the Minister responds to my noble friend's amendment, I should like to say a word about the specific aspects of this part of the Bill as it relates to the hierarchy having to give written reasons why it is refusing approval, if it is so doing. If this amendment were to be accepted would it affect the Bill in that respect? I should also like to ask that question of my noble friend. I regard this as important and I shall briefly tell the Committee why. For a long time the law of Scotland has required that when a new teacher came to a church school the religious authorities should approve or disapprove the new appointment as regards the teacher's religious beliefs and character. However, until now there has been no requirement that the teacher should be given any reason for the decision. During my time as education committee chairman in Tayside I was greatly concerned that in the case of Roman Catholic schools the hierarchy took the view that when a Roman Catholic teacher applied for a promoted post, if he or she had children who could have been sent to a local Roman Catholic school but were being sent to a non-denominational school, the Church would block the appointment. That seemed to me to be unfortunate in two ways. It was a limitation on the individual liberty of teachers and, most important, it was depriving Roman Catholic schools of some of their potentially best teachers in senior posts.

I know that the practice has recently been challenged by one teacher. With the Church's approval she was appointed as assistant head of a Dundee Roman Catholic primary school. That was approved by the hierarchy. While in post she became concerned that her children, who attended the local Roman Catholic secondary school, were not being sufficiently stretched. Therefore, she exercised her free choice to take them away from that school and send them to Dundee High School, a non-denominational school. Nowadays it is a fee-paying school but that fact was irrelevant.

When she applied to be head of her primary school, where she was already assistant head, the Church stated that she was not suitable and blocked the appointment. Supported by her priest, the teacher appealed to the Secretary of State for Scotland and he upheld her case. Schedule 10 of the Bill as it stands requires that if a church does not approve an appointment the reasons must be given in writing. My noble friend explained that matter. That appears to be exactly what is required in fairness to any teacher. He or she needs to know the reason why the appointment is being blocked.

I wish to ask the Minister and my noble friend whether the amendment contains any provision which will result in the Roman Catholic teachers losing the new right provided in the Bill. I regard the matter as being absolutely crucial. Should the amendment be accepted, I wish to be clear that it does not affect the new right in any way.

The Duke of Norfolk

I should like to reply at once. My noble friend Lady Carnegy is talking about the case of Mrs. Ruddy, which was considered by the hierarchy. It was annoyed that she had removed her children from a Roman Catholic school but she was promoted to head of the Catholic school where she was an under-teacher. She still holds that post.

The amendment was drafted by the Scottish Office with the assistance of the Catholic hierarchy. It has the approval of the Scottish Office. There is no question of attempting to limit the freedom of Catholic teachers. There is no question of resisting any attempt to be fair. If a case is considered to be in need of further investigation, the hierarchy is prepared to go to arbitration, to have a tribunal appointed or to go to a court of law.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

. The noble Duke has put forward a reasonable case. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, has illustrated a disturbing case and therefore the issue must be looked at. I received this amendment only yesterday and am sure that the Committee will realise that it is very important. I have asked for advice, but have received none. At this point I am relying on the Minister's answer. When I receive that, I shall consider that along with everything else that has been said in this debate. I shall confer with people from all groups in my part of the West of Scotland over the weekend and I hope to make a decision on this matter on Report. I do not feel qualified to make such a decision at this point but I hope to do so at the next stage of the Bill.

9.45 p.m.

The Earl of Perth

It seems to me that the important point made by the noble Duke was that the Scottish Office and the hierarchy are in agreement. Therefore, there is nothing hole in the corner about this amendment. Of course, while I understand the problems that can arise, surely it is in everybody's best interests that reasons for objecting, or indeed not allowing, should be made public. That must be good, rather than matters being kept under cover, as it were.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I am in the same position as the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. However, the point to make on what the noble Baroness said is that in that case the Secretary of State played a very important part and it was on appeal to him that the lady in question became the head teacher. For that we must bless the provisions which give the Secretary of State power to do that.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

I should like to answer this point as fully as I can. Perhaps I may say to my noble friend the Duke that the approval of the Scottish Office, which he mentioned, concerned the support sought by the hierarchy that the amendment was technically accurate. I must say that no undertaking was given by the Scottish Office as to the acceptability of the policy as such, and I think that is an important point at this stage.

Perhaps I can also answer my noble friend Lady Carnegy on whether this amendment has any damaging effect on the provisions already included in Schedule 10, on which the noble Duke has elaborated and which is already on the face of the Bill. The answer to that is no. My noble friend's amendment repeats the essential features of paragraph 6 of Schedule 10. I am satisfied that the revised procedure for denominational approval which we are providing would work as well in terms of this amendment as it would under the existing terms of the Bill.

My noble friend's amendment seeks to add a further level of procedure in addition to the power of approval which dates back to the Act of 1918 which brought church schools in Scotland under public management. The question for us tonight is whether this new element—the power to consent to certain appointments—should be added to provisions which already command substantial support.

Members of the Committee will be aware that this is an extension of the amendment to Section 21, as I said. The amendment in the Bill as it stands deals with the historical right of denominational bodies to give approval to the appointment of staff to posts in denominational schools, as my noble friend said. The provisions in paragraph 6 of Schedule 10 to the Bill amend Section 21 of the 1980 Act to provide that approval of the appointment of a teacher should attach to appointment to a particular post rather than to the staff of a school as a whole. The provisions in Schedule 10 also require the denominational body concerned to give reasons in writing—as my noble friend Lady Carnegy said—for any decision to withhold approval. That will allow any individual affected by the decision which he or she considers unreasonable to seek redress through the courts. Both of those changes to existing law follow a consultation, as indicated by my noble friend, which was undertaken in 1985 and commands general support. It is accepted that the wording of Section 21 of the 1980 Act, which goes back to the terms of the 1918 Act which brought church shools under public management, is unsatisfactory and the proposals which the Government have already put forward make the necessary changes.

My noble friend's amendment would retain the provisions already included in paragraph 6 of Schedule 10 but would add to them a new power for denominational bodies to consent to the appointment of teachers whom they felt that they could not in conscience approve. The same requirement as is included in the Bill for approval—namely, that the denominational body should state reasons for withholding its favour in writing—would apply to the new category of consent.

It is clearly logical that a denominational body may feel unable to approve "as to religious belief and character" an otherwise entirely suitable candidate who simply does not share the denominational background of the body in whose interests the school is conducted. In that sense my noble friend's amendment is a helpful suggested addition to the existing statutory provisions.

The Government's reservation on his amendment is that the proposal to introduce the category of consent has not been the subject of formal consultation with educational interests. There is therefore no clear indication of the views of education authorities and teachers' associations, although I understand that the Association of Directors of Education has expressed reservations about the proposal for consent following its appearance on the Marshalled List. I am of course aware that the Catholic hierarchy has undertaken informal consultations and has publicised its intention to seek an amendment along the lines now proposed. However, there has been no opportunity for wide public debate on this issue, as the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said.

The Government have no wish to make the arrangements for the management of denominational education a matter of political controversy. The amendment appears to us to be technically sound and to address a logical gap in the existing statutory provisions. However, aware of the sensitivities which surround denominational issues and conscious of the fact that there has not been time for formal consultation on the proposal, I ask my noble friend to withdraw his amendment at this stage and allow me and noble Lords opposite the opportunity to seek comments on this proposal. I should be happy if my noble friend would reintroduce his amendment at Report stage and I will undertake to consider this proposal again in the light of the views expressed tonight and the comments which his amendment draws outside this House.

I feel that in this area of Scottish education we have to make haste slowly. For that reason I wish to ensure that when this matter is again discussed there is a measure of agreement across the parties rather than that it should be considered a party political matter.

The Duke of Norfolk

In view of what the Minister said and the assurance given, I certainly ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Sanderson of Bowden moved Amendment No. 120: Page 76, line 24, after ("school";") insert— ("(dd) after the definition of "school age" there shall be inserted the following definition— "school board" has the meaning assigned to it by section 1 of the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988;";").

The noble Lord said: This amends the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 to include the definition of "school board" as given in the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988 for the purposes of the 1980 Act. I beg to move.

Schedule 10, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining schedule and clause agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.