HL Deb 18 July 1994 vol 557 cc64-83

2 Clause 12, page 6, line 28, leave out from 'may' to end of line 30 and insert '—

  1. (a) provide courses of initial training for school teachers, or
  2. (b) join in a partnership or association with other eligible institutions, or (alone or jointly with other eligible institutions) establish a body, for the purpose of providing such courses.'.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2. I shall speak to Amendment No. 3 and ask the House to reject Amendment No. 2A, although it has not yet been spoken to.

It is now accepted on all sides that the particular changes made to the Bill in this House, which Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 remove, were defective. They gave to higher education the function of accreditation when—as the Opposition now accept — they intended to confer a validation function. I explained that distinction very clearly in my speech on the original amendments—but they were in any event pressed to a vote on tactical grounds, and accepted by the narrowest of margins.

I assume also for tactical reasons, the deficiencies of these amendments were not admitted by noble Lords opposite until the Bill had left this House. No further amendments to put them right came forward from the Opposition at Report stage or Third Reading—although noble Lords will recall how at Third Reading my noble friend Lord Pearson exposed the enormous confusion over just who did what to whom and in what order under the Bill as it then stood.

It was left to the other place to set matters straight— which it did by restoring the Bill to its original wording. That intention was made clear by my right honourable friend at Second Reading in the other place. It was carried out in Committee and fully endorsed at Report stage.

The objective of Clause 12 of the Bill is and was quite clear. It is to allow schools which are willing and able to offer courses of initial teacher training to do so with no more, and no less, regulation than is imposed on institutions of higher education. Higher education courses of initial teacher training must meet the Secretary of State's criteria—so must school courses. Both types of courses must be subject to inspection by Ofsted—against the same quality criteria. In all cases students leaving training must be graduates—and indeed those entering training courses run by schools must have a degree already.

Where we have always disagreed with noble Lords opposite, and continue to do so, is over whether schools must be required—not allowed, or even encouraged, but required—to run their courses in a partnership with and subject to the validation of an institution of higher education.

Of course that must be an option for schools. Most of those currently running courses have chosen to seek academic validation from higher education. But no current school-centred course—even those working very happily with a higher education institution—is a partnership in the sense that the institution is a joint provider. Indeed, while we use the word "partnership" to describe the arrangements entered into by higher education and the schools involved in school-based schemes, this does not mean a partnership where schools are joint providers. In a school-based scheme it is the higher education institution alone which provides the course and is accountable for the funds. Those responsibilities are carried by the schools involved in a school-centred scheme.

The point of principle on which we stand is that schools should be free to choose whether or not to secure validation or work in partnership—or in some looser collaboration—with higher education. We do not want to force schools to adopt one particular model— just as we shall not be forcing schools to become involved in school-centred schemes. The Bill does not impose any unnecessary constraints.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the noble Earl, Lard Russell, have tabled an amendment to these amendments which would secure such constraints. But for all the reasons I have given I ask your Lordships to join me in rejecting their amendment and agreeing with that made in the other place.

Since we last discussed these amendments, and this part of the Bill, I have visited yet again the young graduates who entered a course a year ago and have just graduated from the courses. I have to say that their courses have been outstanding. They all have secured jobs and I believe that they will be a very real addition to the teaching force.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2.—(Baroness Blatch.)



At end insert:

("(1A) In subsection (1) above, a "course of initial training for school teachers" means a course provided by an accredited institution in partnership with and validated by an institution of higher education.")

Lord Judd

My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2A as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 2.

Let me make plain that we all recognise the need to improve the partnership between schools and colleges in teacher education and training. We must be clear about that. It is essential to evaluate the pioneer work already undertaken and to take seriously the difficulties which have arisen, with some centres of higher education withdrawing because they claim the schools have not been fulfilling their role, and with some schools, including Harrow no less, withdrawing because they feel the burden on teachers at the expense of pupils' education is too great. But the challenge is to get the matter right, not to run away from a partnership which we wish to argue is essential.

In a statement which has been unequivocally endorsed by every one of the teacher associations and unions, as well as by all the institutions of higher education which provide teacher education and training, the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers states: It is vital that initial teacher education brings together the different and complementary skills and experiences of both teacher trainers and practising teachers, if we are to produce the highest quality of teachers … the initial education and training of teachers should [therefore] involve both practical and theoretical study of education. However, one of the specific roles of the proposed TTA, as originally put forward in the Bill, was to promote wholly school-centred courses—an objective which noble Lords wisely declined to accept. It is an objective which the Minister has restated today.

The Government's Amendment No. 2 seeks to re-establish that misguided intent. By the same token, the Government have yet to establish why England needs this new TTA quango at all, with all its inherent dangers of direct ministerial political manipulation. By contrast, in Wales, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales is sensibly to retain its central role in teacher education and training. Why not England? It is difficult to discern from whence the pressure for the new body with its school courses comes other than from the enigmatic and eccentric preoccupations of the Secretary of State himself. There is precious little evidence of any significant number of good schools wanting to develop their own courses.

It is peculiar to say the least, for a Government which lambasts the inadequacy of teachers, as they see it, to insist on giving preparation of new teachers to those to whom they show, totally unjustifiably, mistrust. It is a contradiction all the more underlined by the Government's refusal to countenance a general teaching council, an objective to which I am glad to say that Labour is now resolutely committed.

The point has been stressed on more than one occasion. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles—it is good to see him in his place today—spoke powerfully last year from the Benches opposite when he stressed the great need for consensus in education policy. I am afraid that on this matter, as yet —but it is not quite too late— there has been little attempt by the Government to build consensus. Indeed, there is no consensus. I would be doing a grave disservice to the House, and to those tempted to collaborate with this senseless new arrangement, if I did not make it categorically clear that, as now put forward, with the responsibilities as outlined in the Bill, the TTA will be abolished, scrapped, by the incoming Labour Government after we take office. We see the TTA in its specified role as a dangerous undermining of the quality of our future teachers and of the status and self respect of the profession, and as a threat to the future of our entire school system.

Teaching is a complex and demanding profession. Teachers need to be broadly and well educated, and to be well briefed on related disciplines. Graduate status, to which the Minister referred, vital in itself, does not confer a sound understanding of child development. The National Commission on Education, under the distinguished leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, put it well when it said: Among the strongest arguments for substantial higher education involvement in teacher education are the independence of universities and colleges and their commitment to inquiry and scrutiny of established practices and ideas". But it was not only the commission. Ofsted's report, The New Teacher, in 1993 firmly recommended that it is necessary to establish strong and effective partnerships between schools and higher education institutes together with thorough monitoring and evaluation procedures. It is very illuminating to read the Department for Education Circular 9/92 requiring students on secondary initial teacher training to spend at least 24 weeks in school. It stated: The Government expects that partner schools in higher education institutions will exercise a joint responsibility for the planning and management of courses for the selection, training and assessment of students. The balance of responsibilities will vary. Schools will have a leading responsibility for training students to teach their specialist subjects, to assess pupils and to manage classes; and for supervising students and assessing their competence in these respects. Higher education institutions will be responsible for ensuring that courses meet the requirements for academic validation, presenting courses for accreditation, awarding qualifications to successful students and arranging student placements in more than one school". It is that last paragraph in the DFE circular which interests me most and which is highly pertinent to the amendment before us. Higher education institutions are given responsibility for course validation and for presenting courses for accreditation.

Much has been made by the Government of the difference between validation and accreditation. In Committee in the other place, the Minister quoted the chairman of the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education who has described validation as: The approval by a provider or by an external body of a course of training for the purpose of making an academic award". He described accreditation as: official recognition of a provider or a course of study for purposes of professional qualification". I broadly accept those definitions, but meanwhile we still have very little, if any evaluation of the pilot schemes for school-centred courses. What we know is that there is a possibility of multiple courses offered by schools, especially those in a consortium. Accreditation of courses, not just accreditation of schools as institutions, becomes essential. Otherwise how, for example, would the holders of a certificate awarded by a South Huntingdon consortium, should it exist, feel when schools fail to shortlist them for appointments because those schools do not recognise the certificate's currency?

Your Lordships attempted to cover that with the amendment that accreditation should be by institutions of higher education. The Government evidently find that unhelpful. So be it. Let us try to be helpful. In response to criticisms through amendments in debate, the Government have indeed elaborated on how they believe the Bill will work in practice. Ofsted is to have a clearer role to inspect, monitor and advise the TTA and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The Bill now ensures that only courses run by accredited institutions could lead to qualified teacher status.

With those assurances—and I hope the Minister will note this carefully—we accept Amendment No. 3 and will not press the issue of course accreditation. Indeed, we shall support Amendment No. 2 as well, if the Minister agrees to accept our amendment. Our Amendment No. 2A makes it absolutely clear that a school has to be accredited before providing such courses.

Certainly the Bill ensures that qualified teacher status will only be afforded to those students completing courses at accredited institutions. But no matter how small the risk seems at present, the Bill does not prevent schools providing their own courses, perhaps sponsored, which do not confer qualified teacher status, but which may be used, for example, by independent schools. This would be totally unacceptable. It would be an unjustifiable distraction from the responsibility of the school to its pupils. Our amendment ensures schools may provide courses of initial teacher training only if they are accredited. I am sure noble Lords will agree that that closes a potentially dangerous loophole.

However, more fundamentally, we believe it is essential that with a partnership between school and higher education, a course is validated by the institution of higher education. The amendment does not give the upper hand to higher education. Not at all. The school is likely to initiate the provision of such courses and will therefore take the lead role. The higher education institution will then be able to offer its experience, expertise and facilities to advise the school in setting up the course. I emphasise again that the TTA will have accredited the school in any such partnership.

Our amendment in no way prevents an increase in school-based initial teacher training. Nor does the amendment prevent consortia from providing courses for such training. We are not pressing for a return to the Bill as amended by this House. However, our amendment, of course, retains the core principle of partnership, a principle which, in all seriousness I put to the House, has yet to be countered by any coherent argument. With validation by higher education as the minimum basis for partnership, our amendment brings security to students undertaking the new courses. Incidentally, a full partnership will also ensure that the academic and welfare support provided by higher education institutions, to a degree schools cannot hope to match, will be available to students.

The national curriculum requires teachers to give children a broad and balanced curriculum. The way to achieve this is surely schools working in partnership with higher education. Therefore, even at this stage, as an indication of good will and a determination to build a constructive consensus for the future of our education system, I hope that, notwithstanding what she said in her introductory remarks, the Minister will feel able to accept our amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether I could ask him a question. He said that he was prepared to accept Amendment No. 2 so long as the Government accept Amendment No. 2A. As they are wholly contradictory, would he explain to the House how that can be? Amendment No. 2 proposes to ensure that schools can operate alone without higher education involvement. Amendment No. 2A secures higher education involvement.

Lord Judd

My Lords, if I may just respond to that, with the leave of the House, as I said, we keep the whole principle of partnership as central to our amendment and we therefore unashamedly see it as an important point to be accepted if we are to go along with the amendments which the Minister has put forward.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, perhaps I may reply, as this is very important. If we are to send the Bill back to the other place for further consideration tonight, it is absolutely essential that we send them something which makes sense. Amendment No. 2 reverses the need for school-based teacher training courses to become involved in any way other than by voluntary means with higher education. Amendment No. 2A requires that as a condition, and it will be a legal requirement within the Bill. The two are wholly contradictory. Does the noble Lord suggest that we send both amendments back to the House of Commons?

Lord Judd

My Lords, I am saying that if the House accepts our Amendment No. 2A then we will not press a vote on Amendment No. 2.

Earl Russell

My Lords, listening to that exchange, I cannot help thinking of my favourite quotation from Brakenbury in Richard III: With this, my lord, myself have nought to do". I oppose Amendment No. 2 and support Amendment No. 2A. Degrees are like currencies. They are worth what they can be exchanged for. The difference which governments can make to that, though it exists, is small and often smaller than governments choose to think.

Part I of the Bill has been and remains intensely controversial. All the praise which has been given, in my opinion rightly, to the work done on the Bill in this House relates to Part II of the Bill. Part I remains as controversial as it was on the day when it was first put forward. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Judd, repeat the commitment to repeal Part I when, or if, he comes into office. That commitment was made by the Liberal Democrats before it was made by him and we are in complete agreement about it.

Where we have a Bill as controversial as this and we are considering the last nuts and bolts, it is worth considering those nuts and bolts so far as we can with an open mind about who is right and what the effect would be in either eventuality. If the Government are right and school-centred teacher training is capable of taking off and achieving a high standard without support, then the university validation would be no more than at worst a small irritation. It would not be insupportable.

However, supposing that we are right in our misgivings about what this would do to the standards of teacher education. Then Amendment No. 2A would be extremely important to preserving the standard of the qualification that is given and—a point that will be quite important to many people —to preserving the career prospects of those who have that qualification.

I have not forgotten the story from before the war of the man who applied to do postgraduate work at Oxford. He was asked: "What is your degree?". He replied: "BA, Albuquerque, New Mexico". He looked at the paper on which the man opposite him was writing. Seen upside down, it looked remarkably as if he were writing, "No degree". We do not want that situation to happen. It would be extremely unfair on the candidates who would come out of this system.

Nevertheless, it is an area in which governments have to accept that their control is limited. However hard they try to enact that one qualification shall be regarded as equal to another, I think we all know how difficult that is to achieve in practice. With the university validation, I believe that it would be achieved. If there is to be a future in school-centred teacher training, then it should get off on the right foot. If it is a good thing, it will grow; and if not, it will not. Otherwise, what we are doing is a bit like enacting that £1 shall be worth 5 dollars. We can make that the law, but it will not happen.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, the Minster seemed to be in some confusion as to the implications of this side of the House accepting Amendment No. 2 and her side accepting Amendment No. 2A. I wonder whether I may try to explain the situation from my humble understanding in a way that perhaps she might understand. I take, as it were, as my text my own experience. I did a degree course at Portsmouth Polytechnic. At that time Portsmouth Polytechnic did not have degree conferring powers. My degree was externally validated by the Council for National Academic Awards. The council had no involvement in the running of the course at Portsmouth Polytechnic. It effectively oversaw the course. It is interesting that some years later Portsmouth Polytechnic has become a university with its own degree conferring powers, but that was some years later.

I suggest that it could be possible for totally school-based training to produce adequately trained teachers. But surely in the initial period, for the first number of years—it may take quite a number of years for that situation to become readily understood and accepted—it is only sensible to ensure that the school-based training is validated by a university or equivalent. On that basis Amendments Nos. 2 and 2A would seem to be eminently sensible running together.

The Lord Bishop of Lichfield

My Lords, I just want to mention that Church colleges of higher education currently train between a quarter and one-third of all our teachers. I therefore want to express the conviction of my colleagues that teacher training should be firmly rooted as part of the higher education sector and not cast out into some sort of new tertiary system that is run by schools in isolation. Instead, we want to encourage the involvement of schools in teacher education and training in partnership with higher education institutions, which can bring a wealth of experience and a depth of learning. We would like to build on and extend the very promising partnerships that have increasingly become a feature of the teacher training scene in recent years.

Lord Skidelsky

My Lords, I should like to oppose Amendment No. 2A to Clause 12, which is designed to try to reinstate the original amendment that was carried in this House by the emphatic majority of two.

As I understand it, there are two reasons for the Government's policy and it is worth restating them. First, it is to open up an alternative route into the teaching profession for those with a more varied background than that of people who enter the profession now. Secondly, it is to offer a form of teacher training which is more practical and less theoretical than much of what is on offer at the moment. I support both those aims.

Here is an argument for the first. Since 1988, the numbers of those taking and gaining A-levels in maths and physics has dropped between a quarter and one-third. That is a pretty catastrophic fall. One recognised reason for that is the shortage of qualified maths and science teachers. The Government's proposals offer a way of encouraging that kind of teacher. Perhaps—perish the thought!—some of them are put off by the dogmatism of much established initial teacher education. Are we to say to such people that they are not to be allowed to become teachers? Secondly, surely we can all agree by now that the role of education theory as the basis for good teaching practice has been greatly over-sold. Teachers should certainly be encouraged to reflect on what they are doing. No one sensible can deny that. But reflection should not be equated with uncritical ingestion of theory. Too many teachers have been sold too many pups over the past 20 years, to the detriment of many pupils.

It is alleged that the Government aim to deprofessionalise teachers. I really do not know what to make of that. First, as has been stressed ad nauseam by my noble friend the Minister, Clause 12 is an enabling clause only. No school has to offer a teacher training course. No graduate has to apply for one. In fact, no school will offer such a course unless there is a demand. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, said that there is no demand. What is his problem then? There will be no takers. On the other hand, if there is a demand and it is not supplied, we run the risk of cutting out of the profession precisely those graduates whom we need to make good the shortfall in the supply of maths and science teachers about which I spoke earlier.

I am afraid that it is also true that every skilled occupation since the beginning of civilisation has had a vested interest in limiting entry. That is the essence of the guild system. The argument has always been that limiting entry preserves standards. That it also prevents new ideas and new practices from spreading is not heard so often. So we should apply the appropriate discount to that kind of argument.

Before I sit down, perhaps I may refer to one passage in the CVCP briefing which says that: The career progression of those trained on non-validated courses may suffer". That sounds to me very much like a veiled threat. I hope that it was not intended as such. If university graduates are denied promotion and responsibility, however well they teach, because they have not gone through the hoops that are recognised by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, that would be a very serious situation not only for the reputation of teaching but also for the future of our pupils. I strongly support the Government in resisting the amendment.

Viscount Eccles

My Lords, I was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and I feel that I ought to make my position clear. I have a great deal of sympathy with the amendment proposed by the noble Lord but I am not absolutely sure that it is necessary. That is what I want to find out now.

There are two ways of improving teacher training. One is by administrative acts—through more courses in the schools, and leave out universities. The other is by means of the partnership which the noble Lord wanted and which I want too. We ought not to weaken the link between the schools and the universities for a rather different reason than has so far been given. I believe that it is a moral or psychological link—I do not know which is the right word to use.

Let us imagine a promising young man who is trying to make up his mind about the career upon which he should now embark and spend his useful working life. He will ask himself: "Shall it be the law, medicine, accountancy, the Civil Service or teaching? I did well at school and I am told that I am cut out for a professional career. I like the idea of teaching. So does the girl that I am going to marry. We both want to be teachers. But we do want our families to be in the same kind of social position as the families of doctors and lawyers. Now we hear that one of the ways by which we thought we could attain that professional status—closer relationship with higher education—will now be weakened".

If that is the case, the Government should change their policy. With the Bill as now drafted, the Government, if they so wanted, could strengthen the partnership; that is to say, they could strengthen both sides—the in-school teaching and the validation by the universities, and no doubt it needs a lot of improvement—and build up that double partnership. If that is possible under the Bill and if the noble Baroness will give an undertaking that the policy of the Government is not in any way to weaken the link between the schools and higher education, I shall be satisfied. If she cannot give that undertaking, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd, goes into the Lobby, I shall go with him.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I put my name to this amendment but I should like to make only a few remarks. In answer to my noble friend Lord Eccles, the Government have declared their intention to allow—or indeed their desire to see flourish—courses in schools which are not connected with higher education. On my reading of the Bill, which is probably that of most people, as well as the debates both in this House and in another place, the demand of the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, cannot be satisfied within the text of the Bill because it clearly allows schools or consortia of schools to put forward courses for teachers without any higher education partnership.

I find the arguments of my noble friend Lord Skidelsky quite extraordinary. I cannot see any reason to believe that it is a restriction on the kind of people who might wish to enter teaching as a profession to indicate the normal route to achieving their goal. I agree with him about the need for more teachers of mathematics and science. Why should someone with such talents, which perhaps have been exercised in another walk of life, not agree to something which in fact is no different from taking a further piece of training because he resents the idea that in some way he would be associated with a university? Perhaps such a person exists in the noble Lord's imagination but he escapes mine.

I do not believe that we are talking about a restrictive practice. Let me take an obvious example. The medical profession would not say: "We will not bother about physiology and such matters. Let the students go into a hospital and learn that in the wards". We do not refuse the demand from the medical profession that the basic sciences should be acquired as well as the practical training with patients. The provision is not a matter of limiting entry for some guild principle; it is establishing the kind of training that is thought desirable. This House thought it desirable that there should be joint responsibility between institutions of higher education and schools. I cannot see why that is in any sense a restrictive practice.

I differ from the noble Lord, Lord Judd, since I do not believe that either he or the noble Earl, Lord Russell, is likely to be in a position to reverse the legislation of the present Government in the next Parliament. I am concerned only that we should get the legislation right because we shall probably continue to be the governing party. Therefore, I think it is rather deplorable that in this respect there seems to be on the part of the Government an unwillingness to accept what is apparently the overwhelming consensus among all levels of the educational profession on this matter. Why do they wish to ignore the clearly expressed views of the universities and the views of many schools expressed both verbally and in their actions? Why do they not wish to seek general assent to what they are doing throughout the educational profession? Why do they not, therefore, ignoring the party points which may have been made by noble Lords opposite, simply accept a return to what this House originally decided?

5.45 p.m.

Lord Elton

My Lords, many of your Lordships may be in the dilemma that I am in, which has been almost but not quite resolved by my noble friend Lord Eccles. The dilemma is that over the years some teacher training colleges have developed a theoretical approach to education which has not resulted in the improvement of teaching that was expected of it. I do not want to overstate the case, but there have been some remarkable examples of that. We all have recollections of very sensible practising teachers who had the ability to imbue new arrivals into the profession with their standards and practices. We would wish that to be encouraged. I myself received a lot of education from such eminent teachers.

On the other hand, in the schools themselves there are many instances in which teaching is not of the standard that we expect. Many examples have been quoted during the earlier stages of this legislation.

The question arises as to which path one takes since either route is suspect. The choice offered to your Lordships by this amendment—or rejection of the amendment—is either to try something new or to stay where we were before under the aegis of further education.

Great as may be the weight of authority of higher education as a whole, we must consider the performance of higher education as evinced in the training of teachers over the past 10 to 15 years. I believe that it is important not to regard the issue as 100 per cent. one way or 100 per cent. the other way. We must look at what is proposed in the Bill. As my noble friend Lord Skidelsky said, this is not a mandatory requirement; it is an opportunity to be taken up by schools and students if they so wish. The extent to which it is extended as a new practice will depend on two points. One is its success or failure in practice; the other is the decision of the funding agency whether to provide more funds or less to achieve the objective.

If my noble friend is saying, "Let us put in an alternative method as an experiment and also as a sharpener to those already training teachers", that is something I find rather attractive. If it has the effect of encouraging the existing institutions to perform in a more rigorous and lively way, that must be a benefit. On the other hand, if my noble friend is coming to the House with something to sweep away the whole of the existing machinery, including that briefly but eloquently supported by the right reverend Prelate, then that would be a matter for considerable alarm.

Therefore, my noble friend on the Front Bench will determine whether a number of us follow my noble friend Lord Eccles into one Lobby or into the other, depending on the extent to which she intends the power to be used. Obviously she can only give a limited undertaking. But to my mind it has not been made clear whether we are looking for a root and branch reform, which many of us would find excessive, or for something which would improve the existing system by adding an alternative and not undermine the attractions of teaching as a profession, which my noble friend Lord Eccles rightly pointed out is something of very great value in recruitment and the maintenance of standards.

Earl Russell

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he think it possible that ideas in departments of education would change faster if there were less government pressure to change them and not more?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I am not sure that I understood the question. If I did, I am not sure that I ought to answer it.

Lord Dainton

My Lords, I should like to explain— though not at any great length—the reason I subscribe my name to Amendment No. 2A. When I look at the great professions already mentioned—medicine, engineering, science and technology generally—it is not and never has been acceptable to separate theory from practice. Each is essential to the other. My objection to what now stands as a result of the Commons amendment is that it is possible to separate the two. That must surely be wrong. For that reason I subscribe my name to the amendment—and for one other reason.

We are all concerned about the quality of the entrants to the profession. At the end of the day what is provided in education depends on the quality of the entrants and the added value given by the courses and the actual practice within the schools. I am concerned that if we introduce a system in which entry can be through school only and not validated by a university—and this must be contrary to the Government's intentions—far from attracting the better students, it will attract the poorer students. Those who are the more able will go for the university-validated courses.

That does not seem to me to be right on any count. It neither gives the experiment of school-centred education a proper test; nor, on the other hand, does it give any benefit to the system as a whole. I hope therefore, along with the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, that the Government can give the kind of reassurance mentioned. At this point I must say that in all logic Amendments Nos. 2 and 2A are not compatible.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

My Lords, I want to support the Commons amendment, being the Government's amendment in the Commons, and to express my disquiet with Amendment No. 2A.

It is important to remind ourselves that it is an experimental suggestion. There is no question that all courses from now on will be run without the involvement of higher education. Indeed, it is highly unlikely that any school or group of schools would not wish to call on the resources of higher education in order to meet the criteria for courses which the Government laid down. If one reads the criteria for the provision of courses for teacher training, it is apparent that there is no suggestion of separating theory from practice. The theory is still there; it is part of the course and most schools, even if they were operating without validation from higher education, would still wish to involve the kind of expertise which only higher education can naturally provide. The additional cherry on the top—if I may use that phrase—of university validation is not an important issue.

If we are to allow experiment; if the good schools— and only good schools would gain accreditation—wish to experiment with their own initiative and the generation of excitement in the profession; and if we are to give to the professionals in the schools some control over entry to the profession, that is a good and desirable end. Noble Lords opposite who are arguing against the Government's wish to allow schools the opportunity to experiment in this way are inconsistent with their wish for a general teaching council. The nub of the wish for a general teaching council, at best, seems to me to give more control in the teaching profession over the quality of new entrants, their training and accreditation. The school-based course would do just that; it would allow good professionals in schools to take responsibility for the training of the next generation of their colleagues. That must be a desirable end.

To my noble friend Lord Eccles I say just one thing. If the Bill were to allow people to enter the teaching profession without any contact with higher education, then I too would be prepared to vote against the Government; but it does not. Clause 14 makes absolutely clear that only those who are already graduates can enter the teaching profession. There is no question of a young woman or a young man being put off the profession of teaching because it is something which no longer carries a university degree or qualification. Of course only graduates will enter the teaching profession and Clause 14 makes that quite clear. If there is to be a much more rigorous and well-accredited course following on a degree, largely school-based, that would make it more attractive to the kind of dedicated professional that we wish to attract to improve the standards of the teaching profession. I therefore wholly support the Government's position on the matter.

Baroness Cox

My Lords, perhaps I can add a brief word of support to the Government's position to draw attention to what I think is a fallacious argument, if I may have the temerity to say so, advanced by my noble friend Lord Beloff. He draws a parallel between medical education, and the necessity for university-based education in the medical profession, and teacher education. But a fundamental difference exists between the two—and I have worked in both areas.

When we are talking about the undergraduate education of medical or nursing students, there is a body of clinically-based knowledge which is necessary for safe, competent, sensitive, clinical practice. When we are talking of teacher education I do not see a similar body of knowledge in the name of "education" which is necessary for safe, competent, efficient practice. I plead guilty to having taught some of those subjects which form part of a teacher education syllabus. For example, I would not put sociology of education in the same domain of rigour or essential nature for safe practice as I would pharmacology or physiology for medical practice. Indeed, if one talks to many of the graduates who have gone through the university courses which qualify them as teaching practitioners, they say that the great majority were a waste of time and put many of them off. The useful parts were the parts connected with apprenticeship learning in schools where they understood the nature of teaching and learnt to teach.

I can reassure my noble friend Lord Eccles that the Government's amendment is not mandatory. It is entirely a question for those people who wish to see teaching flourish; who wish to choose teaching; to choose that route which they find most appropriate both in terms of provision and choice for their own professional training. It is not mandatory; it allows diversity, experimentation and choice and the Government have got it right. I hope that the House will support the Government's proposals and reject Amendment No. 2A.

6 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, at the outset I shall address the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, who I see had the discourtesy to speak to the amendment and leave the Chamber. I do him the courtesy of replying because he posed a question that needs to be answered and placed on record.

There is an incompatibility between Amendments Nos. 2 and 2A. Amendment No. 2, as I explained, means that schools will be allowed to do teacher training where the involvement with higher education is a voluntary one. Amendment No. 2A makes it a legal requirement that there should be a link with higher education. They are incompatible. Therefore, if we send the Bill back to the House of Commons this evening with both amendments agreed, it will be a nonsense. I hope to have no part in that.

We have heard a number of arguments for compulsory higher education involvement. It is claimed that schools simply cannot offer adequate courses without any involvement from higher education institutions. But inadequate providers will not be accredited by the agency and Ofsted reports will make sure that bad provision, whether in higher education or schools, is weeded out. The recent inspectorate report which led to the closure of a university course demonstrates quite clearly that the involvement of higher education offers no absolute guarantee of quality. We are told that we should not encourage school-centred courses until we know more about how the pioneering courses have fared. But we are setting up an agency which can respond to the evidence from evaluation as it emerges. It is those who assert now, and would write it into the Bill, that such courses cannot work except under the wing of higher education who are prejudging the issue.

We are told that students who do not gain a validated qualification will not be employed. That is simply untrue. Those from the one unvalidated course currently running are gaining employment just as fast as those from other courses: indeed I would say, as I have met many of these young people, probably even faster. Schools may be more confident of students from a course run and assessed by serving teachers, and the students themselves are the best ambassadors for such courses. I visited the course in question last week and was enormously impressed, as I had been on my first visit when I met the students at the beginning of the course. I have to say that the calibre of all those involved was extremely high and qualified teachers from these courses are no less qualified under the law than those with other qualifications. However, care over recruitment leaves a great deal to be desired in much of the higher education sector.

It has been said many times—and it bears repeating— that these young people are all graduates. They are graduates in their subjects. The young people I have met have had a first-class postgraduate year of education and training. The visits that have been made throughout the year by Ofsted will form the basis of evaluation of those courses.

We are also told that schools do not want the burden of full responsibility: indeed, not only is school-centred training too much of a burden but even involvement in school-based schemes is asking too much. As my noble friend Lord Skidelsky said, if schools do not want this role it will not be thrust upon them. They are volunteers in this respect. If they want to run courses and purchase quality control, if they want to purchase validation or lectures and seminars from higher education, they can; and indeed they do. Even for the unvalidated course—the course that is being self-validated—not only has the consortium been accredited but it uses outside agencies to come in and mix theory and professional studies with the practice of teaching. It is surely impossible to justify erecting a legal barrier to any other approach on the ground that schools do not want to pass that point anyway.

Perhaps I may refer to some of the points raised during the course of the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, referred to the TTA promoting school-centred courses. I should like him to point out to me where in the Bill that is the case. The Bill never required the TTA to promote school-centred courses. It allows schools to offer such courses and it requires that the agency should establish a balance between school-based courses on the basis of quality and cost-effectiveness with other courses. What is required of the agency—this point was raised not only by my noble friend Lord Eccles but by my noble friend Lord Elton—is that it will have a real and positive role to promote teaching as a career but not specifically school-based courses. That must be a choice for the schools and for the students, subject to all the rigours of inspection and accreditation.

My noble friend Lord Eccles wants assurances. I continue to repeat the point that these young people are graduates. They have been through higher education. They have the subject competences already well established. All the Bachelor of Education courses will go through higher education. Many of the courses taking place at the moment with consortia are using higher education and all of them are using outside agencies to make sure that they cover both professional studies and teaching practices as well.

The point was also made that the Bill should in some way enhance partnerships between higher education and schools. I can say that it does just that. The Bill should secure and enhance partnerships between higher education and schools. Higher education will have a greater incentive to form genuine and responsive partnerships with schools because schools now have a real choice.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, referred to evaluation. I can say that a great deal of evaluation is going on at the moment. All of it is feeding back into my department and it will feed back to the agency when it is set up. There have been many more visits by Ofsted to the courses over the first year, and quite rightly so, than to similar postgraduate courses in higher education.

The right reverend Prelate was also worried. I hope I have given him assurances that this is just one other route into training. It does not invalidate any of the marvellous work going on in the Church colleges. Indeed, there is also a requirement on the agency to make sure that there is a balance of provision between the denominational colleges and other providers.

My noble friend Lord Skidelsky quite rightly pointed to the fact that this is an enabling measure. No school has to provide such courses. No student must apply for these courses. But what we do know is that schools are interested in providing these courses and students are interested in applying for them. Those completing the courses, contrary to what has been said by noble Lords who are concerned about these matters, are actually getting jobs and they are getting them very quickly—even before their courses end. This autumn there will be 80 schools in 13 consortia offering around 450 places. All of the courses have had more applicants than they can accept.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, made a point about separating theory from practice. I have already stated that theory is not separated from practice. Indeed, that has been reinforced by my noble friend Lady Cox. It is simply not the case. In order to pass accreditation requirements it is necessary for the schools to satisfy the accreditation requirements that they will cover the professional studies as well as the practical side of teaching. My noble friend Lord Elton also touched on the extent of school-centred courses expected by Ministers. School-centred training is postgraduate only. Undergraduate training remains a matter for higher education and partnership with schools. We have no power under the Bill to compel more school-centred training, with or without involvement with higher education. It is a matter for the schools themselves.

I am sorry to sound a note of cynicism here, but I wish that those who are so vocal in their opposition to this measure would visit some of the courses and take the trouble to learn more about them. If they did I believe that their fears would be allayed. There is a fundamental and philosophical difference between us on this matter. If we are tested in the Division Lobbies, I hope that noble Lords will agree with our colleagues in the House of Commons that this is an enabling measure and a fresh opening into teacher training. I believe that it is wholly complementary to and not in conflict with that provision of higher education.

Lord Judd

My Lords, I am grateful for that very lively reply from the Minister. Perhaps I may briefly take up several of the points which have been made in what I consider to have been a very useful debate. In her characteristically direct way the Minister has made absolutely clear the Government's determination to have courses based in schools which shall be free, if those schools so wish, of an involvement in higher education. She has not prevaricated about that. That is precisely our anxiety.

The point which has not been answered in the debate today and which still troubles me is this: what will happen, for example, in the future career patterns of teachers who have been through such courses, if the courses have not been validated by an institute of higher education so that schools in any part of the country which may be contemplating an application from one of these students will have an assurance of the academic standard which has been reached in the course? Without such validation it will be impossible for schools throughout the country to have enough insight and information about all the school courses which may crop up in any particular part of the country.

That of itself is an argument which deals very well with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, because it is an option scheme and an experiment. What will happen to the students in the future? We have a responsibility for them as well as being concerned about the academic standards which are reached. The noble Baroness, Lady Perry, made an important point and the Minister picked it up. The noble Baroness, Lady Perry, said that all the students will be acquainted with higher education in the sense that they are all graduates. But to be a graduate in geography or science is not the same as having insight into all the subjects concerned with the development of the child and the adjacent academic disciplines and the social sciences which are involved in its development. I suspect that the noble Baroness understands that point very well.

Therefore, as regards teachers, we are saying that it is essential to be certain that that person has reached the right level of learning on the subject matter of teaching itself and not simply the particular discipline on the timetable with which he or she may be concerned, such as geography or whatever.

I conclude by saying that it is validation which concerns us most. In my introductory remarks I hope I made it quite plain that in our amendments we are not suggesting for a moment that there should not be more school-based courses. We accept that point although we may have views about it. We are saying that if that happens the school should have a great deal of responsibility and all the lead responsibility for developing what is involved in the courses. We are saying that parents, governors, the rest of the profession and society as a whole should have an assurance that what happened was validated by a centre of higher education in terms of its academic status. For that reason and because that point has not been met in the reply to this debate, we must press this amendment to a vote.

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Lock wood)

My Lords, the Question is that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2, as amended. As many as are of that opinion will say "Content".

Noble Lords


The Deputy Speaker

To the contrary, "Not Content"?

Noble Lords

Not Content.

The Deputy Speaker

My Lords, I believe that the "Contents" have it.

Noble Lords


The Deputy Speaker

My Lords, I am sorry. The Question is that Amendment No. 2A, as an amendment to the Commons amendment, be agreed to.

6.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether Amendment No. 2A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 2, shall be . agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 140.

Division No.1
Addington, L. [Teller.] Attlee, E.
Airedale, L. Avebury, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Barnett, L.
Ardwick, L. Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Beloff, L. Killearn, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Lichfield, Bp.
Bottomley, L. Listowel, E.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Lockwood, B.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Carter, L. Mallalieu, B.
Castle of Blackburn, B. Mason of Barnsley, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Mayhew, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. McNair, L.
Dainton, L. Merlyn-Rees, L.
David, B. Milner of Leeds, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Molloy, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Monkswell, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Donoughue,L. Nicol, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. Park Of Monmouth, B.
Eatwell, L. Parry, L.
Falkender B Peston, L.
Gallacher, L Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Gladwyn, L. Plant of Highfield, L.
Glenamara, L. Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller] Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Halsbury, E. Russell, E.
Hampton, L. Saltoun Of Abernethy, Ly.
Hamwee, B. Sefton of Garston, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Serota, B.
Haskel, L Shepherd, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B. Sherfield, L.
Hollick, L. Stedman, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L. Strabolgi, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Howell, L. Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Tonypandy, V.
Hughes, L. Tordoff, L.
Jacques, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Jay of Paddington, B. White, B.
Jay, L. Wilberforce, L.
Jeger, B. Williams of Crosby, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Judd, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Aberdare, L. Courtown, E.
Addison, V. Cowley, E
Alexander of Tunis, E. Cox, B.
Alexander of Weedon, L. Craigavon, V.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Craigmyle, L.
Annaly, L. Cranborne, V.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Cumberlege, B.
Arran, E. Davidson, V.
Astor, V. Dean of Harptree, L.
Balfour, E. Denham, L.
Barber, L. Denton of Wakefield, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Dilhorne, V.
Blatch, B. Dixon-Smith, L.
Blyth, L. Downshire, M.
Boardman, L. Eccles, V.
Borthwick, L. Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Elton, L.
Buckinghamshire, E Ferrers, E.
Butterworth, L. Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Byron, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Cadman, L. Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Caithness, E. Glenarthur, L.
Carnock, L. Goschen, V.
Carr of Hadley, L. Gray of Contin, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B. Gray, L.
Chelmsford, V. Gridley, L.
Chesham, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Harding of Petherton, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Colwyn, L. Harmsworth, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L O'Cathain, B.
Hertford, M. Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Hives, L. Oxfuird, V.
Holderness, L. Peel E.
Hood, V. Pender, L.
Howe, E. Perry of Southwark, B.
Huntly, M. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Platt of Writtle, B.
Jenkin of Roding, L. Plummer of St Marylebone, L
Johnston of Rockport, L. Rankeillour, L.
Kenilworth, L. Rees, L.
Kenyon, L. Rennell, L.
Keyes, L. Renton, L
Kimball, L. Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Kinnoull, E. Rodney, L.
Leigh, L. Romney, E.
Liverpool, E. Seccombe, B.
Long, V. Skelmersdale, L.
Lucas, L. Skidelsky, L
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L. St. Davids, V.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor] Stewartby, L
Stockton, E
MacLehose of Beoch, L Stodart of Leaston, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Strange, B.
Mancroft, L. Strathclyde, L.
Marlesford, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E. [Teller.]
Masham of Ilton, B.
Massereene and Ferrard, V. Sudeley, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Merrivale, L. Trumpington, B.
Mersey, V. Ullswater, V. [Teller.]
Miller of Hendon, B. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Monteagle of Brandon, L. Vivian, L.
Mottistone, L. Wade of Chorlton, L.
Mountgarret, V. Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Moyne, L. Wedgwood, L.
Munster, E. Wise, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Wolfson, L
Napier and Ettrick, L. Wyatt of Weeford, L
Northesk, E. Wynford, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment No. 2A disagreed to accordingly.

6.22 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I commend Commons Amendment No. 2 to your Lordships.

On Question, Motion agreed to.