HL Deb 10 March 1994 vol 552 cc1603-76

House again in Committee on Clause 1.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Lord Northbourne moved Amendment No.4: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause: ("Duties with respect to the teacher training curriculum In carrying out their functions under section 1 above the Teacher Training Agency shall have regard to—

  1. (i) the need to ensure that education is provided in accordance with section 1 of the Education Reform Act 1988; and
  2. (ii) the need to promote the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of all pupils.").

The noble Lord said: Any Act of Parliament which delegates substantial powers and money to an agency should have set out clearly on the face of it the broad principles which should inform the decisions and actions of that agency. The relevant objective of the teacher training agency set out in Clause 1(2) (a) is to raise the standards of teaching. The provisions do not define teaching. I believe there is need for a rather more explicit statement of what the objectives of teaching should be and what kind of teaching it should be.

By a fortunate chance, we have a most excellent definition of "education", as we understand it in this country, in Section 1 of the Education Reform Act 1988. It is worth noting that those objectives cannot be assumed. In the French lycé e system, spiritual and moral values and the spiritual and moral development of pupils are not matters for the schools. Indeed, schools are expressly forbidden to attend to the spiritual and moral development of their pupils. The purpose of the amendment, therefore, is to clarify the objectives of the legislation by stating on the face of the Bill the fact that Section 1 of the Education Reform Act is to be regarded as providing the object of the teaching that is to be promoted by the agency. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

I support the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, in his amendment. Its two purposes are stated clearly. They are worthy purposes which I would not expect my noble friend Lady Blatch to reject. Indeed, if we are to have teacher training, we must ensure that it is training which enables Section 1 of the Education Reform Act to be fulfilled and implemented. There is also, the need to promote the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of all pupils", which, in my school days— I know that that is a long time ago— was as much the object of one's teachers as of one's parents. I hope that standards have not changed much since then, but let us make sure that they do not.

I do not suggest that the amendment necessarily fulfils the purposes which the noble Lord and I have in mind, but I hope very much that my noble friend Lady Blatch will say that she accepts the principle of the amendment.

Baroness Blatch

The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and my noble friend Lord Renton will not be surprised to hear me say that I am very sympathetic to the intentions that lie behind the new clause. It is very much in tune with our own priorities. The reference to the Education Reform Act 1988 is, of course, a reference to one of our landmark pieces of legislation. I recall the support of both noble Lords for similar amendments to the 1992 Schools Act which, I believe, have added significantly to its effect and have helped further to promote the important debate about ethos and values in our schools.

We are already pursuing these priorities in the field of initial teacher training. The Secretary of State's criteria for initial teacher training courses have only recently been revised with those aims in mind. They require that all new primary and secondary teachers must be ready to promote the moral and spiritual well-being of pupils. They also require teachers to be able to deliver the statutory curriculum, which is governed by Section 1 of the Education Reform Act 1988. It will be one of the key tasks of the agency to ensure that all initial teacher training institutions, including schools, are capable of providing courses which fully meet my right honourable friend's criteria.

There is certainly no difference of principle between the noble Lord and myself here. I can also understand the desire to see the principle enshrined in statute. The drafting of the new clause does, however, give me reason to pause. As my right honourable friend has noted, it appears to carry an implication that the agency will have a more direct involvement with the provision of education than would be possible in practice. The duties in Section 1 of the Education Reform Act are placed on the Secretary of State, on local authorities, on governors and on heads. I would not want the agency to have any role in inspecting what goes on in classrooms; that is a role for Ofsted. Nor would it be appropriate for the agency to set criteria for initial teacher training courses. That. must remain a matter for the Secretary of State on the advice of the agency.

Under Clause l of the Bill, the agency will have the objective of raising the standard of teaching, which is the main contribution that it can make to the matters raised by the new clause. I have no doubt that in pursuing its objectives the TTA will aim to contribute towards the spiritual, moral, social, cultural and physical development of all pupils— as well, of course, as to their academic development— or mental develop-ment in the terms of the Education Reform Act. There may well be a case for making this explicit on the face of the Bill. The wording of the new clause, however, could, as I have explained, take the agency into deeper waters in usurping the roles of Ofsted and the Secretary of State than I believe the noble Lord may have intended.

I cannot therefore accept the new clause as it stands, but, in accepting the principle, I accept that the noble Lord and my noble friend may wish to come back with an alternative amendment to Clause 1 which meets the concerns I have raised. I should naturally be happy to pursue the matter further between now and the next stage of the Bill.

Lord Northbourne

I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for those encouraging words. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Northbourne moved Amendment No.5: After Clause I. insert the following new clause: ("Requirements for teachers with relevant training In carrying out their functions under section 1 above the Teacher Training Agency shall have regard to the demand from schools for teachers with training in various skills and disciplines and shall aim to achieve a balance between supply and demand.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment concerns the balance of courses and the kind of courses that will be supported by the agency. In Clause 5(4) (a), the agency is required to have regard, to any forecasts of demand for newly-qualified teachers notified to them by the Secretary of State". This is a probing amendment, because I am not sure what that phrase means. If it means that the Secretary of State will bring together forecasts from schools for the convenience of the agency and will pass them on to the school, I shall beg leave to withdraw the amendment. If it means that the Secretary of State will create his own forecasts, I have some anxieties. If so, he would have arbitrary control over the kind of teaching and the subjects to be taught.

While I have absolute confidence in the present Secretary of State— not to mention the present Minister of State— it is unlikely that either of them will be in post for the next 25 years. There will be changes. It seems unsatisfactory that such matters should be at the whim of whoever happens to be Secretary of State for a certain period of time. The purpose of the amendment, therefore, is to try to make the teacher training agency balance supply and demand as far as possible. I beg to move.

8.30 p.m.

Baroness David

I will not comment on whether the teacher training agency will, have regard to the demand from schools for teachers with training in various skills and disciplines and shall aim to achieve a balance between supply and demand". However, I would like to say a word about the supply and demand and also about the various skills arid disciplines. It is very important that we should keep an eye on the number of teachers who will be needed in schools, looking into the future with the demographic changes that are likely to happen. Somebody must obviously keep an eye on that.

With regard to the various skills and disciplines, I just want to say a word about parents and teachers. I think it is important that teachers should, when they are having their initial training, be aware of what parents are like and take them into their confidence. The teachers should have help and guidance in their training to speak to parents, to get to know parents and to be able to feel confident about bringing them into schools. A number of places are having schools with parents going in. That is helpful but I think that the teachers need guidance about this. Within their initial teacher training it would be very helpful to them if there were some element in it to deal with parents. I ask the Minister whether that could possibly be written into the Bill somewhere.

Amendment No.5 deals with supply arid demand. Amendment No.43, standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Judd and myself, is linked with that amendment and I would like to speak to it. This amendment widens the professional knowledge avail-able to the teacher training agency when it is deciding how many new teachers are required. At present Clause 5(4) (a) only requires the agency to have regard to forecasts of demand for new teachers, which are relayed to them by the Secretary of State. The Bill in its present form does not encourage confidence that the Government are aware of the needs of the profession. The 1992– 93 HMI report on standards and quality in education and research by the Royal Society indicate shortfalls in the numbers of new teachers in areas like modern languages, maths, science and technology. Yet the Bill does not address these worries.

Recent initiatives which attempt to address the problem of shortfalls— that is, the shortening of the B.Ed. course and the articled teachers scheme— need to be more clearly assessed rather than the radical and hasty changes in this Bill which, regarding teacher supply issues in particular, are irrelevant and unproductive of anything save the transfer of more power to the Secretary of State.

One of the suspicions that I have heard about this Bill is that the department and Ministers are aware that by 1997 there will be a serious shortage of secondary teachers in a number of subjects and that this Bill will make it possible to hurry teachers through their training. I am particularly grateful that this afternoon the Minister has given us a commitment that it will still be an all-graduate profession. That reassures me and removes some of my worries.

The Minister has attempted to reassure the profession by saying that the involvement of schools will be entirely voluntary. However, if there are no extra resources made available to schools for training of staff who take part and for their increased responsibilities schools may not come forward and further shortfalls in teacher numbers may arise while existing shortfalls may not be dealt with.

The Minister claimed during Second Reading that it will be central to the agency's funding allocation work that it keeps abreast of supply issues. That claim appears in col.820 of the Official Report. This amendment seeks to ensure that the agency will have a statutory duty to pay attention to the people with expertise and involvement in the teaching profession. It would thus truly be able to keep abreast of the issues and would be more likely to deal with shortfalls in teacher supply than it would in its present form.

Baroness Blatch

A number of points that were raised by the noble Baroness have almost nothing to do with Amendment No.5; for example, the relationship between teachers and parents, which is important, and whether that is covered in initial teacher training. That is another important issue, but it has nothing to do with the supply and demand for teachers.

Baroness David

The amendment states: "in various skills and disciplines". I was getting in my bit about parents under that.

Baroness Blatch

The noble Baroness asked whether I could give an assurance that the important aspect of the relationship between a teacher and a parent will be covered in the initial teacher training. That has nothing to do with supply and demand but it has everything to do with making sure that that important aspect is covered. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State in his criteria made absolutely certain that that is a very important part of initial teacher training.

As regards the forecast of a serious shortage of secondary school teachers in particular subjects, the present system of annual returns showing where the surpluses and shortages are, and the introduction of bursary schemes, is successfully dealing with some of those issues.

I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss this important aspect of supply and demand for teachers. Overall supply is currently very buoyant. Vacancies are currently at an all-time low. Recruitment of initial teacher training students for 1993– 94 is up on the previous year in all of the secondary shortage subjects of maths, science, technology and modern languages. The Open University post-graduate course and the first round of school-centred courses are having a positive effect in shortage subject areas. The CTC Trust's Smallpeice Programme is making a valuable contribution to technology recruitment. I have visited many of these schemes and I can vouch for that.

All of this is good news. We are not complacent. I do, of course, recognise that the teacher supply position is cyclical. I can assure Members of the Committee that the Government will continue to take a central role in monitoring and forecasting demand for teachers so that supply can be adjusted as necessary.

The department currently produces forecasts which take account of present and likely future demand from schools. The are very detailed and look at demand for teachers with specific subject specialisms, just as the amendment proposes. We plan to carry on with that work when the agency has been established. Clause 5(4) of the Bill requires the agency to have regard to my right honourable friend's detailed demand forecasts in allocating its resources.

The material difference which the new clause would make would be to give the work of forecasting demand to the agency and not the department. While I can understand the arguments for letting a specialist agency have this additional responsibility, I do not think that it would be the right answer. In looking ahead, the key determinant of overall demand— within which specific targets must be met — will have to be the number of teachers which schools employ.

Unconstrained by inevitable limits on resources, the pattern of demand from schools would no doubt be very different. But the real world will always be one in which public spending on schools— as on hospitals and other essential services— must be limited to that which the country can afford. We should do no service to students to train them as teachers to meet unrealistic forecasts of demand.

It will be the Government who are responsible for the overall judgment about public spending, and they will be best placed to consider what that implies for the demand for teachers. It would be wrong to leave that judgment about finance to the agency; although as it develops its expertise and knowledge of the schools and teacher training systems it will of course be able to offer helpful advice on other factors affecting teacher demand, which can be fed into the department's forecasts.

In short, I believe that the important functions raised by this new clause are already covered under the arrangements we propose, which give the department and the agency rather different roles for the reasons I have set out. In the light of that, I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.

Lord Northbourne

I am grateful to the Minister for explaining the position. I shall withdraw the amendment but wish to stress that the Government's principle of diversity and choice for parents cannot be a reality unless there is available a suitable supply of trained teachers to teach the subjects which parents and their children choose.

Baroness Blatch

I am grateful for the noble Lord's comments. As regards receiving advice from other agencies— as provided in the other amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady David, and with which I did not deal— it is important to note that information will come into the agency and into the department from all corners. We do not want to make it an absolute requirement that it should have to have regard to everything from any source. Once one goes down that road the procedure becomes not only very lengthy but also subjective. It is important that advice is received and there is nothing in the Bill which prevents advice from being given. But there is nothing in the Bill which makes that a requTement.

Lord Northbourne

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Northbourne moved Amendment No.6: After Clause 1, invert the following new clause: ("Religi7US education teacher training. In carrying out their functions under section 1 above the Teacher Training Agency shall ensure the provision of an adequate supply of teachers who have special skills in the teaching of religious education.")

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No.7. Earlier this afternoon we had the big guns of academia here, and I am confident that academic subjects will be looked after well, whether it is the teacher training agency or some other organisation which is in charge. But I am afraid that non-academic: subjects will be pushed aside and marginalised. I believe that that has happened to a considerable extent to personal and social education in the national curriculum. When we discussed that matter in 1988, the noble Baroness gave an assurance of the Government's commitment to personal and social education. However, what we have now is merely a cross-curricular theme. As I understand it, we do not even have a curriculum for it.

Both religious education and personal and social education are difficult to teach. Not everybody wants to teach them. They are best taught by using special teaching techniques and with a special degree of commitment. In my view, there is a need for specialist teachers for those two subjects above all.

Amendment No.6 is designed to ensure that the training of specialist teachers for RE does not become marginalised or pushed aside by the claims of examination subjects.

Amendment No.7 deals with the teaching of life skills, which is called personal and social education. What a switch off that is. I can imagine any teenager worth his salt going to sleep the moment he hears that title. I would call that subject "This is your life".

The declining moral and social influence of Christianity and the disarray and uncertainty of families in their educating role strengthen the need for all young persons to have an opportunity to learn at school how to take responsibility for their own lives; to make reasoned choices; to cope with anger, disappointment and success; to understand their own sexuality and about relationships; to understand the rights and needs of children and the responsibilities of parenthood; to exercise their own rights with due respect to the rights of others; and to be good citizens and so on. The purpose of Amendment No.7 is to ensure that the training of teachers in personal and social education does not become marginalised by other subjects which the academics regard as more important in the national curriculum. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

I was very glad to add my name to Amendment No.6 because, like the Secretary of State, I believe that it is of great importance that teachers should have sufficient understanding and skill to be able to teach religious education. I hope to hear from my friend Lady Blatch either that she considers that some special reference should be made to that skill in this Bill or that she can give us an assurance that the basic teaching of trainers, in the light of the recent amendments to the curriculum, will include a skill in teaching religious education. If that were to happen, Amendment No.6 would not be necessary. I make no comment on Amendment No.7.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Judd

Had it not been for the words "Teacher Training Agency" in the amendments, I believe that I should have added my name to them. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, and I were talking privately yesterday about the Bill and he said that he did not expect to find that we were both on the same side. I am very much in agreement with these two amendments and the points which they raise.

Two matters struck me about the amendments. First, at a time when Sir Ron Dearing is bringing in new ideas about the post-14 curriculum and so on, there is a good deal of anxiety that the pendulum will swing too far the other way and that there will be such an emphasis on vocational technical education that preparation for life will be squeezed out. Therefore, I believe that both the amendments about religious education and "This is your life" are timely in that context.

I have been struck by the tremendous challenge which religious education now offers to our education system. The Committee will forgive me if I have made that point before. However, it seems to me that the relevant education system in the United Kingdom at this juncture is preparing youngsters for the excitement and challenge of living in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith society. Religious education means religious education. It does not mean religious indoctrination. That requires a great deal of preparation, skill, understanding and perception on the part of those who are undertaking the teaching because it is necessary to understand the variety of religions which go into making up the fabric of our society. Therefore, from that standpoint, I believe that the amendment is important.

As regards "This is your life" or life skills, the point that we should bear in mind is that in other contexts in this Chamber we are tremendously concerned about delinquency, drug addiction, legitimacy, young single parents and so on. That is highly relevant to those social challenges. It is an example of how money well spent in time is preventive and removes the need to rush around too late trying to make good the things that have gone wrong. Therefore, from both those standpoints, I commend the amendments for the very serious consideration of the Minister.

Lord Elton

I am one of those who believes that life cannot be properly understood, let alone lived, without an understanding of religion. I support warmly the intention behind both my noble friend's amendments. Moreover, it is not very long since this Chamber put on the statute book a requirement that religious education should be taught. I now hear increasingly often, and worryingly, that there are insufficient fully qualified and enthusiastic teachers to do that job. Therefore, there is need for a commitment from the Government to make good that shortfall. However, I doubt whether the amendments are the right way to achieve that.

I suspect that my noble friend will not use the phrase but I believe that inclusio unius est exclusio alterius should be quoted because if specific provision is made for one subject, the suggestion is that other subjects do not matter as much. Although we may feel that they matter a little less, they are still too important to leave out. I hope that my noble friend will give a sympathetic reply and will find a way to reassure us— which will remain reassuring after the Minister and her right honourable friend, in years to come have been sadly swept from office and perhaps from the face of this globe— that there will always be a proper supply of teachers trained for that purpose.

Lord Lucas

Surely the point is not that there should be a supply of specialist teachers who can teach these subjects but that every teacher should be taught them. Certainly, if you consider teachers in the further education sector, every single one of those teachers has to take responsibility for the guidance and counselling of the students. The same is the case in many comprehensive schools. They all need to have these skills and they ought to be, and I am sure are, part of their basic education.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

I welcome Amendment No.6, but I would like to put a slight question mark on Amendment No.7, simply to say that I very much hope that those who have skills in the teaching of personal and social education do indeed include people who will teach the subject in the context of moral considerations and the value of family life. I fear that at the moment that is not often so.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

While I support the spirit behind Amendment No.6 moved by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, I must say that I, like the noble Lord, Lord Elton, am not entirely convinced that it is appropriate to have such a provision on the face of the Bill. Unfortunately my Latin is not up to his very succinct standard. Nevertheless, I believe that I understood it sufficiently to grasp what he was saying. I hope that we shall receive an assurance from the Government on the issue. But my concern, which is greater in the field — and is one that I do not think we can deal with by means of this legislation— is to ensure that the schools themselves do employ qualified and experienced religious education teachers in order to give the teaching required. It is too often being given by those who are not skilled in the field.

As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, in the current multi-faith situation, religion is a much more difficult and delicate subject to teach than used to be the case. However, that is a matter which must be dealt with through another means. I just hope the Government will be able to give us sufficient reassurance on the point and that, perhaps, the actual words of the amendment will not be necessary.

Lord Addington

I rise to express briefly my hope that the Government will not be putting forward such amendments. I say that for the simple reason that I believe we have had enough debate about moral considerations, the values of family life and what is the correct moral situation. If we put such a provision in the Bill, we shall have to define it elsewhere. I suggest that we might have to change it within a few minutes.

Lord Northbourne

I should like to point out to the noble Lord that the words "family life" do not appear in the amendment. That was done purposely.

Lord Addington

I am sorry, but I referred to the "values of family life".

Baroness Blatch

Perhaps I may take first the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington. It is perhaps the changing and moving of the goalposts in such issues which has done most damage as regards the difficulty that teachers have in addressing the subject. I, for one, should like to see us get back to first principles in such matters. I absolutely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. He has given us the opportunity to discuss, once again, the importance of underpinning all education; that is, religiously, morally and, indeed, socially. Those are the areas which can provide the cement of a decent and civilised society.

This Government have done much to promote and raise the profile of the teaching of religious education and that side of education which relates to responsibility and citizenship. I have to put on record the personal commitment of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. I refer to his commitment to ensuring that all education is set in the context of the values about which we are talking tonight.

In our schools legislation in 1988,1992 and 1993 we highlighted the importance of those areas. The Education Act 1993 also made sex education part of the statutory curriculum, and, by virtue of Section 46 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986, all sex education must encourage pupils to have due regard to moral considerations and the value of family life. Here I note very seriously the points made by my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

The production of circulars on religious and sex education as guidance for teachers in schools is most important. Again, such documents emphasise the context within which such subjects are dealt. As I said when speaking to the previous amendment, the Secretary of State's criteria for all teacher training courses cover the need for all teachers — primary and secondary— to be ready to promote pupils' moral, social and cultural development in their pastoral role. In accrediting and funding providers of training, the agency will be obliged to apply those criteria to all courses. Therefore, I take the point made by my noble friend Lord Lucas. Basic teacher training is well covered. It is important to cover such matters under existing arrangements.

As regards more specialist training, the issues in respect of the training of teachers are different for personal and social education, for sex education and, indeed, for religious education. I tend towards the view that sex education is usually better delivered by responsible, experienced teachers rather than newly qualified ones. That leads me to see specialist training in that area as best suited to an in-service model, arranged through schools, rather than directly funded by the TTA.

For personal and social education, the position is more complicated. All teachers have pastoral respon-sibilities and, as I said before, that is at it should be. For them, provision will best be made as part of a more general training programme.

The case of religious education is different again. All primary teachers, unless they specifically decide otherwise on religious grounds, will be trained to deliver the full statutory curriculum including religious education. For secondary specialist teachers, however, the supply responsibility will be shared between my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, who will give forecasts of demand to the TTA, and the agency, which will make its funding decisions.

While sharing the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and that of other Members of the Committee, that we should have adequate training in those fields, I believe that the proposed new clauses would confuse existing and planned responsibilities which, as I hope I have explained, will fully cover— and will continue to do so— all that the noble Lord seeks to achieve. It is unnecessary to write them into the statute if the aim is to ensure that they continue. Indeed, such excessively detailed priorities could be counter-productive, as my noble friend Lord Renton suggested, by casting doubt on anything that is not specifically prescribed. On that basis, and in the light of the valuable debate that we have had, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Northbourne

I am most grateful to the Minister. From her response, I do not quite feel that she dealt with the subject of life skills education which is at the heart of my amendment. However, with the leave of the Committee, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment tonight, but reserve the right to return to the matter at a later stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.7 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Membership, & c. of the agency:]

Baroness David moved Amendment No.8: Page 2, line 2, after ("State") insert ("after consultation with the Higher Education Funding Council for England").

The noble Baroness said: We now come to Clause 2, which deals with the membership of the agency. The grouping includes Amendments Nos.8–13 and 16–21. I shall speak to the amendments which are tabled in my name and that of my noble friend. I shall deal first with Amendment No.8, which seeks to ensure that the special relationship between higher education and teacher training is formally recognised. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us on the matter and that she will be able to accept the amendment. The Secretary of State should consult with the Higher Education Funding Council for England as regards the names of those people whom he wishes to put forward for membership, or advice on his own nominees.

I move on now to Amendment No.11, which requires that the Secretary of State shall have regard to the experience of "qualified" teachers; that is, those who have been through the system of teacher training and who work in the classroom, putting into practice that experience rather than the more general experience in the provision of education as mentioned in the Bill. That is specific experience that the teacher training agency cannot afford to overlook when making decisions.

I turn now to Amendment No.18, which deals with membership and research. If the agency is to be responsible for the funding of research, into, the theory, practice and management of education", as set out in Clause 4(1) (b), then it is imperative that the teacher training agency includes members who have the appropriate experience of such research. Even if later amendments are accepted and research funding remains with the Higher Education Funding Council, it is important that the training responsibilities of the TTA. and higher education research are bridged. That seems to me to be extremely important. Any decision for funding research cannot be divorced from decisions on teacher training.

The last amendment to which our names are attached is Amendment No.20. It involves parents and governors. In listing examples of practical experience: that might be desirable in members of the TTA, there can be no good reason why experience as a parent of a child in a school or as a school governor should not be included. Of course, governors may well be parents. The subsection is not prescriptive. It provides a checklist of qualities that the Secretary of State should take into account. I think that those are the amendments in the group to which our names are attached. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

I wish to speak to Amendments Nos.9,10,16 and 21, which stand in my name and which are in the group we are discussing. The purpose of these amendments is to secure that the Secretary of State consults with the Churches before making appointments to the teacher training agency. This would be parallel to the provision which the Government agreed to in the 1993 Education Act regarding consultation with the Churches over appointments to the Funding Agency for Schools. The Committee will remember that the Churches provide approximately one-third of the schools in the maintained sector and our partnership with the state in the provision of schools was recognised by the Government and is given expression through consulta-tion with the Churches being on the face of the 1993 Act.

The Church colleges of education are currently training over a quarter— I believe the figure is 28 per cent. — of our teachers and therefore the Churches request parallel consultation as regards membership of the teacher training agency. We wish to continue to work in partnership with the state in teacher education although many of our Church colleges have diversified into other areas of higher education. In putting forward this amendment, my hope is that the Government will accept it as a symbol of significant and serious consultation. I say that because our experience of consultation over appointments to the Funding Agency for Schools has not been encouraging and I owe it to the Committee to relate what has happened.

The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church were invited to suggest names of people for appointment to the Funding Agency for Schools. After consultation with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and others, I, as chairman of the Church of England Board of Education put forward three names. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds put forward two names. Since we put forward those names in July last year, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds and I heard nothing at all on this matter from the Secretary of State or his officers until we read in the press the names of those who had been appointed to the funding agency. None of those whom we had named have been appointed, although the Secretary of State has appointed other people from our Churches. Of course he is perfectly entitled to do that but in view of the provisions of the 1993 Act, and on the grounds of common courtesy, I had expected that the Secretary of State might have informed me that the names which I had submitted were not acceptable, and he could indeed have asked for others. If he had in mind other names of prominent people in the Church of England, I expected that he would have consulted me as chairman of the Board of Education, or perhaps the Archbishops, but none of that happened.

I had thought that the provision of the 1993 Act about consultation was an acceptance of the need for realistic discussion and that it was not just a barren formality. If there is to be genuine partnership between government and Churches in these areas where the Churches have a specific contribution to make, I suggest that we need something notably better than what has happened: we shall not be able to sustain confidence otherwise. I wish to press the point a little further. The 1993 Act states: Before appointing any member of the agency the Secretary of State shall consult [the Churches)". When the Government were moving this amendment in the debate on the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, said: I should like to be absolutely clear on the matter. Presumably it means that every time the Secretary of State needs to appoint a member to the Funding Agency for Schools he will consult the Churches". — [Official Report, 10/6/93; col.1128.] The Minister replied in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby: In answer to his first question as to whether we would consult the Churches every time, the answer is yes". — [Official Report, 10/6/93; col.1132.) I put it to the Committee that, in the light of the wording of the Act and of the assurance that the Minister gave, the Government have not really fulfilled the terms of the Act, or risen to the assurances which they gave us.

In returning to these particular amendments, I move them hoping that the Government will accept them not only in the letter of the law but also in a spirit of genuine partnership. The Churches have played an historic part in the education of teachers and that contribution to teacher education continues. The quality of our Church colleges is widely respected. We want to work in continuing and developing partnership and I hope the Government will acknowledge that by the acceptance of these reasonable amendments.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

Two amendments in this grouping appear in my name— Nos.17 and 19. In speaking to Amendment No.17, I have spoken earlier this evening of the difficulty of achieving the cross-fertilisation of other more serious academic disciplines with that of teacher training. This amendment would make sure that representatives of such other disciplines sit on the new teacher training agency. I appreciate that the clause as already drafted in the Bill requires the Secretary of State to consider appointing people who appear to him to, have experience of, and to have shown capacity in, the provision of education in schools", and of higher education generally. But I am not quite sure that that is the same thing as having been good at actually teaching proper academic subjects, and it is people who have achieved that whom I would like to see included on the teacher training agency. If the amendment is superfluous, I apologise, but in any case I would very much like to hear my noble friend confirm that such people will indeed be members of the teacher training agency and— I think this is important— any of its relevant sub-committees.

In moving to Amendment No.19, this amendment would remove from the Bill the presumption that those appointed to the teacher training agency would be currently engaged in teaching or teacher training or providing higher education. I have to say that this is an unnecessary and possibly dangerous provision in the Bill. First, there is of course the point that people who have just retired from teaching, or the other activities, might bring a lifetime of experience to the agency. Secondly, they are also likely to have the time to devote to the agency's work which it will certainly require if it is to succeed. And, thirdly, it seems to me that it is the newer and trendier ideas in education which have done so much to diminish its quality in recent, and not-so-recent years. Much of what has gone wrong in teacher training owes its origins to these newer and trendier philosophies.

So I cannot help feeling that, if these lines were to be removed from the Bill, it would allow some of our older and wiser academics, and indeed teacher trainers— although I fear these may be somewhat fewer and further between— to be members of the agency, and perhaps encourage a return to the sort of basics in education of which the vast majority of Members of the Committee approve.

Baroness Cox

As my name appears on Amendments Nos.17 and 19 alongside that of my noble friend Lord Pearson, I wish to state briefly why I was pleased to support these amendments.

So far as concerns Amendment No.17, I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, who made powerful representations about the importance of a love and in-depth knowledge of a subject before one can teach that subject well. Therefore, I should like to believe that the Bill made provision for the important principle of subject expertise in teaching to be recognised in the agency. I ask how anyone can teach mathematics, history or any other subject without a grounding in the subject itself. The recognition of that principle should be reflected in the membership of the committees and sub-committees relevant to the TTA.

I would argue that only with some provision for representation of that subject expertise can there be an assurance that the integrity of the disciplines themselves can be safeguarded, standards maintained and appropriate up-to-date knowledge transmitted to the next generation. It is in that spirit that I support Amendment No.17.

Perhaps I may refer briefly to Amendment No.19. I agree with my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch that what seems at present to be the overriding criterion of appointment, namely, that the members should be currently engaged in teaching, should not be the principal criterion. There is the importance of subject expertise which I hive just mentioned. There is also the important principle of representation from outside the education system, such as from the professions or industry, to reflect the users and the wider society, which provides the resources for educational standards and benefits from or is disadvantaged by good or poor quality education respectively.

In other words, in Amendment No.19 we are setting out the principle of the importance of some representation by outsiders without vested interests in the system itself as it now stands.

In that spirit I support the amendments. Although they are principally probing amendments, I shall value my noble friend's response to the spirit behind them.

The Earl of Radnor

Perhaps this is the right time to speak to Amendment No.12, which introduces the subject of pupils with special learning difficulties. While we are discussing teacher training and the teacher training agency, we have to consider the end product and what the teacher will have to try to teach.

The Secretary of State has set out the people he considers to be desirable members of the agency. It is a commendably short list, but there is an immense gap in it. It does not include anyone with experience of children with learning difficulties. If my noble friend wished to broaden the membership, as the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), proposes, special educational needs might be appropriate. There is certainly no doubt that some provision of this type must be included somewhere in the Bill. This would seem to be the first place for it to be included. I cannot imagine an agency which does not cover that subject.

My noble friend will know perfectly well the number of statemented children. She will also agree that statemented children represent only the tip of the iceberg. It is now acknowledged that there are many children in school who do not have statements but who need special treatment from their teachers. That means that all teachers must have some knowledge of educational needs of that nature. That is important.

Two noble Baronesses and one noble Lord have spoken this evening about the effectiveness of children leaving school for commerce who are not good enough. Here is a reservoir of children who must be properly taught. I am told that they represent 20 per cent. of all children, if one takes statemented children with those who have special needs but do not have a statement. Those children are probably of considerable intelligence but are just not able to realise their potential without proper teaching. Therefore, we must include somewhere the suggestion that such expertise should be represented among the eight to 12 members of the agency.

My noble friend, with whom I have corresponded on the subject, may well say that that expertise is delivered through various agencies and local education authori-ties. However, local education authorities are of variable quality in that respect. Children in one part of the country may be very lucky. Some authorities are excellent. But in another part of the country the position may be totally different. As a result of their teachers not being properly taught, the children themselves will not be taught properly and will be a loss to the country.

This is such a simple amendment. The argument becomes a little more powerful in Amendment No.29. But I feel that there should be someone on the board who has some knowledge of the subject, or at least there should be some admission that the Secretary of State might consider that.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

Perhaps this is the right moment for me to speak to Amendment No.13 in my name and in the name of other noble Lords, particularly my noble friend Lord Rix. He is very sorry not to be present because he has pursued the issue from the beginning. He did so at Second Reading and has done so since. He has a family funeral today and so cannot be here.

I am much cheered to hear what the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, said about liking my Amendment No.13. Although it saw the light of day about two months after the noble Earl's amendment, my amendment goes much wider than his. I hope that the Minister will look kindly upon it. Amendment No.13 will ensure that at least one person on the TTA has expertise in special education. That is essential if it is to evaluate the quality of special needs training offered by those who seek funding. It is also essential that the members are currently involved in special needs education so that that evaluation is as informed as possible.

High quality special needs training is not just a laudable aim; it has to be achieved. As the Minister will agree, the 1993 Act and code of practice place a responsibility on all schools and teachers to identify and meet the special educational needs of all pupils. Furthermore, many children with, for example, severe learning difficulties or sensory impairment will require teachers who have undergone further specialist training. Under the 1993 Act and the code of practice, if schools fail to meet those responsibilities parents can appeal to the tribunal.

The Minister knows all this much better than any of us, and she is deeply committed to making it all work. She and two of her ministerial colleagues and officials had a long and helpful meeting with disability organisations to discuss these issues. While they are very grateful, they still believe that something needs to be written into the Bill. It is vital that we get it right. We are discussing a group of disparate though related amendments. Amendments Nos.12 and 13 are closely related. I hope that when the Minster replies she can give a positive response to Amendment No.13, which will also embrace Amendment No.12, or will undertake to bring forward an amendment of her own to achieve the same aim, even if it does it by a different route. If she cannot do that, perhaps she can indicate clearly that she is willing to continue discussions before Report stage. I would then be sufficiently happy and grateful not to bore the Committee any further and not move Amendment No.13.

Lord Swinfen

Very briefly, I should like to support Amendment No.13 to which my name has also been placed. I am thinking of the ultimate product of this exercise; that is, the pupil with special educational needs. If the teacher training agency does not have the expertise at the very top of the pyramid, how can we make certain that the pupil with special educational needs will be properly taught at the bottom of the pyramid? I realise that one in a group of 12 may not have all the expertise that is required for special education, but we must remember that if pupils with special needs are not properly taught they will not be able to play a full part in life and therefore will not have a particularly satisfactory life. They may well end up costing the state a great deal more. It is wiser to make a proper investment early in their lives by making certain that the right people are in place to see that they are properly taught.

Lord Addington

I should like to speak very briefly to Amendments Nos.11 to 13. Amendment No.11 mentions "a qualified teacher". Possibly some integration of the wording here will achieve a situation from which we can all benefit, because a qualified teacher in the field of specific learning difficulties is probably what the Committee is looking for. The amendment, which has my name to it and the lead name of the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, is one that refers to a particular category of specific learning difficulty. As the noble Lord who has just spoken said, there is a great divergency. We are beginning to probe what is needed in the new stages of the whole problem of dealing with different issues. In the past we have discussed those with specific learning difficulties, but there is beginning to be a divergence about what needs to be done next because of the divergence of difficulties. I will be very grateful if, when she replies, the Minister will be able to tell us how the thinking is going on incorporating all of these types of difficulties and what progress is being made upon it. I know that the noble Baroness has been very active in looking at the problems involved and seeing whether any thoughts have appeared in this area.

Baroness David

I should like to speak briefly to these two amendments. I prefer the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth). I believe that "special educational needs" is a better phrase than "special learning difficulties", for the reason that the noble Lord, Lord Addington, has said.

The noble Baroness has been very helpful in all of these discussions about special educational needs, the code of practice and so on. I hope that, if she is not willing to accept Amendment No.13 at once, we can perhaps have a discussion about it before the next stage of the Bill. I strongly support Amendment No.13, for the reasons given.

Lord Elton

I suspect that my noble friend will be put into a difficulty by some of the amendments and helped out of it by others. Looking at the more helpful side first, I hope that she will carefully consider Amendment No.19 in the name of my noble friend Lord Pearson, which relieves her of the difficulty, if I understand the language of the Bill correctly, of being required to appoint people who are fully engaged in education or the provision of education at the time.

If we add to that the provision wanted by the noble Baroness, Lady David, that they should be qualified teachers doing it, then we are in danger of limiting ourselves to appointing eight to 12 people who have a fairly narrow experience of the subject which they are meant to oversee. For example, I presume they will want people with primary experience, but many practising primary teachers stay in the same primary school for a long time. To take them out of the school and put them on to the national body may give them a great shock and not give the wider experience that perhaps the body needs.

Therefore, my noble friend's Amendment No.19 may go too far but perhaps he can tell me what will be the effect in law of the words in line 5: In appointing the members of the agency the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability of including persons who appear to him— and then follow paragraphs (a) and (b). Does that apply to just some of the people and others need not be bound by it? In which case my noble friend's amendment may not be so urgently needed.

There is another difficulty which is familiar to any Members of the Committee who have previously debated the matter. It becomes worse at Report stage. The suggestion is that one must include special needs, special learning difficulties, parents, academic subjects, denominational education, research and theory represented in the committee. Many noble Lords not here today may read Hansard and say: "By gum, I forgot about history; no one has put geography down". You will find that the eight places have to be filled by polymaths if you are to make it work at all. My noble friend will either have to increase the eight or 12 to a larger number or be very selective. Once we are selective, we get into the old difficulty of appearing to give more importance to one aspect than another.

I suspect that my noble friend would be well advised to stick with her formula of giving the Secretary of State a broad brush direction. There is possibly one exception to that. It is the Church because of its historic and continuing role in the denominational schools. I feel that that should be recognised in the Bill as it has been in others. I hope that in responding to that, the Minister will be able to give some happy and reassuring answer to what sounded like the deeply worrying complaint expressed by the right reverend Prelate when he moved his amendment.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

Perhaps I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Elton, a question. As my noble friend Lady Warnock said over a decade ago that one child in six has a special educational need at all times and that one in five has a special educational need at times, does the noble Lord, Lord Elton, agree that one member of the committee with a knowledge of special educational needs is not unreasonable?

Lord Elton

It is clearly a subject which must be properly dealt with. I am glad that my noble friend has given me the excuse to get back on my feet because I forgot to put a question to the Minister. Will the body, first, be empowered and, secondly, be funded to appoint specialist panels? The answer may be to have advisory panels to deal with big subjects and that would spread through all the subjects to he taught and all the age levels of teaching. It is a big matter and the question is whether one person on the board would be enough. I wonder whether my noble friend has given any thought as to how the body might obtain authoritative advice and act on it.

Earl Russell

When I first arrived at the London University, there was a group of professors who were known collectively as the ancien régime. One of them once commented en a proposal to change something in the syllabus: "This proposal originates with the teachers of the subject which I regard as a most improper manner". If the noble Baroness is not able to accept Amendment No.13, she may risk being classified along with the ancien régime. She has been at great pains to disclaim any notion of a vendetta against the subject. I am very relieved to hear that. But it may be more difficult to eradicate that impression if Amendment No.18 is not accepted

I listened with distress to the story of the right reverend Prelate about his experiences with consulta-tion. I remember with equal distress a similar story told by the right reverend Prelate about the difficulties of consultation that he experienced on the last Bill. When, in a year's time, we all meet together for the next education Bill, I hope to hear the right reverend Prelate say that he has been third time lucky.

I ask one question of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. Does he; lot understand that he is the "trendy" now?

Lord Lucas

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, will not mind my speaking now because I am about to say that I rather like his Amendment No.8. The Higher Education Funding Council for England and the teacher training authority will have to work closely together. And the auguries for that are not good. I have heard from several sources— although, I agree, not at first hand— that the Higher Education Funding Council for England has told E. number of the smaller independent teacher training colleges that, come the passing of the Bill, the council will dispense with all responsibility for those institutions and that they will become children of the TTA. Not surprisingly, that worries those institutions a good deal. They see themselves categorised as second-class providers, not part of the higher education system. I do not believe that that is desirable. I hope very much that we can have something in the Bill which binds the Higher Education Funding Council for England into the structure.

Baroness Warnock

I am about to make another monstrous suggestion; namely, that I strongly support the view that special educational needs should be mentioned in Clause 13. Given the very detailed instructions or suggestions in the code of practice that followed Part III of the 1993 Education Bill, an enormous responsibility is laid on teachers. Often, quite junior class teachers may have the responsibility of identifying children with special educational needs at a fairly early stage of those needs becoming apparent. It should be written on the face of the Bill that the training of any teacher ought to include a course of training, however short, on the identification of special needs against a background of general child development. It is terribly important that there should be on the training authority— if such we are to have— somebody who has that in mind. I understand fully the danger of becoming too specific about who should be a member of the board and what their qualifications should be. But this matter covers all the categories of people there and should be borne in mind. I would be extremely grateful if, at some time, we can have an assurance, through the setting up of the membership of the board, that the general consideration— namely, that young teachers should have some knowledge of that area— could be looked after.

Lord Judd

I hope that the Minister will be able to give some reassuring comments in reply to this general debate. It is an extremely difficult issue. Clearly, when one looks at the composition of this body, there are all sorts of categories that one would like to see covered. How is it best to be done? Will it be best done by saying that we will have a group of people who can look at all the interests or that, for reassurance, there are certain people whom we must have there?

To be candid, when we discussed with colleagues our own approach to this issue, our feeling was that we needed a mixture. Some people were needed who could keep a general oversight but there were certain things that were so important that others should be there. That relates very much to the strictures of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, about good faith and commitment in getting the best possible body that could carry confidence in all areas. I support my noble friend Lady David in her remarks about research and parents and governors. It is all immensely important.

Perhaps I may comment on a couple of matters that have been mentioned. First, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, I should have been very tempted in many ways to ally myself with his amendment. It is a very important amendment, dealing with academic subjects. I was sad that he seemed to ally himself with a move to de-emphasise the importance of current experience, which seems to me crucial. I feel that that was unfortunate. It is important to emphasise the need to have not just people who have experience of providing education but to have teachers— some people with real teaching experience— in that body of people.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

With the greatest respect, I do not disagree with the noble Lord ept to say that I was not seeking to dissociate myself from current experience. I was merely suggesting that current experience should include some— I do not know how much and the amendment does not suggest it— current academic expertise apart from teacher training expertise.

Lord Judd

That is good to hear. The noble Lord will perhaps look again at the wording which may be a little ambiguous in that respect.

I make just one observation to the right reverend Prelate. As an Anglican I am extremely glad to see him again ramming home his argument. However, I wonder whether he would agree with me that as we move forward, again in the context of our multi-ethnic society, it is tremendously important to start talking about consultation in a wider context than the Church of England alone. If we are talking about making a success of everything that we are trying to do, particularly where there are communities in which the Church of England may not be a substantial reality in the neighbourhood, we have to think on an equal footing not only of other denominations— I sometimes feel that it is unfortunate to refer to "other denominations" because they are denominations in their own right— but also of other faiths as well. That principle has a wider application.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. The amendment does refer to "other religious denominations". It is not exclusive to the Church of England. It reflects the provisions in previous Acts. The reason for its presence there is that we are the providers of the colleges. That is what presents our unique case.

Baroness Blatch

I enjoyed that exchange. In appointing members to the agency, we intend to take account of a variety of experience and expertise in schools as well as in higher education and the wider world. The agency's membership of eight to 12 will not be large. It will clearly be less than the Higher Education Funding Council for England's membership of 12 to 15. That reflects the teacher training agency's much more tightly focused remit.

We believe that the size of the membership coupled with a requirement to consult on certain issues, and a willingness to consult on others— should be sufficient for it to represent a wide range of interests, including those of specific groups such as the Churches and special needs interests from whom we have heard today. However, all of the agency's members must be willing and able to act in the best interests of the agency and of its statutory objectives. In order to do that, they must have the necessary flexibility. It is therefore a matter of principle— certainly with the department— that members should not act as representatives of one particular interest group.

I listened carefully to what the right reverend Prelate said. I am sorry that, in relating a very sad tale, he did not refer to the exchange of letters between himself and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The Churches were indeed consulted on the appointments to be made for the Funding Agency for Schools. Indeed, a canon with wide diocesan experience and considerable experience of education in schools— not a nomination from the Churches — was appointed. We did that consistent with the Act, which gives a requirement to consult but does not give awarding rights of appointments. There was another Church appointment — a Roman Catholic appointment— of the head of a school in an inner city with considerable experience not only in education but also of the grant-maintained sector, for which that body is particularly responsible.

But it was only on 4th March that the right reverend Prelate wrote a letter to my right honourable friend, who received it on 5th or 6th March. The moment my right honourable friend received that letter he was distressed, to say the least, that the right reverend Prelate had not received a communication from my department to explain what had happened in the making of appointments to that body. Immediately my right honourable friend wrote to the right reverend Prelate. The letter was posted and, indeed, a copy was faxed to make certain that the right reverend Prelate received it before the debate this evening.

Let me begin by paying tribute to the important role which the voluntary colleges have played and must continue to play as specialist providers of teacher training, particularly, though by no means exclusively, in the training of primary teachers. That is something we have reflected on the face of the Bill in Clause 6. Indeed, I believe the very fact that there is to be a specialist funding agency in this area means that colleges will be able to relate to a body which shares their central concerns and will be well placed to recognise their particular contribution.

Turning to the right reverend Prelate's first amendments— Amendments Nos.9 and 10— I would draw attention to the fact that Clause 2 already allows the Secretary of State to take into account the important role of Church institutions when appointing the members of the new agency. I am sure any Secretary of State will want to strike a sensible balance of membership which reflects the roles of all those groups, although of course those members must be appointed on a personal basis and will, once appointed, act in the best interest of the agency and its statutory objectives.

We were reminded that in the case of the Funding Agency for Schools we did, on reflection, include a reference to voluntary schools in the provisions on membership. That is an issue to which I have just referred but should like to come back to at the next stage in a way which I hope will meet the right reverend Prelate's concerns. The amendments as drafted have, I am told, some untoward effects on the clause as a whole and so I could not in any case at this stage add them to the Bill. But I shall certainly accept the point of principle in Amendment No.16.

I fully understand why the right reverend Prelate in Amendment No.21 would like to see consultation with Church bodies before the teacher training agency's members are appointed. I recognise that that too will be the case for the Funding Agency for Schools. But such consultation would be required not only prior to the initial appointments, but also before every single subsequent appointment, including those to fill ad hoc vacancies. I hope that the right reverend Prelate will accept that that is an unwieldy process. It also risks teacher training agency members being seen as representatives of specific interest groups, where I am sure Members of the Committee will share my reservations. Again I take the point made by my noble friend Lord Elton regarding the difficulty of being inclusive or exclusive.

I must therefore oppose Amendment No.21. But I take heed of all noble Lords' concerns that there should be adequate recognition of the position of the Churches. I can assure the Committee that, just because of the size and nature of the important role played by Church colleges, about which we have heard from many sides, and reinforced by Clause 6 of the Bill, it is inconceivable that those interests will be overlooked.

My noble friend Lord Lucas made an important but rather depressing point— from wherever he received his information— that somehow or other the Higher Education Funding Council would act disfavourably to specific colleges. That is a point which perhaps may have been better made in the debate on Clause 1— that perhaps they look after their own. However, there are certainly around half a dozen colleges where the great majority of their funding will in future come from the agency and not from the Higher Education Funding Council. They certainly have nothing to fear from this Bill. Indeed, as specialist providers of initial teacher training they can expect to enjoy a valuable relationship with the agency.

Although 1 am sympathetic to the motives behind Amendment No.12 in the name of my noble friend Lord Radnor and Amendment No.13 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rix, who is not in his place— and I understand why not— I must resist adding either of the suggested additional phrases to the Bill. The model for agency membership, on which the provisions in Clause 2 are closely modelled, is the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The 1992 Act does not mention special needs, but in fact the funding council does have members with backgrounds in this area. The Secretary of State would have equal freedom to choose people with such backgrounds as agency members under Clause 2 as it stands.

In so far as noble Lords wish to ensure that initial teacher training takes account of basic special needs issues, that is not an issue for the Bill. The requirements for courses will riot be set by the agency. They are contained within the criteria which are well established and will be kept up to date as necessary by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, who will consult widely as and when revisions are needed. I believe that this is the way in which suitable special needs content will be assured in all courses, whether offered by schools or higher education institutions.

The noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, made an important point. I wonder whether she would agree with me that this whole issue is strengthened very much by Section 3 of the Education Act 1993 because now on the statute is a requirement for the provisions of that Act to be delivered by non-specialist classroom teachers, just as they are to be delivered by specialist classroom teachers, all knowing quite precisely what their part is in that. Any criteria for basic teacher training must reflect the need for initial teacher training to recognise the importance of stages 1,2 and 3 in the process of determining, identifying and then attending to the special needs of young people.

I turn now to Amendments Nos.11,18 and 20 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I expect we shall see on the teacher training agency those who did qualify as teachers and parents with children in schools, or school governors, or individuals with experience of research into, or the study of, education. But Clause 2 as drafted does nothing to exclude individuals with any of these characteristics. Parents and governors are not a breed set apart. They come from every walk of life. In almost any non-departmental body one will find people who are governors and who are parents of children attending our schools. The issue is whether it is necessary to list possible areas of experience in such great detail. I cannot believe that this would be the right approach. I must therefore oppose those amendments.

Amendment No.8 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, seeks consultation on appointments with the Higher Education Funding Council for England. I noticed the support given for that by my noble friend Lord Lucas. That would be very cumbersome. This is a relatively small body and it would have to he done every time the agency had an ad hoc vacancy. The funding council is in any case a body which itself is appointed by the Secretary of State. There is no logic in the amendment. It also overlooks that we have already, in Clause 2(2) (a), included a reference to experience in the provision of higher education as something to which the Secretary of State must have regard.

My noble friend Lord Pearson made powerful points about the sorts of experience it would be desirable to see represented on the agency. He identified, in particular, experience of academic matters other than teacher education, and the experience of retired persons. There is a very real case for people who come from the subject faculties of higher education to have an input, to address the point that was made so cogently by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and agreed to by many people in the Chamber— the importance of improving the subject competence of our teachers. I wholeheartedly agree with the noble Lord on these points. The existing Clause 2(2) (a) already indicates that we see the potential value of those with experience of providing school education or higher education. The drafting in the Bill does not preclude experience of those matters outside the field of teacher education, so we are already well down the road to meeting my noble friend on this point.

Similarly, I must acknowledge that retired persons with the right blend of experience could make a valuable contribution to the agency. The reference to "current" experience in the drafting of the Bill is common in legislation about new bodies of this sort. It is essential that current experience is included, but that does not preclude the important and valuable aggregated experience of someone immediately past retirement who can make a contribution, and who very often has the time to make a contribution, to such bodies. So I can assure my noble friend that it will in no way preclude the possibility that one or more retired persons could play their part as members of the agency. On that basis I hope that he will feel able to withdraw Amendment No.19.

As regards Amendment No.17, I say to my noble friends Lady Cox and Lord Pearson that I am told that it has a slightly untoward effect as drafted. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend will withdraw this amendment and allow me to look at the possibility of bringing one forward which meets his concerns and which meshes with the points already reflected in Clause 2.

My noble friend Lord Elton asked one or two questions. First, he referred to the specialist panels. I can assure him that the agency will have the power to establish committees. Those committees could include non-members of the agency as wished. The powers come from Schedule 1, paragraph 8. Secondly, my noble friend also questioned the meaning of the membership provisions in Clause 2 of the Bill. Again, I can clarify for him and also give him an assurance that those words are only an indication of desirable areas of experience. They do not exhaust the possibilities, nor indeed do all those areas necessarily have to be present in TTA membership.

There is enormous sympathy here given that teacher training has to address all these issues. I already recognise in principle the importance of Church involvement. I would like to address that at Report stage. Of course it is inconceivable that special need is not in some way reflected in the membership. As to whether there will be something on the face of the Bill I am not prepared to be definitive at this stage. But the interests covered will be absolutely essential, in that the work of the teacher, as we have been reminded, seeks to address the needs of the one in every five of our children in school who at some time in their life have special needs. The requirement now in the statute is that teachers must be equipped to meet the needs of those children. Therefore, the training of those teachers is very important.

9.45 p.m.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I was very disap-pointed with the noble Baroness's reply at first, but she sounds now as though the door is not closed. She said that she was not absolutely certain. Is she saying that she will be willing to discuss the matter further?

Baroness Blatch

I wish to reflect on all that has been said. So many of the categories which have been mentioned are important categories. It is a question of what appears on the Bill and what does not. The fact that a matter does not appear on the face of the Bill raises the question of whether the interests of the affected group are properly met. I wish to reflect on what has been said. I shall perhaps come back on that issue, but if I do not I am fairly certain that the noble Baroness will at Report stage.

The Earl of Radnor

In view of what my noble friend has just said, I hope that something will come out of this reflection. We are talking about a very serious area of teaching involving a number of teachers and a great number of under-performing people whom they are going to teach. I hope that we do not return at Report stage with nothing.

As regards my Amendment No.12 it will not be very good to have people representing any particular facet of education on the agency. Nothing is said at the top of page 2 of the Bill about representation, but it speaks of the "experience of'. That is quite different. I am happy to withdraw my amendment. I certainly reserve the right to come back, probably with the noble Baroness, and put forward something ourselves if my noble friend is unable to.

Baroness Blatch

I hope that my noble friend will take my previous words as an indication that this is not a neglected subject and it will not be one. Perhaps I may make a distinction. We are predominantly speaking here about basic initial teacher training. Just as in nursing we need to start with a sound basic training on which the specialist's special needs training will be developed. So there is a distinction that initial teacher training ought to equip teachers to deal with the normal everyday work of the teacher, which includes in the basic training the importance of identifying children's special needs. The Bills of 1988,1992 and 1993 and this Bill are all dedicated to the needs of all children. The intention is to make sure that special needs are an important part of consideration of the TTA as a whole.

Baroness David

As I opened the debate on these various amendments, perhaps I should now respond. It has been very useful to learn a bit more about the Government's thinking on the members of the agency. My guess is that perhaps eight members will not be enough and that the number will have to be 12. I think that we would probably all like to reflect on what the Minister said, to read through it in Hansard and to decide on what points we should like to come back.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, for his support on Amendment No.8 and to the noble Earl, Lord Russell, who is not in his place, for his support on Amendment No.18. Amendment No.18 is the one that I am most worried about. We really should have somebody there who has experience of and who has shown capacity in research into the theory, practice and management of education. That seems an extremely important amendment, so there is not much doubt that we shall probably come back with it.

I should very much like to read what the Minister said and reflect on it before deciding what we shall come back with. If we manage to have any discussions in the meantime on special educational needs, that will be very useful because that is another extremely important matter. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No.8.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford moved Amendment No.9: Page 2, line 5, leave out ("persons who appear to him").

The right reverend Prelate said: I should like to speak to this amendment briefly because the Minister regretted that I did not refer to the letter that I had received from the Secretary of State. I am not in the business of scoring debating points, but since the Minister has drawn attention to the letter, which I was prepared to regard as private, I think that it is right that the Committee should know what that apology actually comprised. I am grateful for that apology. What the Secretary of State actually said was this: I am sorry that you were not informed of my decisions on the initial membership of the Funding Agency for Schools at the time they were announced. This was a discourtesy on the part of the Department which I have made very clear must not happen again". I am sorry to say that I do not read in that any apology for any failure to consult or be in touch with me. The only apology was for the fact that I was not informed of the appointments at the time that they were announced. I did not wish to draw attention to the letter, but as the Minister implied that I was failing in my duties in not doing so, I feel bound to say that that was the letter that I received.

I understand that the Minister is not entirely happy with my amendment because it is perhaps too far-reaching in that it seeks to ensure that, before appointing any member, the Secretary of State shall consult. That precisely reflects the provisions that the Government included in the 1993 Act. We were merely repeating what: is already in legislation. I do not want to press the point, however, and am immensely grateful to the Minister for indicating that she is prepared to discuss this matter with us further and to try to meet the Churches. I am sorry if, in speaking about what has happened over the funding agency, I have in any way embarrassed the noble Baroness.

Baroness Match

I note what the right reverend Prelate says. Indeed, while he was quoting from it, I re-read the first pan of that letter. The reason that I made it public was that I believed that the right reverend Prelate had told half the story and I wanted to put on the record the distress of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

The right reverend Prelate raises a very important point. Nobody— not even those who are being appointed— are able to know of that appointment until the time of the announcement. It would be quite inappropriate and wholly discourteous to anybody being appointed to a body for a third party, unconnected, to be told of the appointment. What I do think is important is that when the letters went out to those who had been interviewed and to those who were to be appointed, the right reverend Prelate and the other Church authorities should have been told at the same time. Any expectation that such information can go out ahead of that time would present real difficulties for my right honourable friend.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

I do not wish to continue this debate in public, but I thought that the word in the Bill was "consult" not "inform". I think that we should continue this discussion elsewhere, However, I feel that I have to say that what the noble Baroness has just said simply does not meet the anxieties which I have tried to express and which were, I think, echoed by other Members of the Committee. I hope that further discussions elsewhere will produce a more satisfactory result. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.10 to 13 not moved.]

Lord Desai moved Amendment No.14: Page 2, line 7, leave out ("or").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No.14, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos.15,45 and 74. They address the issue of equal opportunities and I shall speak briefly. It is surprising that the Bill omits to mention equal opportunity considerations. It is not necessary for me to point out to the Committee that it is an extremely important issue for the multi-racial society that we are creating in this country. There is a great deal of evidence on the matter in the Swann Report, which was published in 1985, and in the report entitled Set to Fail, published by the Commission on Racial Equality. Hertfordshire County Council has investigated discrimi-nation in admissions. The Department for Education has published a document entitled Exclusions. Those and other documents have made clear that, in respect of under achievement, low expectations held by teachers, discrimination in admissions and the education of children whose first language is not English, a considerable degree of progress must yet be made. It is important that we should make a greater effort to ensure that something better is done in that respect.

Earlier today we discussed teacher performance. It was pointed out that the majority of teachers were all right but that there were problems in respect of 15 to 20 per cent. We must do better in that respect. A similar problem exists in respect of this issue. Although the total number of children concerned is not large— it is about 5 or 6 per cent. — in certain inner city areas the proportion is large. It is important that we do not let those children fail and allow them to be blighted throughout their lives. It is also necessary that a member of the teacher training authority should have an appreciation of the importance of equal opportunity policies and be able to bring those to bear directly on the deliberations of the authority.

The second set of considerations relates to teacher recruitment and is dealt with in Amendments Nos.45 and 74. The problem is that we are failing to recruit in sufficient quantity teachers from the ethnic minorities. I shall not bore the Committee with statistics, which have been clearly pointed out in a CRE publication entitled Ethnic Minority School Teachers and in the UCCA report of 1993. We are failing both in terms of teacher recruitment and as regards the willingness of students to enter teacher training in schools.

One of the relevant questions is: do institutions which run teacher training courses practise an equal opportunities policy? That is extremely important. We must see to it that institutions have equal opportunities policies and that we have some means of monitoring that those policies are implemented. Amendment No.45 adds to Clause 5 a new clause which states that consideration should be taken of the existence of an equal opportunities policy and the means of its implementation.

It may be argued that such formal consideration is rather bureaucratic but I do not believe that that is the case. We have adopted such practices in other areas and we should be able to follow that best practice.

Amendment No.74 deals with information gathering and how to make information available. The amendment follows the wording of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. It basically says that, just as is carried out in the National Health Service and the criminal justice system, we should collect data on the ethnic minorities in teacher training. That would enable the teacher training agency to see to it that we do better than we do at present in terms of equal opportunities. I beg to move.

10 p.m.

Lord Renton

Frankly, I should not expect my noble friend to accept the amendment. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Desai, that we all believe in equality of opportunity; and thank goodness we have had that to a greater and ever increasing extent in this country for some generations now. I hope that it will improve with each generation. But to write that provision into this clause, which deals with the choosing of members of the teacher training agency, is to my mind somewhat inappropriate.

How is anyone to find out whether a person has been good at or has had experience of "delivery of equality of opportunity"? I suppose that it could be said that we have all tried to do that. I hope that I do not appear to be too frivolous when I say that I find the drafting of the amendment to be very odd. It is almost like saying that we want a delivery of a quantity of groceries in particular front gardens. To write such a provision into the statute does not seem to me to be appropriate in regard to a matter on which we are all agreed. It does not need to be contained in a statute at all.

Lord Judd

I warmly support the amendments. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Renton, will forgive me for saying that he seemed to show a degree of complacency about the situation in this country. I do not share that at all. When we look at the matter in the sphere of education, it is quite disturbing. In the context of this short debate, we must re-emphasise the point that the 1988 survey found that only 2 per cent. of teachers were of ethnic minority origin whereas the average ethnic minority population of the United Kingdom stood at 5.5 per cent. In most of the eight areas surveyed it was higher than that, one at 26 per cent. and one at 33.5 per cent. It is also significant that in the same year, the same report showed that 24 per cent. of applications to study medicine were from Asian students and 7 per cent. Of applications for law courses were from black students. Apart from the general situation, that suggests that there is a special need for action in the sphere of education.

The other point which should be stressed is that, if we are to tackle this issue successfully, it is necessary to introduce a system of monitoring. That has been done in both the National Health Service and the criminal justice system. It is proving to be a way in which specific progress can be made.

I hope that the Minister will be able to give us a reassuring reply. However, in conclusion I should say that one of the greatest difficulties in our society is that very many people believe that we are OK on this front and believe that their own attitudes are OK and are quite unaware that, seen from the perspective of the ethnic minority, they are far from being so. The issue is now being taken very seriously in legal quarters. For example, it is being taken very seriously by judges, and others, on training courses. If we can do more within the sphere of education, we shall be serving the future of the country, in its multi-ethnic condition, well indeed.

Lord Skidelsky

The aspect of the amendments which appeals especially to me is the issue of monitoring; in other words, just finding out. A single agency set up to oversee all aspects of education would be in an ideal position to collect data about the ethnic origins of those entering the teaching profession. That is something that we would like to know. The collection and monitoring of such data would, in turn, facilitate properly-targeted steps to ensure equality of opportunity.

It is possible that there is already a means in existence for collecting such information. However, I do not believe that there is. To obtain and publish such data would not be too costly. Indeed, it would require an official and a computer. But the benefit in terms of informing policy would far exceed the cost. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will give consideration to accepting the spirit of the proposal.

Earl Russell

I should like to tell the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that I believe that this is an area in which it is not only necessary for justice to be done, but also that it should be seen to be done. In his back to basics interview, to which I have already referred, the Prime Minister drew attention to a growing disrespect for our institutions. I also see that, and I regret it. It is most important that that should be slowed down and, preferably, reversed. One of the reasons for that disrespect may be that people, because of their race— or for any other reason— feel that they are stuck outside the shop window looking in. It is a state of mind which encourages a good deal of anger.

My views about racial discrimination go back to the time when I was a small child in the United States and was picked on for being English. That raised in me a slow-burning fuse of resentment. In other cases, I can imagine that the feeling may be stronger. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, wishes to intervene. I give way.

Lord Renton

I am most grateful to the noble Earl for giving way. Surely, racial discrimination is quite a separate matter and a somewhat narrower one than that covered by the thought of equal opportunity. In any event, racial discrimination is covered by legislation that we have expressly for the purpose of preventing it.

Earl Russell

We have here a series of categories which overlap. I agree with what the noble Lord said about the prohibition of racial discrimination. However, it is generally perceived by members of any group of people who feel that they may be subject to discrimination— and those groups are many— that there is often a process of stereotyping and of differential expectations. That is widely perceived, with some excuse, to be discriminatory in its effect. For example, girls who want to take science sometimes have such an experience. Indeed, I believe that there was a case in today 's newspapers of a girl who was turned down for a job as a garage mechanic because she was thought to be too dainty for the work. That is the sort of area where lack of equality of opportunity and discrimination can very easily merge into each other. That was the sort of situation that I had in mind.

Baroness Blatch

Equal opportunities issues will, quite rightly, be among those to which the agency will have to have regard in carrying out all its functions. The Bill extends the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act to the agency's funding functions, making it unlawful for the agency to exercise them in a way which constitutes sex or race discrimination.

I have listened carefully to the debate and the case made by the noble Lord, Lord Desai, for the inclusion of experience of the delivery of equality of opportunity within the membership of the agency. I recognise that the current drafting of Clause 2 does not list all the areas of experience that might be desirable within such a body.

There is a particular reason why we should not add the suggested reference to equality of opportunity on the face of the Bill. It is not because this is an unimportant issue. Of course, it is of vital importance, as my noble friend Lord Renton said. But it is so vital that we already have legislation covering the activities of education establishments and others which outlaw discrimination on the grounds of race or sex and make the delivery of equality of opportunity a requirement for every possible member of the agency— not an activity of a minority to be represented upon it.

I would certainly not wish to deny that there are those who have particular knowledge and experience in equal opportunity issues whose expertise might be very valuable to the agency. I can assure the Committee that we will not ignore such experience when considering possible appointees to the agency. I hope therefore that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment about membership.

I turn now to the issues raised by another of the noble Lord's amendments, Amendment No.45, relating to equal opportunities policies. The agency's concern to promote and raise standards of teaching means that it will want to encourage the most promising candidates from all backgrounds and may well decide, as the funding council has done in this area, to support projects designed to attract applicants from groups which are traditionally under-represented in the teaching force. I would not, however, want to widen the agency's remit, as the amendment does, to require it, in effect, to monitor the application of the race relations and sex discrimination Acts in schools and higher education. There are already mechanisms in place in those Acts for that, and they should be kept distinct.

Important messages have been sent not only to further education colleges but also to higher education institutions and schools about their responsibilities. The Government have made clear that racial harassment and discrimination have no place in the education service. Schools and colleges have an important responsibility to work towards the promotion of equality of opportunity for the different ethnic groups who are part of our national life.

I noted particular concern that schools, as new providers of initial teacher training, may perhaps lag behind the traditional higher education providers in having clear policies to safeguard equality of opportunity. I believe, however, that this overlooks the wide experience that schools have of operating within existing legislation in this field, helped by guidance from the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission, and indeed the Department for Education, which includes a chapter about equal opportunities in the Guide to the Law given toevery single school governor in England.

Finally, I turn to the noble Lord's amendment concerning the provision of information by schools and institutions to the agency about equal opportunities policies. The Secretary of State can, under Clause 14, ask for information on any matters which relate to the agency's responsibilities. So there would not be anything to be gained by this reference.

However, I recognise that there is a case, as my noble friend Lord Skidelsky pointed out, for data to he collected on ethnic minority entry into teaching. The agency may well want to play a role. There are already independent agencies — the Graduate Teacher Training Registry, for example— which either collect such data now or may choose to do so in future. Ofsted will certainly have much relevant information. I do not believe that it would be right for the legislation to imply that the agency must have the central role in ethnic monitoring of this kind, or indeed in collecting and passing on to central government policies or other material relevant to equal opportunities.

I stress again that equal opportunities will be one of the agency's concerns for legal and practical reasons and, we consider, for desirable reasons. But we must beware of getting this one strand of its activity— however important — out of proportion and seeming to give the agency a role for which it has not been designed and which it will not be well placed to discharge.

I take the point that my noble friend Lord Renton made a moment ago. How does a body of this size detect particular discriminatory behaviour in a school that is situated many miles away? Let us take the example of a school that has no ethnic minority appointment on its staff. Is that a case for deeming that it is in breach of the law in these matters? If there is no prima-facie evidence of a breach, what kind of investigation will take place of any particular institution, given that there are 25,000 schools in the country, to establish whether the reason for there not being an ethnic minority appointment is that the school has been breaching the law or simply that that happens to be the case and the school has acted entirely properly? I agree that it would be impracticable. However, I have taken note of the point about monitoring.

10.15 p.m.

Lord Desai

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply, although I am not entirely happy with it. The point has to be made that we have laws banning racial discrimination and we need something much more positive in relation to equal opportunities. While it is no doubt difficult and complicated to do that, that is no reason for not being explicit and bold on the subject.

I recognise the difficulties in relation to monitoring. I did not say that we would like a quota and that in every school there has to be somebody from an ethnic minority. That is not the problem. The problem is whether every institution has an equal opportunities policy. Can we be sure that when such people are not represented that is for a perfectly good reason? Can we be sure that at the macro level we are doing enough? Unless we monitor the situation carefully we shall not advance at the rate which is necessary and we shall not be seen to advance.

I shall read carefully in Hansard what the noble Baroness said. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.15 to 22 not moved.]

Clause 2 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [The Teacher Training Agency]:

Lord Judd moved Amendment No.23: Page 16, line 8, after ("State") insert ("a representative of the Office for Standards in Education and a representative of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority").

The noble Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No.23 I should like to speak also to Amendment No.24. I can be extremely brief. The amendments permit representatives of SCAA and Ofsted to attend meetings of the TTA. We believe that this is important to ensure there is an appropriate flow of information between the different agencies so that where necessary cross-referencing can take place. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

I entirely support the case for a close working relationship between the teacher training agency and Ofsted, which will be advising the agency on the quality of teacher training provision. I am sure that that will develop rapidly and will be made much easier by Ofsted having one body to advise it on accreditation and funding issues rather than three— the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, the Higher Education Funding Council and the Department for Education. I am also sure that the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the agency will want to exchange information, although the working links will be less close.

The Secretary of State's criteria require teacher training courses to prepare students to teach the statutory curriculum, but it will be Ofsted which will be monitoring that in detail and not the agency. The agency needs a general understanding of the issues and the likely demands of the teacher training system which will stem from curriculum developments of various kinds, whether or not they are added by the Secretary of State to his criteria in due course.

However, I do not think that it would be right to legislate to give either of those bodies an absolute right of access to meetings and papers in cases where the agency wants to keep them at bay. The only need for legislation is to allow for such enforcement. While it is right that the Secretary of State should have fall-back powers— which I hope we shall not need to use— because of his responsibility for establishing and funding the agency, it would not be consistent with the agency's independence to give others the same rights.

I am aware that the 1993 Act gave Her Majesty's inspectorate those rights in respect of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, but that is a body whose aims are so tightly linked to those of Ofsted that it would be hard to imagine any business which was not of mutual concern. There are not the same rights for HMI in respect of the Funding Agency for Schools because they will have business which may not be so directly relevant to the proper concerns of Her Majesty's inspectors. I believe that the teacher training agency should follow the funding agency model rather than that of the SCAA. I do not believe that very much divides us on the point. What is absolutely certain is that there is the closest possible relationship between these bodies, but I hope that an absolute legal entitlement to attend will not be supported.

Lord Judd

One thing that I will say for the Minister is that she always gives a very full reply. She has said some very positive things that we shall need to look at very closely. I find the reply rather reassuring, and in those circumstances I seek leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.24 and 25 not moved.]

Schedule I agreed to.

Clause 3 [The funding agencies]:

[Amendment No.26 not moved].

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Qualifying activities and eligible institutions:]

Baroness Perry of Southwark moved Amendment No.27: Page 2, line 37, after ("provision") insert ("of the pedagogical elements of a course").

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this amendment is to remove the ability to fund the subject study element of a course of initial teacher training from the new teacher training agency and to leave it where it currently is with the Higher Education Funding Council. In the debate earlier I was very pleased that the opinion of the Committee was very strongly in favour of teacher training courses being wholly funded by the new teacher training agency. I was also very pleased that in the course of that debate there was strong support for the importance of keeping the teachers' study of the subjects that they would teach within the main stream of higher education.

It is my view that there is no more important gift that a teacher brings to pupils than the teacher's enthusiasm, knowledge and genuine intellectual curiosity in the subject that he or she teaches. What is probably more important than any of the other skills that the teacher has is the ability lo inspire excitement and curiosity in the subject that is being taught.

I believe that it will normally be assumed that somebody who teaches, particularly at the secondary level— although I will turn to the primary sector in a moment— will have learned the subject that he or she is to teach in the main stream of higher education: in the department of physics if the teacher is to teach physics, in the department of history if the teacher is to teach history, and so on. Alas, this is not always the case. In some cases the teacher trainers, who are not necessarily main line subject specialists, still have to undertake the teaching of the teacher's subject knowledge. In my view, that is a very second-rate preparation for a secondary teacher, I believe that even in the case of teachers of primary age children, particularly those towards the top end of the primary school, their in-depth knowledge of subjects is very important. Young children remember for a very long time what is said by their teachers. An ignorant and uneducated teacher in the subject that is being taught can do great damage, whereas a teacher who can light up the subject and make it exciting can also encourage an enthusiasm for and love of learning of that subject for life.

My fear is that the result of the Bill as it stands will not be what the Government intend; that is, to encourage people to send teacher training students back into their departments of education for their subject study. It will be very much easier for the vice-chancellors to say that the funding for the whole of the course comes from one single source— the teacher training agency— and therefore the whole of the teaching will be done in the teacher training department. I believe that that would be a very unfortunate result. I am sure that the Government would not want that to happen. Therefore, although this is only a probing amendment I very much hope that the Minister will be able to say something encouraging about the Government's. intent.

Baroness Match

I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Perry for the constructive way in which she has spoken to this important issue. I understand the motives for it— and I support much of what she has said so far. The importance of newly qualified teachers having the necessary knowledge and understanding of the subjects to underpin effective teaching is one of the key criteria for courses of initial training and will remain so.

The need for specialist subject study is particularly important at secondary level and the top end of primary schools where specialist teachers are increasingly used when opportunity permits. The arguments about specialism are more complex in relation to primary classroom teachers who deal with all nine subjects of the primary national curriculum and religious education. To meet the needs of these teachers for a wide subject base, we have proposed a six-subject primary Bachelor of Education course which covers a number of subjects at reasonable depth, rather than one or two in depth and the rest somewhat superficially. But such courses will still be at first degree level and will be offered and validated by higher education institutions.

I hope I can reassure my noble friend that there is no threat to the current position under the Bill as drafted. I see no encouragement for any particular pattern of subject study, or its separation from subject departments within universities and colleges. I do, however, see a strong push for higher standards, and quality of subject study will clearly be one important factor which the agency will want to consider in deciding on the relative merits of courses when making its funding decisions. Ofsted in its reports on the quality of education departments will reflect among other factors the way in which good subject knowledge makes for better teacher training. Higher Education Funding Council quality assessments on subject departments will also be relevant — a course which is known to draw on subject study in an excellent subject department will clearly have an advantage.

I do, however, see two serious problems with the amendment before us. One is essentially administrative and one more fundamental. The administrative difficulties would arise both for the TTA and for institutions. There would need to be a completely new approach to funding. This would have to involve a pro rata approach based on the time taken on the pedagogical elements of each and every course. There is no precedent for defining or separately funding subject study in teacher training courses. Nor is there any easy distinction to be drawn between subject study and subject application— which would predominantly fall into the pedagogical category. Disentangling the two for primary Bachelor of Education students studying 10 subjects would be very difficult. There is no convenient way of calculating or checking this. The distinction between subject and professional studies, for example, does not simply relate to the time a student is in a higher education institution compared with the time spent in school.

Even if the subject study could be separately identified, there is the question of who would fund it if not the teacher training agency. The Higher Education Funding Council could do so for courses provided by higher education institutions, but the teacher training agency would not be able to fund the subject study in school-centred courses. Small as that might be in some cases, I am sure the Committee would not like to see postgraduate courses running with no subject study at all.

But the real difficulty with this amendment is in its potential effect on the ability of the teacher training agency to fulfil its role. The problem is that it would be much harder for the agency to identify and therefore reward the most cost-effective, high quality training. Instead of looking at, say, all Bachelor of Education provision on a comparable basis, it would see a fractured picture. The most expensive courses in the agency's terms would be those which had most pedagogical training and which might therefore lose out. We certainly want sufficient high quality subject study, but not at the expense of high quality professional training, which is equally vital if schools are to have effective teachers.

I hope that my noble friend will see the strength and the force of being able to have quality assessment information about where the best subject study is provided in higher education to make sure that the judgments are made by the funding agency to ensure that those courses are properly supported. I hope that with those assurances my noble friend will feel it appropriate to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

I thank the Minister for her detailed and thoughtful reply. I am not at all sure that I accept the administrative difficulties of separating out the parts of an undergraduate course, particularly where the students are following the same course as people on a mainstream degree in engineering, history or whatever else it is. There I believe it is possible to identify half the course, two years or whatever it is. I do not believe that postgraduate courses pose a problem because they are all pedagogy. No one should be learning the subject they will teach at the postgraduate level. So there would not be a problem with postgraduate study. However, I am grateful to the Minister for her sympathetic response and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Judd moved Amendment No.28: Page 2, line 37, leave out ("training") and insert ("education").

The noble Lord said: I believe that this a profoundly important amendment which goes right to the centre of the whole purpose of the Bill and related matters. Obviously there is not time to debate it fully at this hour, and therefore I shall be extremely brief.

What the amendment seeks to establish is that in the preparation of our teachers we are talking about "education" and not simply about "training". We think that it is extremely unfortunate that at this crucial point in the Bill the word "training" is used instead of "education". The Minister would do a great deal to assist morale and reassure the House if she could simply say this evening that she takes the point and will see that the change is made.

Lord Renton

It seems to me that paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of Clause 4 between them give us all that the noble Lord would wish to have and give us what we ought to have. Paragraph (a), which he wishes to alter, refers to, the provision of teacher training". As a funding agency, the teacher training agency has to consider the funding of teacher training. I would have thought that it would be missing out on its main purpose if it did not. But to console the noble Lord, he will find in paragraph (b) that among the activities qualifying for funding is, the provision of higher education in, or the undertaking of research into, the theory, practice and management of education". The Bill gives us the best of both worlds. I do not see what the noble Lord is worrying about.

Baroness Blatch

What is in a word? No definition of the term is offered in this amendment, and I am not sure that I have been properly enlightened by what I have heard so far.

I do not find the concept of the training of teachers demeaning. Doctors, lawyers and captains of industry are all quite happy to talk about their professional or management training which ensures that they have the skills that they need to carry out their important tasks. Graduates compete vigorously to be taken on as trainees in large organisations. Training is an attractive option, not a deterrent.

"Teacher training" is already a term used in legislation, and has been so used since 1944. It is used in the awards regulations as well as in the teachers regulations. It is clear and unambiguous. A power to fund teacher education could cover any course taken by an intending or serving teacher, including the first degree taken by someone who goes on to do postgraduate training and a serving teacher's evening classes in car maintenance.

We want the agency to fund courses which are clearly designed to develop the ability of trainee teachers to meet the demands of their future profession. That may include increasing their subject expertise through higher education in a particular discipline. There is no problem about that being part, as now, of courses defined as teacher training. But we do not want to open the definition wider into territory which is properly the concern of other funders.

I understand that many teacher training sections in higher education institutions wish to refer to themselves as providers of teacher education. That is perhaps natural. They clearly operate within departments or faculties of education. But there is nothing in this Bill that will change that, or compel them to change their chosen labels.

The term "teacher training" is used consistently in legislation. It is well understood by the public. There is nothing sinister in it. If it smacks of well-focused and purposeful activity, then I am glad. But anyone who believes that it is somehow sinister, and that the teacher training agency will fund only narrow, utilitarian courses, is wide of the mark. Teacher training will continue to be regulated by the Secretary of State's criteria and I can assure noble Lords that those criteria will remain as broad and as balanced as they are at present.

Lord Judd

That is just about the most depressing reply that I could have expected from the Minister. It seems to me that, far from reassuring us, it underlines all the anxieties that we have about the absence of vision and the demeaning purpose of this legislation, together with other legislation that has been undertaken.

The preparation of teachers is about education, of which training is a part. It is not about training of which education is a part. We cannot have it both ways. If we are saying that the really inspirational element is the whole quality of the approach to education— the knowledge, understanding and love of the subject and the ability to communicate it— and then on top of that one is acquiring skills, classroom experience and so on to help one to deploy that to good effect, then we have the matter in proportion.

I hope that I am allowed to say in this Chamber that I have become very fond of the Minister during these long deliberations together. So often she puts herself out to try to meet us and she always gives very full responses. But every now and then we come up against a moment of truth when we realise that there is a yawning gulf between her perception and our perception on this side of the Chamber. What creates maximum anxiety on these Benches is that the Government have no vision about the challenge to teachers and the future of education. I am very sad indeed that she has not felt able to respond tonight.

However, looking at the Committee and being a realist, in view of the hour, I feel that I have no option but—

Baroness Blatch

I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Despite the flattery that he has just dispensed across the Dispatch Box, perhaps I could say to him that I think that it was mightily ungenerous to take that view of what we are about in this Bill.

We have talked at considerable length today about quality and making sure that our teachers are trained well to meet the challenges of the classroom. We have spoken about graduate entry into the profession, the highest possible subject competence and all the safeguards of those interests. I feel that simply because we are not prepared to concede the word "education" for "training", when education is a very large part of that training, is extremely ungenerous. I hope that he will not think, because I gave him a technical answer — a real technical answer because a good deal of teacher education goes on which is not about training for teachers in the classroom— that somehow or other I am subordinating the importance of the quality of education in training for our teachers.

Lord Judd

Obviously we must have a very full debate on this subject at some more suitable hour. I do not want to be unfair. I hate to be ungenerous and I do not want to add unfairness to that, if that is what the Minister feels that I have been doing. But when she reads her words she will see that she took as her examples management trainees in industry and so on. I want to see very good training in industry for management and the rest. But education is about something far bigger than that. Within the context of education we then narrow down to specific areas of management training and the rest for particular applications in particular sectors of society. But the whole point about education is that it sets a much wider context.

Lord Swinfen

I thank the noble Lord for allowing me to intervene. Perhaps I may take an example which is not from business or industry but from academia. There can be a very highly educated historian who without the proper training in teaching is unable to impart to pupils any of the history that he or she knows. It is the training in teaching in that particular subject that is important.

The noble Lord can walk through Venice and his education will be improved, but it may not help his training in any degree at all.

Lord Judd

I am very much obliged to the noble Lord for his intervention. He is somebody for whom I have great admiration. But on this point we must agree to differ. To me it is absolutely clear that a teacher will not be much use unless he has specific training in the techniques which will enable him to make the best possible applied use of his knowledge. But unless teachers are educated in the fullest sense, no amount of technical training will add up to anything. That is the point I make.

I believe that the Minister in the department has got the priorities wrong. What has been said tonight has underlined all my anxieties. However, because of the hour and because I am sure that the Minister, who is extremely sporting about these matters and enjoys a debate, will be glad to return to the subject at some future date, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Radnor moved Amendment No.29: Page 2, line 37, at end insert: ("(aa) the provision of teacher training related to specific learning difficulties; ").

The noble Earl said: The wording of Amendment No.29 is similar to the wording of my earlier amendment. As I said when I spoke to the earlier amendment, Amendment No.29 has a little more meat to it. It requires, the provision of teacher training related to specific learning difficulties", to be included in the list of those matters that can he funded. The arguments are the same, so I shall not repeat them. However, since I last spoke I have had a little time for reflection. As I believe I indicated, I was extremely disappointed with my noble friend's reply. But I felt that this matter was too wide to be encompassed and again asked her whether she would take the matter away and reconsider it.

Amendment No.35 is something more or less dear to her heart. It would prevent anyone from obtaining money for special needs of any sort— I do not mind what the wording is; it can be widened— unless that person is a teacher. There is no point in retracing my steps. All I say is that it is absolutely wrong that a Bill such as this should contain nothing in relation to special educational needs. I hope that my noble friend will go away and think how this point can be worked in to suit herself, and then we can see how it suits us. Or we can perhaps discuss the matter.

We are dealing not just with teachers but, as I said earlier, with the people whom teachers teach, It is a large block of pupils who cannot be ignored. If once more it should be said that it is all dealt with through the various agencies and the local education authorities, then I can only say, as I said before, that that is a variable feast which is rather unreliable at the moment. The proof of the pudding is that it is not working.

I have been president of the Dyslexia Foundation for 21 years; we teach teachers, and they pay for it. But they cannot pay quite enough. It costs us £ 85,000 a year and sometimes one wonders who is meant to be funding whom. Perhaps I may conclude by quoting my noble friend, who said at Second Reading that she wanted, a vigorous and independent body dedicated to teacher training and able to address it in all its aspects". — (Official Report, 7/12/93; col.820.) This is not just "all" its aspects; it is an extremely important aspect and I hope that on Report we will, between us, be able to come up with something better than we have seen this evening. I beg to move.

Baroness Cox

The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, is unable to be here due to a very long-standing commitment and asked me, with the leave of the Committee, to speak briefly to Amendments Nos.30 and 31, which are in his name. Therefore, with the leave of the Committee, I shall say just a few words to each of those amendments.

With regard to Amendment No.30, the atmosphere and ethos of a school, which makes it possible for teachers to teach and for pupils to learn effectively, depends to a considerable extent on the head teacher. The job of a head is a very different one from that of a classroom teacher or even the head of a department. The job cannot be taught effectively in short periods of in-service training. It can be argued, therefore, that there is a need for proper training; courses especially for head teachers which might take place, for example, during a sabbatical term or some other such sabbatical period. Amendment No.30 is designed to enable the teacher training agency to fund such courses specifically for heads.

In regard to Amendment No.31, the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, wishes me to emphasise that this is a probing amendment. It is meant to highlight the fact that education is a continuing process, from birth through to adulthood. It is not enough to assume that parents can educate pre-school children without some support and advice just because they have once been children themselves. Prospective parents need to understand the emotional needs of young children for security, stimulation and boundaries of acceptable behaviour. As toddlers grow up, they need to learn to interact with others their own age and to trust adults around them. They need the socialising influence of attending perhaps a playgroup or a family centre with their parents before being launched into school, whether it be nursery school or reception class. Parents who play with their children and stimulate their interest— perhaps even teach them to read, which I would argue is most important— help their child to make an easy transition to school and to start easily to learn once they are in the formal education system. The purpose of this amendment is to enable the agency to fund as appropriate organisations which train and support parents as their child's first teacher. Those are the ideas behind the two amendments which I wish to put forward for the Committee's consideration.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Addington

I wish to speak to Amendment No.29, which has my name to it. The noble Earl spoke with considerable force about the need to try to get something about special educational needs into the Bill. There is another capacity in which his amendment is incredibly interesting, in that it actually uses the longhand for the problem of dyslexia. Has the Minister any thoughts on this or is any thinking going on in the department? I do not expect an answer tonight. Has the noble Baroness thought about trying to write into the curriculum individual types of learning difficulty?

I know that we have made great progress in previous Bills with the idea of making provision. Indeed, the noble Baroness has been very much to the fore in making sure that a new code of practice is well written. But I would ask her whether she has given any thought to the idea of writing individual types of disability into government drafting, as every type requires a different type of teaching. I realise that this may be just the start of a long process, but if the noble Baroness has any thoughts on the matter I should very much like to hear them. I also support what the noble Earl said about trying to get something into the Bill on the general degree of special educational needs as it is such a large field.

Baroness David

I wish to speak briefly to Amendments Nos.30 and 31. I do not feel very strongly about Amendment No.30. It seems to me that in-service training would be very adequate and I believe that GEST money sometimes goes to preparing teachers to become head teachers. I support Amendment No.31 very much on the lines of what I said on an earlier amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Northboume. Children spend a great deal of time with their parents — far longer than they spend in school— and I do think that something in the training of teachers could be included. Training for parents as well is extremely important. I support that amendment.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

I wonder whether I may just cast a little doubt on Amendment No.35. I am sure it was not in the mind of the noble Earl when he put down the amendment but I fear that it might preclude funding in future for very worthy schools and courses, such as the curative education course of the Rudolph Steiner Camphill movement. I have the same worry when we come to Amendments Nos.41 and 48. At the moment these courses and the communities in which they take place do not appeal for public funding of the nature envisaged by the Bill but I think it possible that they might in future.

I must declare an interest as the father of a mentally handicapped child who has the great good fortune to attend a Sheiling Community school, whose teachers, or co-workers as they are called, have all been trained in the curative curriculum to which I have just referred.

This curriculum certainly does not provide for its students to go to institutions of higher education. The teachers do not normally have a teacher education certificate in the manner which I believe is envisaged by this amendment. I would not want to say anything more about that at the moment. It appears possible to me that the movers of the amendment have not thought of this difficulty and I would not want it to escape unnoticed at this stage of the Bill.

Baroness Blatch

Turning to the areas of specific learning difficulties, I have heard the strong support for the teacher training agency taking over funding for some types of courses from the local authorities. I recognise the force of those arguments. But I believe that it is right to review the evidence before making a final decision on the right way ahead.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked whether the Government have considered writing in on the face of the Bill specific categories of special needs. It is a very difficult matter to consider because I would like to think that the education service as envisaged both in this Bill and other education Bills, is to serve the needs of all children with whatever learning difficulties they may have and that they should be properly addressed. Once one goes down the road of specifying particular learning categories then one has all the problems of inclusivity and exclusivity.

We have recently conducted a survey asking LEAs about their use of funding for special needs teacher training under the: 1993– 94 grants for education support and training programme. It has been argued that transferring the funding arrangements for certain long courses to the agency could help safeguard the existence of these courses and free the GEST programme to support other areas of special educational needs teacher training. We shall certainly look carefully at that proposition i n the light of the evidence we have received from the survey. However, even if that were to be done, it would not be necessary to amend this Bill.

So as regards the powers of the Bill, it will be possible to accommodate whatever comes from that work. With that assurance, I hope that the noble Lord will not press the amendment.

Turning now to the amendment about head teachers presented by my noble friend Lady Cox, let me say at once that I share the view about the value of high quality training for head teachers. Studies consistently show that it is the quality of the head teacher which has the most significant impact on the quality of the school. With the increasing devolution of responsibilities to schools, through self-governing status and local management: of schools, it is even more essential that head teachers should have well-developed leadership, management and administrative skills.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England does have a role in in-service provision, in the sense that heads, and other serving teachers, may choose to take higher degrees which are funded by the council alongside other higher education courses. Under our proposals that funding responsibility would pass to the teacher training agency.

I know that the head teacher associations and others would like us to consider some new approaches to funding for some or all management training, which might involve the teacher training agency in the central administration of funds. Our minds are certainly not closed to that and we are continuing to discuss and consider other options.

But such a role for the teacher training agency is entirely compatible with the Bill as drafted. For the purpose of all its provision, teacher training includes head teacher training. We do not need to add anything to the Bill to allow the TTA to fund some of that training if that seems right. I hope with my assurance that the powers that this amendment seeks are already in the Bill, and that our minds are far from closed about their possible use, that my noble friend Lady Cox will be content not to move the amendment.

I turn finally to the amendment on parents as the child's first teachers. As so often, I find myself in complete agreement with much of what I know the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, would have said had he been here and what other Members of the Committee have said. I appreciate the enormous importance of the role of parents in educating their children. Parents must take the central role in instilling a code of values and of behaviour which their children will take throughout life. But they also have an important role to play before children arrive at school in laying the foundations for successful education; in support of the school at the early stages in the teaching and practice of basic skills; and later in the encouragement of homework and research, so as to help their children achieve to the very best of their ability.

The importance in early childhood of stimulating play, exposure to books, hearing and talking with adults, is now well recognised. All children should have access to these experiences. They are not expensive luxuries, but accessible to all. In many cases, it will be parents who offer this stimulus, often shared with other carers, whether a grandmother helping out a working mother, or paid helpers in a day nursery or a childminder's own home.

The Government have supported several measures which encourage parents to take a more active role in their children's education and give them more influence and information. To take only a few examples, we have guaranteed places for parents on governing bodies, funded pre-school playgroups and provided much more information on schools' and pupils' performance. Local authorities are also free to develop schemes which bring parents into the classroom, and a number have done so with enthusiasm.

The government-funded Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit is currently administering a new programme involving both parents and their children. It is known as the family literacy initiative. Parents also play an important role in the work of playgroups. Nearly all playgroups involve parents in some way. Around 250,000 parents, for example, are active in running Pre-school Playgroups Association playgroups.

In terms of education for parenthood, the Education Reform Act 1988 requires that the curriculum as a whole for all maintained schools should prepare young people for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. Adult relationships, marriage and parenthood are among those responsibilities. Within national curriculum science, pupils aged 11 to 14 are required to learn about, the factors necessary for the well-being of young children in the early stages of their development". Despite what Members of the Committee have said, I do not think there is a distinct role for the teacher training agency in this area. I have mentioned on a number of occasions that it is to be a specialist agency. That will be its strength. It will have a very clear focus on teacher education and training. There are objectives in Clause 1 to reflect that. The agency must concentrate on maintaining and improving the standards of initial teacher education and training for the 60,000 students on courses leading to qualified teacher status. To extend its responsibility to the very different and complex training needs of millions of parents would be to divert its energies and, indeed, its resources from this vital task. It is for that reason that I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment and that, in doing so, he will take note of some of the difficulties mentioned by my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

The Earl of Radnor

I am most grateful to my noble friend for that reply. I shall read Hansard carefully and consider what she has said in more detail before deciding whether to return to the matter at a later stage. I am grateful also to my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch for the point that he made. It had eluded me, but it is obviously of some, if not considerable, importance. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.31 and 32 not moved.]

11 p.m.

Earl Russell moved Amendment No.32: Page 2, leave out lines 38 and 39.

The noble Earl said: The words that I seek to delete are those giving the teacher training agency responsibility for, the provision of higher education in, or the undertaking of research into, the theory, practice and management of education". After Clause 1, this is, for me, the second most important feature of the Bill. Encouraged by what the noble Baroness said earlier and given the hour of the night, I shall take slightly less time than I would otherwise. However, the issue deserves a minute or two.

There is considerable concern among universities at what is perceived as an attempted amputation of a subject from higher education. Everybody dislikes amputation. The only normal justification is that the amputated limb was rotten. We do not recognise that to be the case. I hope that the Minister does not maintain it to be the case. I do not believe that she does.

In the working of higher education, there is increasingly a constant inter-relationship between subjects. To have one subject taken out of the ambit of all the others, administered by a different agency, with different funding rules, different formulae and different ways of carrying on, will create problems which will be very much akin to those of dual nationality. I believe that that would be awkward. It is also important to understand that education as an academic subject extends far beyond the scope of teacher training. It is a subject which touches at every turn some other subject — history, philosophy and psychology, to mention only a few.

The day before yesterday the Secretary of State spoke at my college on the teaching of values. Happily, his speech was entirely undisturbed. He raised some big issues. Those issues to be properly considered would involve knowledge and understanding of the works of Plato, Aquinas, Locke and Mill, to mention only a few. They are not issues which I would expect everybody involved in teacher training to need to have at their finger-tips. To study such issues one needs a proper academic context. On that occasion the person in the chair was the chaplin, which was entirely appropriate to the occasion. If one wrenches education as a subject out of its academic matrix one will make these subject links very much more difficult.

The other problem, of course, is that education is not by any means sufficiently defined in the Bill. The words are: the theory, practice and management of education". It does not state "school education". Perhaps I may take an example in which I must declare an interest. My wife works in Oxford University on the 16th century. Should she wish to investigate the Vatican's interest, if any, in the Catholic restoration under Mary Tudor and wish to apply for a grant to work at the Vatican, would she then have to apply to the teacher training agency? I do not believe that that is the appropriate body for the subject.

Or again, if someone wants to work on cathedral schools in 12th century France, as people often do— that is a subject on which work should be done— I do not believe that it should come within the purview of the teacher training agency. Or yet again, the chairman of Ofsted, wearing his academic hat as a professor of the philosophy of religion, might well have been supervising a thesis on Locke, for which he might have wanted as the external examiners one professor of history and one professor of education. That would seem to me a perfectly logical academic combination; and to have the one subject taken out of the matrix— administered separately— would seem to be an entirely unnecessary interference with links between subjects, which are growing, need to continue to grow and should not be disturbed. I beg to move.

The Chairman of Committees

If this amendment is agreed to I shall be unable to call Amendments Nos.33 and 34.

Lord Skidelsky

Perhaps I may speak to Amendment No.33 at this point. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Russell, that this is one of the keys to the Bill and that therefore we need to spend a little time on it. My noble friend Lady Carnegy regrets that she cannot be here because she has had to take a train to Scotland.

The purpose of the amendment is to give the teacher training agency the power to fund research into initial teacher training without depriving the funding councils of their responsibility for funding all other courses in education not connected with teacher training and also for funding educational research in general. It is difficult to grasp the distinction between these different activities. At present the HEFCE funding of education is divided as follows: £ 106 million per year roughly goes to initial teacher training; £ 50 million per year is spent on other academic studies in education; and £ 26 million per year roughly is spent on the funding of research, with a much smaller amount for capital equipment. As I understand it, under the Government's scheme, the whole of that sum will be channelled through the teacher training agency. Under our amendment, the £ 106 million for initial teacher training would come from the teacher training agency, as the Government want, but the Higher Education Funding Council for England would continue to provide £ 50 million for other academic studies in education, and most of the £ 26 million for research.

There is obviously an overlap between Amendment No.33, the noble Earl's amendment and the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Perry. We all want to take from the teacher training agency the provision of higher education. We all agree that that activity should not be funded by the teacher training agency. We want to give the agency the power to commission research which it wants done. I do not believe that the noble Earl, Lord Russell, wants to do that.

Perhaps I may say a few words about the £ 50 million going to "other activities" and about the research. I should like to draw attention to a letter sent from the Vice-Chancellor of the Open University to the Minister, a copy of which my noble friend Lady Carnegy showed to me. It relates to the "other academic activities". The Vice Chancellor says: More particularly, we are concerned that the Bill as drafted could have the effect: of transferring to the TTA responsibility for funding the courses we provide in, and the research we undertake into, the theory, practice and management of higher education. This includes, for example, courses on post-compulsory education and on open and distance learning at the HE level. In addition, it includes the research we undertake into the techniques of distance teaching and particularly into the quality and effectiveness of the OU's own teaching and the learning experience of OU students". Is it the intention of the Bill as drafted that all such research into teaching and training in higher education should be funded by the teacher training agency? If that is the case, our amendment seeks to remove that power.

As regards the other element of research, no more than the noble Earl, Lord Russell, do I want researchers into 15th century chantry schools applying to the teacher training agency for funding. But I want the teacher training agency to be able to say,"We need this research undertaken and we are willing to commission it from a university department", or the Government should be able to tell the teacher training agency that they wish research to be undertaken.

Perhaps I may emphasise that there would be no need to disturb any of the existing arrangements if all were well with educational research but its quality is extremely variable and much research which could make education policy more effective is not being carried out. When I said as much on Second Reading, there was a howl of execration from The Times Educational Supplement. I suppose one should take that seriously. But I received a number of unsolicited letters

in support. More authoritatively, a recent survey has been carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council, which concluded that there are: genuine structural problems involving a long 'tail' of mediocre research performance, notwithstanding some islands of excellence. In part this is due to the incorporation of the former monotechnic teacher training colleges into universities. Typically, staff in such departments have no background in research, nor, indeed, training. Yet they feel— and often are—under an obligation to conduct research and the result is not always very successful". That is a genuine problem. To the extent that the TTA will be able to channel funds towards research into effective teaching, it may deliver what policy-makers need and lift the whole level of education research in general without impinging on the academic freedom that we all want. I conclude by asking my noble friend the Minister whether she will be willing to take the amendment away for consideration and, perhaps, accept that it is a way of meeting the Government's purpose without infringing academic freedom.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

I shall speak briefly to Amendment No.34 which is tabled in my name. I have little to add to what my noble friend Lord Skidelsky and the noble Earl, Lord Russell, have already said. Most particularly, Amendment No.34 addresses the issues to which the noble Earl spoke with his usual convincing eloquence. I shall simply add to what he said as regards the difficulties that would be created by the teaching of education, wheresoever it occurred, being funded through a teacher training agency.

In this country there are several instances of universities which have departments of education which do not undertake teacher training; they are purely academic departments. They offer courses which very often form part of a two-subject undergraduate degree. To require such subject departments to obtain their funding for teaching from a teacher training agency when they undertake no training of teachers would be a very odd way to conduct business and would not make a useful contribution to the very high standards that we want them to have. I very much support Amendment No.34, but I am less sure that I feel strongly about research being transferred back to the higher education funding council. There is much to be said for the research which underpins good teacher training to remain with the TTA.

Lord Judd

I should just like to add a few words to what has already been said about the amendments. They produce a very acute dilemma. I believe that they illustrate the fundamentally unsatisfactory nature of the TTA as proposed. I shall take first the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Russell. As currently drafted, the Bill will separate educational research from other areas of research and will allow the TTA under the direction of the Secretary of State to prevent research into aspects of its own activities that are causing concern and enable it to set the agenda to serve its own limited ends.

The noble Earl's amendment would separate initial teacher education and training from research, which would be liable to encourage the more rapid moves to an apprenticeship model of training and would discourage higher education institutes from seeking to stay involved in initial teacher education. If we have to go down that appalling road, that illustrates the fact that it will be absolutely essential to lock into the agency some sort of very real presence of independent research interests which will be able to demonstrate, as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, put it earlier, not only that justice is being done but also that it is being seen to be done.

As regards the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, which enables the commissioning of research, I understand that as a result the TTA could ask any higher education institute to conduct research on its behalf. As most higher education schools of education have established research programmes, the amendment would leave many of those programmes in place. However, there is still a concern that the Secretary of State would be able to intervene directly through the TTA to dictate research criteria. Consequently, much independent research could disappear.

11.15 p.m.

Lord Skidelsky

I hope I may point out to the noble Lord that the Secretary of State can commission research now into anything he wants. This is an example of delegated power.

Lord Judd

If the noble Lord will forgive my saying so, I think this is again an indication of the point I tried to make much earlier in our deliberations today as regards giving a potential boost to something which many of us would find, perhaps even in the present situation, not altogether satisfactory.

I turn now to the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Perry. It seems to me that its effect would be to remove the provision of higher education from the list of activities which qualify for funding from the new body which oversees initial teacher education. We would not feel happy with the amendment because it would make it even more likely that some, if not all, teacher education and training would proceed without a higher education input. Examination of all three amendments only serves to underline that we are trying to make the unacceptable acceptable, and failing. What is basically flawed is the Bill and the whole concept of the TTA.

Baroness Blatch

I do not underestimate the importance of these matters. I strongly endorse the importance of a healthy body of high quality and independent research into educational topics and courses in the same topics. The powers which the Bill gives to the training agency are on all fours with those that the 1992 Act gave to the funding councils; and the power of the Secretary of State to influence allocations for both taught courses and research programmes is equally constrained.

To deal with courses into the theory, practice and management of education first, there is no intention of bringing these under any system of accreditation according to criteria, as quite properly happens for initial teacher training courses. There will be no alteration of academic freedom, nor are we trying to cut the funding for this area. There is one other

misunderstanding that I wish to correct, which is that by placing these under the remit of the agency we intend to push such matters as higher degrees in education into schools. I draw the Committee's attention to Clause 11 which specifically restricts the powers of schools to provide teacher training to courses for the initial training of school teachers.

Initial teacher training and higher degrees in education currently form part of Academic Subject Category 11 of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. This is a funding category for the whole of education, which includes not only the initial training of school teachers but also courses in, for example, further education teacher training, the education elements of undergraduate modular degrees and higher degrees in education.

In preparing for the Bill, and in our consultation paper last autumn leading up to it, we have worked on the basis that it is right to preserve the broad unity of the current funding category for education. This is not just an administrative question. It is also a question of how best to support education departments across the country, by allowing them to concentrate their dealings as far as possible with one funding body, the teacher training agency.

It is very often the same education departments and their staff that deal both with higher degrees in education, such as MEds, and with initial teacher training, including BEds. To divorce the funding of one type of provision from the other could be seen as artificial. I wonder whether it would also risk isolating initial teacher training from other education provision — something which I know this Chamber does not want to see. The same need for links applies also in the case of research and I note that Amendment No.34, in the name of my noble friend Lady Perry, would in practice leave the agency with the ability to fund research.

Let me therefore turn now to the question of research, which I know is of great concern to many Members of the Committee. We should expect the TTA to continue to operate a formula-driven, quality-based allocation for the generality of research funds now in Unit of Assessment 71, in much the same way as the funding councils now do. I do not think that means there is no case for transferring the funds. To build on the close links between education departments and the new agency, and reinforce the important relationship between teaching and research, there is certainly a case for the agency to fund education research. That is why we have so proposed.

I am more sympathetic with the arguments of practicality which suggest that common research standards, and flexibility in research allocations, may need special attention if the funding is being separately handled. It is important not to exaggerate such concerns. The research assessment exercise is currently carried out in a large number of discrete units, of which Unit of Assessment 71 is but one. The money which flows as a result is not ring fenced but each department will know what it has earned and, I expect, will want to hang on to it. Institutions can decide under which assessment unit they will submit any piece of interdisciplinary research. They would not lose that freedom under these proposals.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Skidelsky— speaking not only for himself but also for my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour— for his comments in speaking to the amendment. I very much agree that the teacher training agency must be able to commission research projects to help guide its actions— to help to identify the best types of training, for example. We have every intention that it should do so. I believe that it has the necessary powers under the Bill.

My noble friend Lord Skidelsky drew attention to the distinction between higher education research and the need to allow the power to commission research which could, for example, underpin and inform the development of policy. I know that the issue of protecting academic freedom, which I have addressed, nevertheless remains an anxiety to Members of the Committee.

As I noted in an earlier debate, I should very much like to take away the issues which we have dealt with in this grouping and think about them further in the light of the debate. The amendments as drafted are overlapping and somewhat confusing. We would all be well served by the opportunity to stand back to reflect and look at these two areas again and come back at Report stage with some way forward.

Earl Russell

I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for her promise to take this issue away and look at it. I too shall promise to consider very carefully what she said. We have not yet quite achieved a meeting of arguments. and she has made points which I want to consider. There ire points that I made, notably that about research in higher education, which she did not address.

There are real problems about the amputation of one subject from the rest of the academic context. I did not hear those addressed. I hear what the noble Baroness says about the difficulty of separating research on education from the training of teachers. But it seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, had a point when he said that there are real difficulties in each direction. That is the problem one runs into when one starts splitting up higher education into a number of different centres.

I agree with the noble Baroness that we all need to think about this subject further. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.33 to 35 not moved.]

Lord Judd moved Amendment No.36: Page 3, leave out lines 6 to 8.

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No.36, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos.37,38,39 and 47.

The intended effect of the amendments is to remove the duty which the Bill places on the teacher training agency and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to promote school-centred training alongside partnership training, which is now becoming the norm. In school-centred training one or more schools are responsible for the course and buy in any help thought to be needed from a higher education institution or elsewhere. In partnership training the institution is responsible for the course but schools contribute to it as partners under a contract between the institution and the governing body.

The amendments affect the teacher training agency's duty in Clause 1(2) (d) to secure the involvement of schools in all courses and programmes of initial teacher training. Schools should be so involved. But that involvement is already achieved by partnership training. Whether it can satisfactorily be achieved by school-centred courses is highly questionable, for several reasons.

First, a school's first job is to educate the pupils. Training teachers is a subsidiary task which can conflict with the first one in many ways. For example, will the best teachers spend their time training students rather than teaching pupils? How far should pupils be used as guinea-pigs? And how far should the school's management effort be diverted from its first to a subsidiary task?

Secondly, teachers are neither trained to train adults nor do they have the expertise, accumulated over many years by the higher education institutions, in how best to select students and how to tackle all aspects of their training— for example, achieving the right mix of theory and its application and helping students become reflective and self-critical professionals rather than merely imitators of the techniques used by experienced professionals.

Thirdly, school-centred training, particularly for primary teachers, is likely to depend on consortia working by schools, involving novel financial and administrative arrangements and heavy responsibilities for governors and staff. Frankly, consortia have a poor track record where substantial financial outlay and risk, and changes in normal working, are involved.

The amendments seek to ensure that schools are eligible for funding by the agency under Clause 4(2) (b) only if they are in a partnership scheme with an institution of further or higher education and not on their own. The clause as it stands, together with Clause 11, gives effect to the Secretary of State's aims, stated last spring, of putting schools in the driving seat over initial teacher education. As amended, the clause will ensure instead the continuation of successful partnerships between higher education institutions arid schools, making clear the distinction between school-based and school-centred training. In the almost universal opposition to the Bill from the profession, to which we have heard a good deal of reference this evening, nobody has denied that it is vital for trainee teachers to gain practical experience in the classroom. However, there are other aspects of learning to teach which cannot be taught in schools alone where, after all, the main aim is to teach school children. I suggest that wide and in-depth experience, links with research, tutors' support and the chance to study and think about the profession itself can be provided only in institutes of higher education in universities.

The involvement and support of both teachers and tutors is seen as positive by successive HMI and Ofsted reports— the genuine partnerships that are the key to the most effective teacher education. Indeed, the 1991 HMI report on school-based initial teacher training summarised its findings in terms which the amendment is designed to help achieve. It stated: 'The success of school-based training depends on the quality of the relationship between the training institution and the school, the significant involvement of teachers in the planning, supervision and assessment of the students' training and the active involvement of tutors in supporting the students' work in schools". This is a crucially important amendment to a very significant part of the Bill. The survey of the Standing Conference of Principals of higher education colleges, to which the noble Earl, Lord Russell, referred earlier was very significant. SCOP went to 1,202 primary school head teachers in England and Wales. What was the response? Only 12 wanted to take a major share of responsibility for the intellectual and pedagogical development of trainee teachers; 1,038 wanted only a minor responsibility in providing student welfare support; 900 wanted a minimal involvement in course design; 840 wanted a minimal involvement in monitoring the quality of course provision; more than 70 per cent. would like a shared or major responsibility in developing students' competence in curriculum content, planning and assessment; and less than 25 per cent. wanted a shared or major responsibility in improving students' subject knowledge.

This is the reality of what it is like out there. If you like, it is the sand base on which the Government are trying to build the whole new structure. In that context I could not help but be amused to read in the Times Educational Supplement on 11th February a report of what had happened at Harrow. Harrow is one of the most prestigious schools in the country. It has taken on students from the London University Institute of Education, but next September that arrangement will end because the school says that its senior staff cannot afford to spend time supervising five trainees.

The Times Educational Supplement report went on: The decision of a high profile, well-resourced school such as Harrow will sound a warning for others thinking of expanding teacher training". It is interesting to see that Nicholas Bomford, the headmaster of the school, said: We haven't really got the means of coping. We were concerned that the demands on teaching staff here were going to be very much greater". The report went on: "Mr Bomford said that the work required is being under-estimated. 'It's not just a case of taking a master off for x periods of time. They have full school duties already. Nor is it just a case of bringing in a supply teacher. There's more to working in any school than that'"

That is the head master of Harrow on the validity of the scheme which is being thrust upon the whole state sector. I find this a powerful commentary and I would be interested to hear the Minister's response.

11.30 p.m.

The Earl of Radnor

Despite being an Old Harrovian, I am not keen on either this amendment or the one that follows. It probably comes from lack of knowledge, but it seems to me that any institution within the higher or further education sector alone is not wide enough for subsection (2) on funding. I think

particularly of the institution with which I am involved, which teaches teachers. Where my lack of knowledge arises is that I am not sure whether we would be classed as an institute within the higher or further education sector. If we are not, I would want the catch-all (c) at the end.

Perhaps when my noble friend answers, she can put my mind at rest, because we teach many teachers who are already teachers in the special form of teaching. Then they can go on dealing with the children I have mentioned. I would hate, through taking out the lines under either of the amendments, to feel that we were deprived of the chance of ever getting any funding. We always live in hopes, we have never had a penny from anyone yet and we feel that one day we might be considered valuable enough to get a little something from the Government.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux)

I should have said that, if Amendment No.36 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No.37.

Baroness Blatch

I have heard Members of the Committee question the ability of any group of schools to run a postgraduate training course unless they are in partnership with an institution of higher education. I think that is a serious underestimation of the abilities and commitment of some of our best schools and their teachers.

The proper test of whether or not a course should lead to qualified teacher status, and be funded to do so, is whether the course meets the Secretary of State's criteria and produces fully competent teachers. The Government are fully prepared for school-centred courses to be tested against the same standards as any other courses. They will be inspected and reported on by the inspectorate. They will be funded by the agency to the extent that the quality and efficiency of the training they offer, in the words of Clause 1, justifies that expenditure from the agency's budget.

The current pioneering school-centred initial teacher training courses have had to pass the same course approval process as higher education courses. Indeed, they have been, as newcomers to teacher training, given closer scrutiny than many existing providers. I can say that Her Majesty's Inspectorate is monitoring the scheme and will be publishing a report in due course.

It is the case that most of the school-centred initial teacher training pioneers are acting in partnership with higher education institutions in some way. Some higher education institutions are very supportive, although there are worrying suggestions that some institutions will have nothing to do with school-centred courses, purely on philosophical grounds, and withdraw their own trainees from schools which are involved.

But the place which some schools choose to offer higher education does not justify putting into law an arbitrary restriction requiring all schools to do so. The reason cannot be quality. That, as I have said, is the subject of a separate test. I fear it is simply the desire to limit the freedom of schools and preserve a role in every course for higher education which the noble Lord must fear it would not be able to secure on its merits.

The amendment would enable higher education institutions acting in concert to prevent any school-centred courses from operating if they refused to form partnerships on anything but their own terms; and with their own control of funding they could stop the school-centred initial teacher training scheme in its tracks.

I turn now to the amendment tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I notice that the noble Earl has not spoken in this debate, but would he wish me to address the amendment that is grouped here?

Earl Russell

I would wish to hear a very brief answer. I would not wish to detain the Committee too long.

Baroness Blatch

I am most grateful. But it would be presumptuous of me to assume what the noble Earl might have said had he spoken to the amendment.

There is a variety of diverse bodies and institutions which may now, or in the future, play a role on teacher education and training. We do not intend to attempt to anticipate all such possibilities on the face of the Bill. However, we do believe that where a body or institution not covered by categories that we have specified wishes to be designated as eligible for funding, it is right that there should be the opportunity for that, subject of course to parliamentary scrutiny through the negative resolution procedure. That is secured by the clause as we have drafted it.

The present amendments might, however, prevent bodies which may be well suited to the role of acting as, for example, the co-ordinating body for a teacher training course, from being recognised as an eligible recipient of funding by the funding agencies. That would place an unnecessary and undesirable restriction on the funding 2. ctivities of the agencies. I therefore hope that the noble Earl will withdraw his amendment. Indeed, I think there would be some impact on an amendment by the diocesan boards to become involved as teacher training providers.

I turn finally to Amendment No.47, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the noble Baroness, who is not in her place— I believe it is the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone. This amendment does two quite different things, the second of which is also the subject of an amendment from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford, as I just said. I shall take them in turn.

First, the amendment removes from the Bill a requirement that I he agency shall establish and maintain an appropriate balance between school-centred and other courses. This follows of course from the opposition that we have already had to the school initial teacher training scheme in its entirety. But we shall have school-centred courses, and we shall certainly want them to grow to the extent that good schools wish to be involved and to the extent that the quality and efficiency of their training justifies.

I must re-emphasise this point. If schools do not want to be involved in school-based teacher training, they do not have to be. So far as the wholly school-based postgraduate training is concerned, I have made the point very clearly that that will not be imposed. In fact, there are no powers to impose such training. So, if the noble Lord is correct in the rather gloomy figures that he gave to the Committee this evening, those schools will simply not volunteer to become involved. 'There may, however, be some confusion in the minds of some noble Lords about the primary and secondary circulars, which require minimum weeks in any particular course to be spent in schools and to work in partnership with higher education institutions; and where some higher education institutions are simply not parting with enough of the money that they receive for the unit of teacher training to the schools to cover their costs in becoming involved.

I must stress that the balance will not be determined by any hidden factors which are not clearly set out on the face of the Bill. The agency has a public and statutory agenda which it must address in this, as in all other aspects of its work.

The second quite distinct effect of Amendment No.47 would be to remove the agency's duty to avoid discouraging the institutions that it funds from developing other sources of income. The wording at issue replicates that used in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 in relation to the further and higher education funding councils. There is nothing remotely sinister in this wording. The purpose of this subsection is not to pressurise institutions into maxirnising their non-teacher training funding. On the contrary, it is to afford institutions a protection, so that funding is not automatically reduced pound for pound every time they identify a charitable or other private source of funding. I do not believe that there should be any discouragement of the flow of resources into education from commercial, private or charitable sources. I am sure that Members of the Committee— particularly those with long experience of higher education— would endorse that view.

My noble friend Lord Radnor was concerned about direct funding by the teacher training agency. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has a power under the Bill to designate new providers of training who could apply to the agency for funds. That could include those currently in the provision of education elsewhere in the education sector. I made that point in referring to the diocesan boards.

As regards the timetable for primary partnerships to which I referred earlier, as a result of the primary and secondary circulars, where schools were working in partnership with the higher education institutions, the primary schools have until 1996. The nature of partnerships is likely to be very different too. Until institutions have worked out new models in discussions with schools, it is far too early to ask the schools whether they are willing to participate in them. This is very new. There is a good deal of anxiety and I feel that it will take some time for proper partnerships to be developed between higher education and the schools.

Where they are working, and working well, we shall learn much from them and do what we can to disseminate good practice. I am sure that the models will be worked out with school needs very much in mind. I understand the anxieties but I hope that these amendments will not be pressed.

Lord Judd

I should have been happier if the Minister in her reply had been able to give some assurance that in this area we would not see the same kind of story that we have seen in the whole area of opting out in secondary education, with a bonanza of financial inducements to schools to move out of local education authority control, with all the assurances that they were being given free choice at the same time. I hope that we shall not go through that rather sordid kind of exercise in this context. That is one point.

The other point by which I still remain bemused, and which I raised right at the beginning of our proceedings this afternoon, is that it is rather strange to find a whole new strategy being put into place at the very time that an experiment is still under way and has not yet been evaluated. That seems to me to be very odd and impetuous. But we have got rather used to impetuosity from our political masters at DfE-not from the Minister sitting opposite perhaps but from some of those with whom she has to deal.

I am not reassured by what the Minister said. But again, I am a realist about the hour and the state of the Committee. I think that we shall have to pursue this matter on another occasion. In that context, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.37 to 39 not moved.]

The Lord Bishop of Guildford moved Amendment No.40: Page 3, line 11, after ("activities") insert ("or any body co-ordinating qualifying activities carried out by one or more such institutions").

The right reverend Prelate said: The intention of this amendment— and Amendment No.51 goes with it— is to make provision for a diocese, for instance, to be a provider of school-centred courses.

It is true to say that at the moment both the colleges of education and the Churches as a whole would wish to wait before deciding whether they wish to move in that direction. But when the current experiments have been evaluated, it may be that the church schools would wish to take their part in school-centred training of teachers. To make that possible, we need this provision, or something very similar, which will enable dioceses to be the appropriate body. Church schools are normally overseen by the diocese and it would be the diocese that would put forward a programme. I do not think that under the Bill as drafted there is provision for a diocese to take any initiative.

With that in mind I move the amendment, in the hope that the Government will accept it or something similar to it. I beg to move.

11.45 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for explaining his intentions in tabling these amendments. But what he is seeking to achieve can be secured under the Bill as drafted.

A co-ordinating body— whether a diocesan board or, as in a real current example, the City Technology Colleges Trust— will be able to receive funds direct from the teacher training agency if it is acting as the agent of a group of eligible institutions. The funding must be spent on the provision of training under the control of the eligible bodies; for example, the group of schools concerned in a school-centred course. That secures the necessary accountability for the use of the funds. Such schools may well want to pay for a third party— for example, the co-ordinating body or a higher education institution— to take part in the provision of that training. That is quite acceptable under the Bill as it stands. But the decision is one for the eligible institutions and not the co-ordinating body.

It may be that the right reverend Prelate feels that diocesan boards should be able to participate in a training consortium in their own right— not in fact as "co-ordinating bodies" but as providers of training. That case is also catered for under the Bill, through the designation power in Clause 4(2) (c). We have ensured that any decision to designate providers which are not schools or higher education institutions, or bodies established by them to act on their behalf, should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny through the negative resolution procedure. That is a sensible safeguard and that scrutiny would be denied by the first of the right reverend Prelate's amendments.

Turning to the second of the right reverend Prelate's amendments— Amendment No.51— I can understand that he might want, for example, school provision that was co-ordinated by a diocesan body to be counted as school-centred for the purposes of Clause 6. Where the schools took full responsibility for designing and providing the course that would be entirely right and would be allowed under Clause 6 as drafted. But if the schools were not in control it would not be right for the course to be seen as school-centred.

It is because of that difficulty, which I perceive we would be left with by the amendment, that I hope the amendment will not be pressed. I believe that most of what the right reverend Prelate is seeking can be achieved under the Bill.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

I am grateful to the Minister for that response. I shall wish to study in more detail what she said and see whether it convinces me or, more accurately, convinces my advisers. In the hope that that is the case, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No.41: Page 3, line II, at end insert ("except that in the case of training specialist teachers of pupils with special educational needs, eligibility is limited to institutions of higher education offering courses in collaboration with relevant schools and services").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No.41 I shall speak also to Amendment No.48, which is grouped with it. Perhaps I may first apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, for not being here for the beginning of his Amendment No.29. I am afraid business in the Chamber moved rather more swiftly than could my wheels along the corridor.

Lord Graham of Edmonton


Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

This time yes, I am afraid.

I do not think I am overlapping the noble Earl's amendment, which was not aimed at ensuring the continuance of the collaborative arrangements with IHEs but rather focused the sights of the TTA on teaching of specific learning difficulties. I certainly echo remarks of the noble Earl that I did hear; that is, that we need something in regard to special educational needs written into the Bill.

I turn now to Amendment No.41, which would ensure that specialist courses now available— for example, for teachers of children with sensory impairments— continue to be provided by institutions of higher education, in collaboration with relevant schools and services". Amendment No.48 would ensure that the special educational needs aspects of the initial teacher training course continue to have an input from institutions of higher education. That collaboration has been developed over many years and has recently been encouraged by the Government. It ensures that initial teacher training benefits not only from innovative practices developed in individual schools, but also from contact with up-to-date developments across the whole field of special educational needs both in this country and abroad.

The code of practice, as we know, incorporated in the 1993 Education Act places explicit demands on ordinary schools to offer certain levels of support to pupils with special educational needs, and failure to meet those demands would lay them open to appeals to tribunals by parents of pupils with special educational needs. There could also be a proliferation of appeals from parents of pupils with the more severe forms of special educational need if the required standard of specialist teaching is not offered. That is what Amendment No.41 seeks to avoid.

I accept that from discussions with Ministers there appears to be no intention to transfer training of specialist teachers to schools alone. But while the Bill does not explicitly promote that, neither does it exclude it, which would jeopardise the high level of skills, knowledge and understanding demanded of specialist teachers and currently obtained on courses offered through collaboration between schools and IHEs. It is vital that their training is not cut off from access to developments it special needs at national and international level.

I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about these amendments. I understand that we must also reflect on the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. I hope that the amendments will not cut across his concerns.

The Minister is deeply committed to improving the quality of special needs teaching. We all want the code of practice to work. I really do believe that if the amendments were written into the Bill we would be going a step further towards ensuring the code's success. I beg to move.

Lord Swinfen

I wish briefly to support both amendments to which my name is added and as a rider to say that the warning raised by my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch on Amendment No.35 needs to be heeded. We probably need to look at that before the next stage of the Bill. I hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench will view the amendments sympathetically and possibly come back with some of her own to achieve the same purpose.

Lord Addington

I add my support to the amendments. They are really about carrying on best practice as it currently goes on. I hope that the Minister can be sympathetic towards them.

Baroness Blatch

The starting point in considering amendments must be the provisions already in the Bill. As drafted, it already empowers the agency to fund any teacher training. Therefore, by definition, it would have power to fund training for teachers of children with specific learning difficulties. Moreover, it would already be open to the agency under the Bill to restrict particular aspects of its funding to in-service provision.

Amendment No.41, which the noble Lords, Lord Swinfen and Lord Rix, and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), have tabled on this subject, will have force if we do decide, following the survey of LEAs to which I referred earlier, to ask the teacher training agency to fund some specialist in-service courses. But I fear that it would unduly restrict the range of providers of special needs courses which the agencies could fund. I am sure that all signatories to the amendment would not wish to see that.

The amendment would limit eligible providers to higher education institutions offering courses with collaboration from schools and services with relevant expertise in this area, such as special schools, social services and district health authorities. It may well he true that most special schools are not in a position to offer their own special needs teacher training, but a few of the larger special schools may feel they have the resources and the wealth of staff expertise to do so. One has only to think of the very special needs of the blind, the deaf, autistic children, and so on. I hope therefore that the amendment will be withdrawn.

I understand the concerns reflected in Amendment No.48. I do, however, have a concern that it would unduly limit the power of schools to provide initial teacher training. I do not doubt that in many cases schools offering their own courses will arrange for some aspects to be provided jointly with higher education institutions. That may well include those aspects which deal with the identification and teaching of pupils with special educational needs. But I believe that the schools concerned should have the choice as to which aspects of the course— if any— should be shared with higher education institutions.

A group of schools with some excellent special needs departments or units— or a group of schools including a special school— may well be able to deal effectively with that aspect. And they will certainly have to deal effectively with this, as with all other aspects of the criteria, if they are to be accredited and allowed to offer a course of initial teacher training. I remind the Committee that the full standards which apply to courses of training in higher education also apply to those run by schools; and special schools would be no exception.

With that assurance, and on reflection of what I have said in the course of the debate, I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I thank noble Lords for supporting me. Quite a large proportion of the Chamber spoke in support. I also thank the Minister for her careful reply. I shall read it with equal care before reflecting on what to do.

I wish to make two general points. With regard to Amendment No.48, disability organisations have told me that surveys show that the majority of schools are doubtful whether they would be in a position to add training to their prime responsibility to offer a high quality of education to their pupils. The Government always say that they believe in carefully targeted legislation to improve the position of people with disabilities. It is very important that we preserve the best and continue to improve special needs education. I firmly believe that we need perhaps not these amendments but something very like them written into the Bill to ensure that this provision finds its mark. I do not know whether the Minister will agree to pursue this matter outside the Chamber if, on reflection, I feel that we need to go further. Is her door open? Do I see the noble Baroness nodding or perhaps she is rising?

Baroness Blatch

Perhaps I should put it on record that I shall of course continue to discuss all these matters between now and Report stage. But I made it clear that it is not the legislation which is inhibiting good, special needs teacher training or further courses in special needs training. We shall discuss it between now and Report stage.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I am very grateful to the Minister. I have no hesitation in withdrawing my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No.42: Page 3, line 18, at end insert: ("() No course in teacher training or teacher education at any eligible institution shall qualify for funding under this Part unless that institution publishes and makes available to each student undertaking such course:

  1. (a) the profile of the academic content of the course, set out so that each student shall have reasonable expectations as to what he will be required to study in each fortnight of the course in question;
  2. (b) where appropriate, the amount of time which will be spent teaching students to teach children how to read and write English, and by what methods;
  3. (c) the reading list which is proposed for the course in question;
  4. (d) the names of any external examiners appointed to report on the course to the institution at which the course is proposed;
  5. (e) the publications, if any, of those who are to teach the course;
  6. (f) the teaching workload of those teaching the course, giving the number of hours per week and the number of weeks per annum that teachers on the course are contracted to teach their students either in lectures or in tutorials or other small groups;
  7. (g) the workload of those teaching the course in any other activities related to the course, such as the marking of students' papers; and
  8. 1664
  9. (h) the amount of time which the course teachers have spent teaching in schools, together with the names of the schools in question.")—

The noble Lord said: Some Members of the Committee may detect a certain similarity between this amendment and those to which I spoke during the passage of the Further and Higher Education Bill through your Lordships' House a little more than two years ago. I thought then, and still think, that its provisions would be helpful for all higher education courses.

The amendment is not intended to be in any way prescriptive. It can be accused of no draconian interference from the Secretary of State and I must say I would have thought that it was in the best, if somewhat new, traditions of the Citizen's Charter.

Very briefly, the amendment intends to let a little daylight into what is going on in our teacher training courses. It will allow potential students to know what they should be doing on their course, and it will allow them and others to comment as to whether these aims have been met and are desirable or otherwise.

At this late stage I shall be very brief as the amendment is largely self-explanatory. It requires the institutions, as a condition of their funding, to publish certain information about their courses and those who are to teach them. Paragraph (a) of the amendment requires the publication of the course's academic profile to be set out fortnight by fortnight. Some Members of the Committee may argue that fortnightly is too tight, but a number of people with whom I have discussed it feel that monthly would be too loose, so I am suggesting that the profile should be set out fortnightly.

I trust that paragraph (b) does not seem too prescriptive in what it seeks to disclose, but I feel sure that the failure to teach students how to teach children to read and write properly has been one of the greatest failures of our teacher training system in recent years.

Several students have complained to me that as little as 5 per cent. of their course can be spent on this subject. Worse, as I mentioned at Second Reading, there is a widespread aversion to the phonics method of teaching children how to read, which is an old and trusted method and appears to work rather better than the "real books" and other trendy methods, which may be largely responsible for so much illiteracy in our society today.

I contend that once you have learnt to read and write you can in fact teach yourself most of the rest of any curriculum or subject and much else. I must say that you can do this, and many people are doing it and have done it, without what seems to me to be the often doubtful benefit of higher education. But if you cannot read and write you are condemned to low status for a lifetime.

Paragraph (c) requires the publication of reading lists. That is one of the areas where consistent bias still shows up in many teacher education courses, if it exists. If reading lists were more prominently displayed I feel sure that the courses would quickly become more balanced. Students would be able to absorb and quote from a wider range of literature than is at present encouraged by our teacher educators— to the benefit, I am sure, of all concerned.

Likewise, paragraph (d) would give at least the initiated the knowledge as to whether external examiners of a particular bent might be scratching each other's backs to the detriment of the breadth of the courses in question.

I believe that paragraph (e) is also important. It requires the list of publications by those who are to teach a course to be made available to those who are to follow it, and to others. That should be information of which the teachers concerned should be proud, and in any case it is usually available from their CVs. I cannot help feeling that it would be helpful for students to know where their teachers stand on the various issues which will be covered by their courses. Naturally, one expects good academics to teach their subjects in an even-handed way and if they are doing that, they have nothing to fear from the paragraph. If, however, they are pushing their own particular viewpoint, the amendment should help to put their students on their toes, to take issue with the tutors concerned.

Paragraphs (f) and (g) are designed to provide more general inforrnation as to the workload of the teachers who are to teach those courses. I feel sure that that will be helpful to students so that they know what availability they may expect from their tutors and what is to be expected of them in lectures, tutorials and so on. I might add that some students have suggested to me that it would also be helpful to know how many essays they are expected to write and of what sort of length.

Finally, paragraph (h) addresses a serious problem in the world of teacher education— that those who teach the teachers may not always themselves be very good at teaching. In fact, I understand that they are often rather bad at it and, if that were so, I should have thought that that would cast doubt on their ability to teach potential teachers. If I were considering signing up for a teacher training course, I think I should like to know if the people who were going to teach me to teach could themselves actually teach. This paragraph would help students to find out and would put pressure on teacher educators in future to be able to practise what they preach.

I am sorry to have taken so long at this time of the evening to move the amendment, which is, of course, a probing amendment, but I hope that I have covered the amendment's provisions with sufficient clarity and brevity. I beg to move.


Baroness Cox

I should like to speak briefly in support of the amendment which stands in my name also and to emphasise that its purpose, as is self-evident, is to ensure that information on the content of courses in education should be in the public domain. The public have a legitimate interest in the content of such courses. People who have a particular right to know include, as my noble friend has said, students embarking on such courses; the general public, whose money finances them; employers and schools, which are influenced by the products of the courses in the sense of the quality of the teacher training that is provided. It is a fact that at the moment that information is often difficult to obtain.

I agree with my noble friend that this is a probing amendment. Perhaps some parts of it are more fundamental than others. Paragraphs (a) to (e) and (h) are very important. I should like to highlight paragraph (b) on reading. Students should expect to be taught how to teach children to read in view of recent research which found that 84 per cent. of primary teachers had spent five hours or less learning to teach reading while they were at college. That is immensely serious. Only 9 per cent. of primary teachers had covered in detail the phonics method of reading on their course. That is a matter of such fundamental concern that I think it is the kind of information that should be generally available. Although this is a probing amendment, it raises fundamental issues of accountability, openness and transparency. I hope that in that spirit, my noble friend the Minister will feel sympathetic towards it.

Lord Swinfen

When he responds, I wonder whether my noble friend Lord Pearson will say why he has chosen the period of a fortnight in paragraph (a). In some subjects, the time might need to be a week while in others it should be a month, so 1 think that my noble friend has drawn the provision too tightly.

I have great sympathy with paragraphs (f) and (g) because I understand from my daughter, who spent some time at a polytechnic, that certain lecturers often did not turn up, with the excuse that they were too busy doing something else. Although they should have attended and taught certain lectures in the course, they did not arrive for them.

Baroness Blatch

My noble friend Lord Pearson, supported by my noble friend Lady Cox, has spoken persuasively about the right to certain core items of information for students on initial teacher training courses. I believe that the items listed in the amendment should be among those which institutions publish and make available. After all, it is not unusual for students to wish to know what their programmes are a week or a fortnight ahead. I do not see that as at all unreasonable.

My noble friend has caught the spirit of our charters with this amendment. He has promoted openness, which is good for government and good for teacher training institutions. With more time, I might even be able to add a few items to the list myself, but I do not think that we shall be able to give this issue the detailed attention that it deserves during the passage of the Bill or be sure enough of getting the details right to put them on the face of the legislation.

I should like to reflect and discuss with my noble friends how we might return to this issue at the next stage and pursue the objectives in a way that gives more flexibility and detail. I hope that in the light of that assurance my noble friend will be able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

In thanking my noble friend for that reply, it is in order for me to answer my noble friend Lord Swinfen as to why a fortnight. I agree that that is something of a controversial timescale. The reason that I chose a fortnight was that many academics with whom I discussed the matter believed that, if the period were once a week, that would be too prescriptive and would control too closely the method by which they wished to deliver their knowledge. Once a month might have been too lax. Most people with whom I discussed the matter believed that for teacher training courses once a fortnight would be reasonable.

By way of further thanks to my noble friend the Minister, I believe that some of these items should be on the face of the Bill. I hope that, unless she can assure me that sufficient force will be put on the institutions concerned to achieve the same ends without their being on the face of the Bill, we can discuss the matter in the meantime. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Grants, loans and other payments]:

[Amendments Nos.43 to 45 not moved.]

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No.46: Page 3. line 46, at end insert ("and (c) in relation to any particular institution, to any assessment of the quality of education provided by the institution to students having learning difficulties.").

The noble Baroness said: I assure the Committee that with Amendment No.46 we shift extremely briefly from pupils with special educational needs to would-be teachers with disabilities. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the teacher training agency will enable students with disabilities to gain access to the curriculum, inform and encourage them and see that it does not set up new obstacles to training.

First, if disabled students are to have equality of opportunity, it is vital that any funding system should take account of the extra costs of training them. Disability organisations believe that there are strong grounds for ring-fencing funds to improve that access to course and college buildings. At present, disabled applicants have limited choice because either the buildings are not accessible or they find that the course itself is inaccessible.

Secondly, at present little public information is aimed at would-be disabled teachers, although TASC, the Teaching as a Career Unit, has recently agreed to work with the Disabled Teachers' Campaign group on information for disabled students. The new teacher training agency offers a very good opportunity to ensure that this work is continued and developed.

Thirdly, there was anxiety among the disabled organisations about proposals in the White Paper that a new funding system would reward colleges more generously for BEd students who completed their course in three years instead of the usual four. It is well known that some disabled students may need extra time to study. These plans could act as a disincentive or oblige those with more severe disabilities to consider a part-time BEd which received no mandatory funding from LEAs. The organisations believe that it is most important that three and four-year courses should be treated as equally valid alternatives and should have parity of funding.

I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about this issue. Ever the optimist, I hope that tonight on this third attempt I shall be lucky and she will respond encouragingly. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

I hope that in the course of this part of the Bill I have been encouraging and understanding of the noble Baroness. I am grateful to her for the way in which she introduced her amendment. I understand the motivation for it. I accept fully that the quality of education for students with learning difficulties is of great importance and that such students should not receive an inferior training because of those difficulties. I hope that the noble Baroness will agree that the quality of education for those students is an integral part of the overall quality of provision at an institution.

The Bill as drafted will require the funding agencies to take account of general assessments of the quality of education in allocating their funds. But I believe that it would be invidious to single out a particular component of overall quality for special scrutiny, however worthy it may be.

I naturally support the ideal that there should be adequate access to courses and buildings for students with disabilities and a recognition that such students may take longer to complete a course. The Government's policy is that all students with the necessary intellectual competence, motivation and maturity to benefit from higher education should be able to do so.

We have sought to ensure that practical help is available. The Further and Higher Education Act 1992 gives the HE funding council wide powers to fund relevant activities, including, for example, building adaptations to improve physical access to provision. The mandatory awards regulations also provide for generous support in the form of three separate allowances and LEAs have discretion to make grant payments if students need to repeat or extend study for reasons associated with their disabilities.

I hope that in the light of that answer, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. I shall read extremely carefully what she said. I am somewhat reassured. I shall go away and consider the matter but, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Provisions supplementary to s.5]:

[Amendments Nos.47 and 48 not moved.]

The Lord Bishop of Guildford moved Amendment No.49: Page 4, line 6, leave out from second ("courses; ") to end of line 9.

The right reverend Prelate said: This amendment has the effect of deleting Clause 6(1) (b). I recognise that the clause appears as a section of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 but it still troubles me. On the face of it, the clause is reasonable in not discouraging funding from other sources. But "not discouraging" is a double negative and it could easily become "encouraging". Therefore, it could be used to push institutions into finding money from other sources, whether voluntary, commercial or foreign, and so become a reason for starving selected institutions of a proper level of state funding.

It may be that I am particularly sensitive about the issue because some of the institutions concerned in the Bill are independent Church bodies. It is the wrong moment at which to apply strict logic. At this time of the morning, it is difficult to come by. But if the clause means only "not discouraging", it is not necessary. If it means "encouraging", then it could be rather disturbing. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

I hope that I can allay the fears of the right reverend Prelate. The effect of the amendment would be to remove the agency's duty to avoid discouraging-4 take the point about the difficulty of understanding the double negative— the institutions they fund from developing other sources of income. I touched on that point in opposing an earlier amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the noble Baroness, Lady David, which would have had the same effect.

1 made clear that the wording at issue replicates that used in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 in relation to the further and higher education funding councils. There is no question of any hidden agenda behind the wording. The right reverend Prelate may be concerned that the subsection would put pressure on institutions to obtain as much of their funding as they could from non-TTA sources. But its purpose is in fact the opposite; it is to prevent institutions from being automatically penalised whenever they attract funds from a charitable or other private source by means of an equivalent reduction in their TTA grant. I do not believe that the flow of resources into education from commercial, private or charitable sources should be discouraged in any way. I am sure that Members of the Committee— particularly those with long experience of higher education—would agree with that view.

In the light of that assurance, I hope that the right reverend Prelate will not press the amendment.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

I am grateful to the Minister for that assurance. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford moved Amendment No.50: Page 4, line 11, after ("provided") insert ("for post-graduate students").

The right reverend Prelate said: I move this amendment because it is grouped with Amendment No.63 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Perry. My version of the amendment has the benefit of brevity, which would please the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, if he were here. The amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, is much more thorough-going and fool-proof or— should I say?— non-graduate proof. I fully accept that the noble Baroness has done her homework better than I have. I was delighted to hear the Minister say earlier that she would accept Amendment No.63. Therefore, I am only moving my amendment in order to get Amendment No.63 on board, so to speak. I shall seek leave to withdraw it in due course. I beg to move.

12.15 a.m.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

I shall speak but briefly to Amendment No.63 because it relates to Clause 11 with which we shall not deal tonight. The definition in that clause of school-based, school-centred, courses is extended by the amendment to make it clear that such courses should be open only to people who already hold a degree, or an equivalent qualification, either from a UK institution or from abroad. I, too, was delighted to hear the Minister say earlier that she was minded to accept the amendment.

Lord Judd

I should like to congratulate both the noble Baroness and the right reverend Prelate. If they had the intention of testing the opinion of the Committee tonight, they could be sure of my support. Shortly put, they are doing a great deal to make a stand as regards the things about which I was enthusing not very many minutes ago.

Baroness Blatch

As Members of the Committee know from what I said on Second Reading and during an earlier debate today, I have absolutely no difficulty with the aims of this group of amendments. It reflects the Government's intentions. If it reassures Members of the Committee to have those intentions spelt out clearly on the face of the Bill, I am more than happy to accept that judgment.

However, I fear that the amendment tabled in the name of the right reverend Prelate does not secure his intentions as it amends only a definition rather than a power or a duty. But that which my noble friend Lady Perry has helpfully tabled seems to me to meet the case exactly. I shall, of course, deal with the minor consequential amendment to which my noble friend referred. I fully support such an addition to the Bill.

Earl Russell

Before the noble Baroness says anything further, perhaps I may join in the thanks that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, offered to those who tabled the amendments. I also thank the noble Baroness for her reply.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

I am grateful for the Minister's response. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.51 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Grants to the funding agencies]:

Lord Judd moved Amendment No.52: Page 5, line 2, at end insert ("after consultation with appropriate bodies").

The noble Lord said: In moving the above amendment I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendments Nos.53 and 55. The Secretary of State having the power to impose requirements is, in our view, unacceptable. Recent events in education and elsewhere have shown that that sort of blanket increase in powers to the Secretary of State is not wise; neither is it a basis for successful policy development and implementation. In our view, the Secretary of State should be required to consult very widely and be clearly accountable to Parliament.

The amendments are, therefore, designed to ensure the accountability of the Secretary of State and to provide some protection against him proceeding without due consultation, or ignoring representations made to him. I am quite sure we all agree that in a democracy such protection is in the interests of both the public and, indeed, of the Minister concerned. Because I think that that relates to the amendments that we will approach in a moment (upon which the scrutiny committee made its own recommendations) I commend the amendments to the Minister. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

The amendments would have the effect of requiring consultation with "appropriate bodies", and votes in two Houses of Parliament about, the detailed minutiae of the financial memorandum which the department must establish for every non-departmental public body to allow the department's accounting officer to satisfy himself that his funds are being spent on the purpose for which they have been voted by Parliament. This is not the business of anyone but the two bodies concerned, acting within the statutory framework which the Bill lays down and which gives the agency considerable independence in pursuit of its defined objectives.

We have already written into Clause 7 a number of limitations on what such a memorandum might contain — so as to make it quite clear that it cannot be used under any circumstances to trench on academic freedom, the content of courses, or the individual institutions to be funded. I fail to understand what else it might contain of sufficient concern to justify the ponderous procedures proposed under the amendment and I hope the amendment will not be pressed.

Lord Judd

As the Minister will not be moved, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.53 not moved.]

Earl Russell moved Amendment No.54: Page 5, line 11, at end insert: ("() shall not relate to the academic content of courses provided in these institutions, and").

The noble Earl said: Having heard and been encouraged by what the noble Baroness said about this amendment, I suppose I should say yesterday afternoon, I will say only that I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

Clause 7(3) precisely replicates certain safeguards for academic freedom in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, relating to the Secretary of State's grants to the Higher Education Funding Councils. We have provided exactly the same restrictions on the terms and conditions that the Secretary of State may apply to his grants to the TTA. They provide the effective safeguards for academic freedom to which the Committee has rightly attached great importance. I am therefore a little surprised that the noble Earl felt that there was any need for more such restrictions to be written into this clause. The amendment prevents the Secretary of State from applying terms and conditions which relate to the academic content of courses.

But Clause 7(3) (a) of the Bill already contains a prohibition relating to particular courses of study and programmes of research, including to the content of such courses or programmes. We have therefore already provided the necessary guarantees. I should not like it to be assumed, by the addition of these words to this Bill, that there is something lacking in the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act in this respect. I can see no reason why the provisions of this clause relating to the TTA should not be the same as the 1992 provisions for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and I hope the amendment will not be pressed.

Earl Russell

I thank the noble Baroness for that reply, which I found reassuring. I had of course looked at Clause 7 (3) (a) before I tabled this amendment. I take the point about particular institutions. I had in mind things such as a general requirement about how reading shall be taught but, having heard what the noble Baroness said this afternoon and having seen her shake her head so emphatically, I am now happy to withdraw the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.55 not moved.]

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Directions by the Secretary of State]:

[Amendment No.56 not moved.]

Lord Judd moved Amendment No.57: Page 5, line 39, at end insert ("and no such order shall be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, both Houses of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment is really to respond to the report of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee, in which it used the words, We accordingly urge the House to consider whether directions under Clause 8 should not be subject to the affirmative procedure". We have considered that and we think they should be and are therefore proposing an amendment accordingly. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

The Secretary of State has taken no powers in this Bill that were not in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 in respect of the existing funding councils. The existing powers have not been used. But they are there to provide an assurance that action can be taken swiftly if the unexpected should arise.

The Secretary of State has two direction making powers under Clause 8. First, he can make general directions to the funding agencies about the exercise of their functions. It is most unlikely that we should ever need to use this in practice, since we expect the agencies to use their funds effectively and prudently. But, since the Secretary of State is ultimately accountable to Parliament for the use of the agencies' funds, it would be improper for him to have no such power when in practice he could one day face a real need for action. And if that need did arise— following attempts to persuade the agency by non-statutory means— it would almost certainly require speed, which the affirmative resolution procedure does not allow.

Secondly, the Secretary of State may also make specific directions to the agencies about their support for individual institutions, where he has evidence of financial mismanagement at those institutions. He may for example need: o direct that the institution's funding should be stopped in whole or in part until the matter can be investigated. Again, this is a power which a prudent Parliament should expect him to have. In the unlikely event of this procedure being needed, speed would be of the essence.

I hope that For those convincing reasons the amendments will not be pressed.

Earl Russell

The noble Baroness used the argument of the 1992 Act, but we should remember that the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee was not in existence when we passed the 1992 Act. Thanks to that committee, this Chamber has acquired slightly greater expertise in considering these matters. Without prejudging the generality of the argument, I hope that in future we shall not use it as an argument against a report from that committee and say that something has been done in the past. That committee is refining the practice of this Chamber and we should allow it to continue to do so.

Lord Judd

I find the Minister's reply rather disappointing. It seems to me as still a relatively new boy in this Chamber that one of the functions of this Chamber is to be a guardian of the quality and spirit of democracy, about which we can be a little objective. In that sense I would have thought that there should be a presumption that if a distinguished committee of this kind makes such a firm recommendation to us we take it seriously.

I am afraid that I detected from the Minister's reply a presumption, which is all too characteristic of this Government, that except under extreme duress from both Houses it should not be necessary for the Government to explain, give account and obtain the full commitment and democratic support of this Chamber and the other place.

That is also sad, because if we had a confident Administration wanting to move forward in that context of consensus about which I spoke earlier but with the feeling that the people who matter are with them, they would want to do The Government would want to seek the endorsement of Parliament. I am sad that we seem to be moving still further towards government by ministerial diktat in such a sensitive area as education. However, I do not see much alternative at 26 minutes past midnight but to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Joint exercise of functions]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

If Amendment No.58 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No.59.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford moved Amendment No.58: Page 5, line 40, leave out from ("agency") to ("where") in line 41 and insert ("may delegate the exercise of any of their functions to any other relevant funding body").

The right reverend Prelate said: The purpose of the amendment is to clarify, by limiting the power of funding agencies to act together. It is not disputed that there should be co-operation and co-ordination. As it stands, however, the Higher Education Funding Council could ask the teacher training agency to handle all education grants to some institutions.

Many of the colleges of higher education, as distinct from universities, have a proportion of teacher education alongside other higher education courses. Let us take a Church college of higher education in which 55 per cent. of the students are in teacher education and 45 per cent. taking other courses. The Higher Education Funding Council could shunt all financial responsibility through to the teacher training agency, and that could in effect disconnect the college from the Higher Education Funding Council.

The colleges which have diversified are firm in their determination to remain in the higher education sector. I have been asked specifically by the Church colleges and a number of colleges represented by SCOP to press the amendment.

The amendment allows for joint action but ensures that in such cases it is the higher education body which has the pre-eminent responsibility. Delegation can go only that one way: the teacher training agency can delegate its responsibilities to the Higher Education Funding Council but not the other way round. That leaves the colleges in direct touch with the Higher Education Funding Council. I beg to move.

Lord Judd

Perhaps I may make a brief' observation in support of Amendment No.59. I do not understand why the Government have used the word "may". Our amendment would lead to greater efficiency because it would require the funding agency, and any other relevant funding body, to act jointly rather than leaving it as they "may" do so, as the Bill states. I should have thought that that was something that our cost-conscious Government— as they like to describe themselves— would have welcomed. I had hoped that the Minister might feel able at least to accept this amendment.

Baroness Blatch

The right reverend Prelate's amendment replaces the deletion with a provision which in effect allows the agency and Welsh council, when acting under the Bill, to delegate any of the functions to any other funding body. The teacher training agency could delegate the exercise of some— indeed all— of its functions; for example, to the Funding Agency for Schools. Moreover, this could be done without Parliament, the Secretary of State, or indeed the body to which the functions were being delegated, having any say in the matter whatever. I would be surprised if that met with the approval of this Chamber. It is certainly possible that some routine functions may be better carried out by staff working within a different body, but there is nothing to prevent services being brought in from another body as the legislation already stands. The amendment would block valuable joint and co-operative working among funding bodies and allow completely unrestricted delegation of functions. I am sure that that is not what is meant by the amendment.

As to the requirement proposed in Amendment No.59 that the agencies must exercise their duties jointly where they reach certain conclusions about them, I fail to see what such an apparent nannying requirement will amount to in practice. I am sure that if either institution does not want to exercise a power jointly it will decide that the conditions are not met. We have given the agency all the powers that it needs to do its business sensibly. We should let it get on with that without imposing extra, even if unenforceable, duties.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. I recognise that the amendment I have proposed is perhaps too widely drawn. I still feel that there is substance in what I put forward. I should like the opportunity to look more carefully at what the Minister said and, if necessary, bring this back in an amended form at a later stage. I do not think that it is right to detain the Committee at this hour of the night. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Judd

If the Minister has this scepticism I do not know why she has bothered to have the clause at all. If they are not going to do it unless they want to do it, why have the clause? It seems to me that she has defeated her own argument.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos.59 and 60 not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Efficiency studies]:

Lord Judd moved Amendment No.61: Page 6, line I5, at end insert: ("() For the purposes of section 10(1) "any person" shall mean either the Audit Commission or the Office for Standards in Education.").

The noble Lord said: I submit that this new addition to Clause 10 improves the accountability of the TTA and ensures that its activities are monitored by those bodies that are already established for just such a purpose; that is, the Audit Commission and Ofsted. Without this being specified, the funding agency is in the position of choosing its own inspectors. Even by the standards of this Government, clearly that is not satisfactory. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

It would be unduly restrictive to this small but potentially beneficial area of the agency's functions if it were to be limited to only two possible sources of value-for-money studies. I can imagine that the agency may want to promote studies which will be suitably carried out by the Audit Commission and Ofsted. Equally, it may want to do work, such as a study of good purchasing practice like the one recently published by the HEFCE, which may be better done by another body. Because of that unduly restrictive constraint, I hope that the amendment will not be pressed.

Lord Judd

I am not convinced by that reply and neither, do I believe, is the Minister. However, I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Viscount St. Davids

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

House adjourned at twenty six minutes before one o'clock.