HL Deb 28 March 1994 vol 553 cc855-903

4.20 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report on Clause 1 resumed.

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

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

Lord Dainton moved Amendment No. 3: Page 2, line 2, after ("whom") insert ("at least two shall be members of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the sole intention of Amendment No. 3 is to assist the functioning of the teacher training agency by ensuring that standards of judgment in policy making and in the allocation of resources in the teacher training agency are of the same high quality as those used by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, thereby helping to ensure that the activities of the teacher training agency which it supports will give better value for money. Perhaps I should say in passing that the money involved is not negligible. It amounts to about £150 million per annum.

It seems to me that the arrangements proposed in the Bill as it now stands do not ensure that. To explain how that comes about I am afraid that I shall have to take your Lordships back to the Second Reading debate last December and to our debates in Committee on Part I on 10th March.

I then adduced general arguments to show that to transfer the responsibility for the funding of teaching and research in education from the higher education funding councils to the teacher training agency would have certain deleterious effects—I am sure that they were not intended. Prominent among them is the fact that, whereas at present educational studies have to compete for money with studies in other subjects, such as science or medicine, both at the funding level—that is, within the funding council—and at individual university level, under the Bill as it now stands, those healthy competitions at such informed levels will not occur. I also pointed out that, for the same reason, it would be difficult for the Secretary of State to arrive at an appropriate sum of money to allocate to the teacher training agency which would stand the test of time.

I cannot stress too positively that formula funding, which the Minister considered would solve some of the problems, is not driven exclusively by counting student heads. Even as far as teaching alone is concerned, in building up the grant for a university the unit of resource, which is the sum paid for one full-time equivalent student year, not only differs in, for example, non-science subjects as compared with science, but it can also be varied. Indeed, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has already—for very good reasons, I have no doubt—decreased the non-science unit of resource quite significantly. There is no doubt that the funding council could also vary it up or down for any subject category in the future.

In fact, the higher education funding councils build up the grant for each university by a process of summation of elements such as those for all academic subject categories. The grant also takes account of the demands which a given level of activity in each category of subject makes on other departments—for example, in those courses where a student is taking English with education or chemistry with education:, there are many such examples—as well as the demands which are made by that educational course on central facilities such as libraries.

When each university is notified of its allocation (reached in that way), it is, however, told and reminded firmly that the total sum for that university is a block grant. That means that it is for the university to dispose of internally as it wishes. That internal allocation of resources among the various activities involves intense competition—again at the university level—depending upon, among other factors, each university's distinctive academic policy. That is an essential feature of academic autonomy.

More could be said, but I think I have said enough to show that establishing the teacher training agency, to which this House agreed in Committee and which it therefore considers has merits, also has serious disadvantages. For brevity, I summarise them as follows: first, under the arrangements of the TTA, there will be a lack of desirable competition at the highest and best informed levels between the teacher training agency for resources for its restricted purposes and for those resources which will be allocated by the funding council in other academic subject areas.

Secondly, there will be a lack of desirable competition for resources at the institutional level--by which I mean the university level—for the reasons that I have explained.

Thirdly, to the extent that a university receives funds from, and is therefore accountable to, the teacher training agency for part of its work, there could well develop among those staff and others who are financially supported from the TTA source a sense of peculiarity and separation from university staff in other fields. A belief would soon grow that the criteria of standards would differ between those two fields and, consequently, intellectually and practically valuable connections of teacher training with areas of teaching and research cognate with other subjects would suffer and some academic coherence would be lost.

That difficulty could, of course, be partially overcome if the allocations to university departments by the teacher training agency, which the Minister correctly said on 10th March would be on a formula basis to departments, were made according to formulae which were the same as presently used by the higher education funding council both for teaching and research in this field. That would clearly be advantageous, but it would not be enough because it would not be a complete

solution because teaching and research in education would still not benefit from internal university competition for resources.

Amendment No. 3 is designed to minimise those disadvantages by making two members of the higher education funding council (with all their background knowledge of the procedures used there and all their knowledge of the differences between subjects) members of the teacher training agency. In my view, that would ensure some degree of conformity of standards of assessment and research across all higher education areas, including educational studies, and would retain some considerable degree of desirable competition between education and other subject categories at the national level. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, perhaps I may ask a question for clarification. As drafted, it looks as if a member of the HEFC has to be chairman. Is that the intention?

Lord Dainton

My Lords, no, it is not the intention.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, it is unfortunate that we are discussing this—

4.30 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I shall not keep the House long. There is just one point I wish to add to what the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, said in favour of the amendment. It has become recognised, I think, in the course of our debates, that educational research, which is one of the responsibilities of the new agency, is a multiple thing; that is to say, some of it relates to classroom teaching and its methods, and some of it relates to wider questions of how education is organised and financed and its relations with other aspects of government policy. One might wish to alter the balance between the two because it could be thought that one or other was pursued inadequately in this country. If responsibility for teacher education is hived off completely through being given to a separate body, then the problems involved in discussing such an issue will become harder to solve.

The proposal that there should be overlapping membership is fairly straightforward and simple. I am sure it is not intended that one of the members should necessarily be a chairman. In fact, it would be peculiar because they have great responsibilities of their own in the funding council. I hope that the amendment is acceptable.

Lord Judd

My Lords, if we are to proceed with the establishment of a teacher training agency, I have heard nothing in our deliberations so far to suggest that that should be in total isolation from what higher education has to contribute to the quality of the preparation of our teachers. It seems to me that whether or not one is thinking of education itself as a discipline—the insight, the analysis, the reflection, the educational psychology, and the rest—it is tremendously important that that teacher training agency should have a natural dialogue with higher education about the immense responsibili-ties that it will be carrying. It is not a case of the immediate sphere of the discipline of education in its narrow sense; it is about the subject matter of education.

I should have thought that it was a pretty forlorn prospect for our children if the agency responsible for preparing their teachers was to conduct its activities in some way separate from all the research and latest thinking going on in higher education about mathematics, history, science, and all the other subject disciplines which are the substance of education. We can make all sorts of formal arrangements for ensuring that there is some sort of liaison, but all of us who have been in real situations know that there is no substitute for constant human dialogue for those carrying responsibility in different spheres. Therefore I beg the Minister to take this wise amendment seriously and to see that it becomes a creative and positive contribution.

In support of the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, and what I thought was a powerful introduction of the amendment, I recall the question asked in Committee by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles—it is not the first time that I have been impressed by his wisdom and experience during our deliberations—who has of course carried the responsibility in the past of Secretary of State for Education. The question put by the noble Viscount as being the one question that we had to ask ourselves is: will the Bill enhance the status of the teaching profession or will it not?

My contention is that to insist upon proceeding with the establishment of an agency, devoid of a natural human link with those involved in higher education, will lead inevitably to a diminishing of the standards of the profession of teachers and of education. I am therefore delighted to have heard the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, and supported powerfully by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. I am glad to put these Benches and myself firmly behind it.

Lord Walton of Detchant

My Lords, I am in favour of the amendment. As the Minister knows, I was unable to be present for the first two days of the Bill's Committee stage. I am sure that everyone in your Lordships' House shares the objective of doing whatever we possibly can through the Bill, and through other measures which may arise later, to improve the quality of teacher training and education. Although I would hesitate to agree with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, when he criticised the quality of teacher education, it is true that there have been islands in this country where the standard has not been satisfactory. Equally, there have been areas of high standards of education in many of our university departments of education. Through my experience of chairing the National Commission on Education, I was very impressed by the quality of some of the education that I saw being provided for our teachers of tomorrow.

Much of that education is already helping to meet the spiritual, moral, cultural and social issues so eloquently referred to on the first amendment we discussed this afternoon, leading to the development of the character and ability of the young people whom those teachers teach. Of course in the past few years, there has been a striking change in that the teacher training colleges increased slowly but progressively the quality and standard of education provided and sought, very properly, the validation of their degrees by the universities and the former polytechnics. Many departments of education are now working in close partnerships with schools.

There are many in your Lordships' House, I am sure, who will regret that the proposal relating to the possible establishment of a joint teacher training committee of the higher education funding councils was not accepted in Committee. I cannot however forbear mentioning the article published just this morning by Mr. Michael McCrum, the former headmaster of Eton, now Master of Corpus Christi College Cambridge, and former chairman of the Independent Schools Joint Council, where he says how important it is to recognise that whereas practical experience in classroom technique and learning by example from senior teachers in schools is a crucial part of the education of our teachers of the future, it is in the university departments of education and other comparable bodies where the subject content of teacher education, the legal knowledge and the awareness of the latest research findings, are to be found that help to nurture and nourish the quality of that teacher education.

I was glad to read in Hansard that the Committee on the Bill, in its wisdom, passed an amendment which would make it binding that teacher training being conducted in schools would be validated or carried out in partnership with a higher education institution. That is a crucial issue. Mr. McCrum went on to say in today's article that even one of the most prominent and well known of our independent schools had been involved in the education of teachers although the primary purpose of schools is to teach children and not to teach teachers. That particular school had found that the workload involved in educating trainee teachers proved so excessive that the school had reluctantly felt bound to withdraw from the scheme.

The amendment, although in many ways not as good as would have been the establishment of a joint teacher training committee, goes a long way towards meeting many of the concerns that have been expressed by some in your Lordships' House. I hope that it is one that can be accepted.

Lord Skidelsky

My Lords, the proposal in this amendment that at least two members of the teacher training agency should be members of the Higher Education Funding Council is one way of addressing the fact that educational research is multifarious, as my noble friend Lord Eleloff said, and that there are other interests involved in educational research apart from the teacher training agency. I accept that, but this is only one method of trying to square that circle. I believe that there is a better way in which to achieve that; namely, as I propose in Amendment No. 17. That does not disturb the existing arrangements for funding educational research except in specified cases. I believe that that is a superior way of dealing with the matter. If this amendment is accepted, it will lead to many crossed wires and much confusion as to where responsibility lies.

Lord Dainton

My Lords, there is another amendment—I believe that it is Amendment No. 16 —which deals with research and, therefore., this matter would naturally arise on our discussions on that amendment.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

My Lords, as a non-educationist, perhaps I may be forgiven for intervening in the debate. I do so in the hope that on this occasion my noble friend will find it possible to answer the questions which worry me, which she did not manage to do in Committee.

This Government set up the Higher Education Funding Council last year and I believe that [ am right in saying that the council for England became fully operational only in April of last year, which is less than 12 months ago. Therefore, my first question is to ask what the funding council has done or not done that it now deserves to have its neck so summarily wrung.

My second concern is that the teacher training agency will be manned by the nominees of the Secretary of State. I have two worries in that regard: first, it means that the Government will be entirely responsible for teacher training and will be responsible for anything that goes wrong; and secondly—and this is a problem which worries their supporters more than their members—whether the Government ever think about the use which will be made of such proposals by a successor government of a very different mind and of different habits.

I hope that noble Lords opposite will forgive me for dwelling on that point for a few moments. Many Members of the present Government have never been in opposition. They have not faced the frustration and dismay of seeing measures carried out by people to whom they are opposed. I believe that this proposal is one more step along the path of the Government saying, "We are in office; we shall remain in office; we shall continue with these appointments; and there is no fear that somebody else will use them in a very different way in future".

I conclude my remarks by reiterating what has been said very much better by the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, in moving the amendment. Since the Government had their way in Committee and defeated a similar amendment, I hope that on this occasion they might allow the possibility that they are wrong to have some place in their thinking. I hope that they will accept this extremely modest compromise. That would be an act of grace on their part which I should welcome.

4.45 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, I have come round to the view, unlike my noble friend, that the establishment of a teacher training agency is a sensible approach which will bring about much needed change, provided that it is given the power to do the job properly.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, explained the reasoning behind his proposal that two members of the funding council should also be members of the agency. I believe that many of us have discussed the use of such a device and have also had experience of it. I have had experience on a number of occasions of committees on which there was cross-membership. It looks good but I believe that it limits to too great an extent the co-operation that can be brought about by the two bodies. I am sure that the noble Lord would not expect the two members to be mandated to have a point of view. He would merely expect that they would bring their understanding as members of the funding council to bear on those various issues.

I doubt whether that would be effective; and I say that based on my experience. I can understand the thinking behind the amendment but I do not believe that it would work in practice. There is a larger problem which is addressed by Amendments Nos. 16 and 17. We must discuss that in more depth when we reach those amendments. Those amendments deal not only with the question of research and how that may be handled in the Bill but they deal also with the question of what should be the responsibilities of the agency beyond initial teacher training.

I do not imagine that we shall resolve that issue today. I hope that we do not because there is movement in that regard; but we shall return to it later. I do not believe that Amendment No. 3 will be effective and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, will reflect on the matter. I ask him to think about the responsibilities that those two people would have and what they could offer. Any member of the agency who is involved in higher education would have the same knowledge. It is inconceivable that the agency would exclude from its membership people experienced in higher education. I hope that my noble friend will confirm that, because that is basic to our view of the amendment.

I do not believe that this amendment is the right way forward. I hope that we shall have an in-depth discussion on this important issue when dealing with Amendments Nos. 16 and 17.

Earl Russell

My Lords, Amendment No. 16 is in my name and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, that that amendment raises different issues from those which arise on this amendment. Indeed, I believe that the two amendments are perfectly compatible.

Amendment No. 16, and Amendment No. 17 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, deal with issues involving research and higher education. But Amendment No. 3, which we are discussing now, involves making a connection between the work of the Higher Education Funding Council and the work of the teacher training agency. It is what one might describe as the Howards End amendment. It demands that those two should connect. The two bodies will have to understand each other's activities in a great many fields other than just those of higher education. If the communication between the two is not adequate, there will be confusion.

I agree entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, that there is no suggestion that anybody should be mandated to express a particular point of view. What is at stake is the availability of particular information. To that end, this is a practical, small and helpful amendment. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, will accept it.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I was rather puzzled when my noble friend Lord Peyton spoke of the HEFC having its neck wrung because it is only having some of its powers removed and it will go on running about for a long time. However, I hope that my noble friend will tread with some delicacy on this issue because plainly in principle it is right that the two organisations should be closely in touch with each other and that their policies should be in accord with each other.

I must remind noble Lords of the practicalities involved which have not been mentioned so far. That is why I have risen to my feet. We are talking about a body consisting of about eight to 12 people. The amendment would pre-empt the appointment of two of those members—that is, one-quarter of the whole body. If such a body is to work, it is necessary to bring into it all the numerous interests—which is more than eight or 12 —by some other means than prescribing perhaps one-quarter of the total number of places.

Baroness Cox

My Lords, I also believe that the amendment is taking us even further away from the original spirit of the Bill; namely, to increase the number of routes into teacher training and to bring about much more professional and school-based teacher training. The amendment that was passed two weeks ago moved that way as regards higher education. However, when thinking about the membership of such a body, the amendment would, as my noble friend said, pre-empt those two places. Moreover, bearing in mind the spirit of the Bill, there are many other people who might legitimately be considered appropriate and, therefore, the options should be kept as wide as possible. For example, some later amendments which might find favour with your Lordships are those referring to denominational position and/or special needs. To give two places to higher education seems to me to be extremely pre-emptive.

In so far as one of the purposes of the movement towards the change in teacher education is to make opportunities for more professionally based practician education for graduates in school-based policies and to open school-based apprenticeship training schemes for those graduate students who would like that kind of professional practice, I believe that there is a strong case for having representation by practising or recently retired teachers and also those representing academic subjects. The higher education lobby itself—to be slightly provocative for a moment—is not always totally disinterested.

Perhaps I may also draw a parallel with one thing that has been worrying me ever since the other amendment to which I referred was passed. When my own profession of nursing began to move directly into higher education, very often the higher education institutions had their own agendas and interests and were not always directly in favour of the professional practice and the professionalism of my profession as such. I was chairing the health studies committee of the Council for National Academic Awards at that time. When that profession moved into higher education, in some of those courses the higher education representatives had their own staff interests and their own funding interests to such an extent that some of the courses that I was asked to validate were totally unacceptable in terms of the amount of clinical competence that was left on those proposals.

I am very worried that, if the particular proposals for teaching move into higher education institutions, the very valuable apprenticeship aspect and the autonomy of the schools over the professional practice aspect of the new training schemes may be severely eroded. If we have two representatives of the Higher Education Funding Council on the agency it will, again, tilt the balance away from the schools and away from the new schemes in the direction of that particular party to those partnerships. I very strongly resist that pre-emption of those two places in the way suggested.

My noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway pointed out the phrasing of the proposed amendment. I believe that it reads, as set out at present, that one of those people would be the chairman. That would be an even further move in the direction I suggested and one about which I would be deeply unhappy. As I said, I am unhappy about the proposed pre-emption. I very much hope that noble Lords will not accept the amendment.

Baroness Lockwood

My Lords, I should like to express my support for the amendment. If higher education is to be involved in teacher education and training as the Minister has assured us on numerous occasions it will be, and as this Chamber determined two weeks ago through the amendment which was passed, I think it most important that we look at the matter from the point of view of the institutions involved.

The Higher Education Funding Council already makes very considerable demands on universities in terms of administration, in terms of the way it requires information and in terms of the standards that it imposes. If we were then to have a second body which, quite independently, was funding its own part of higher education and imposing different standards and different requirements, the universities would be in an absolutely impossible position.

It is essential that the new agency and the Higher Education Funding Council should work together and co-operate in the matter so that there is as much convergence in their methods as is possible. Therefore, I believe that the first priority on the membership of the teacher training agency should be that it has representatives from the Higher Education Funding Council. I hope that that would not obviate co-operation at other levels. I believe that it would ensure co-operation at that level and the provision of information which could be shared by the two bodies.

Lord Lucas

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, referred to the healthy competition between departments, by which I take it he means the continuation of the current practice of some universities of raiding the budgets of their teacher training departments to move the money over to other activities. One of the great things that the teacher training agency will do is to prevent that practice completely; it will bring with it the independence and status that we now enjoy in further education which has preserved many of those institutions from the depredations of their local authorities.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, also referred to the separation—that is, the disbenefits, as he sees them, of the funding to the teacher training departments coming from a separate source. Universities, schools and further education colleges at present deal with funds from many different sources. I simply do not believe that they value one source less than another; for example, that they regard a researcher funded by ICI as having lesser status than one funded by the Government. If anything, surely it is the opposite.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone

My Lords, perhaps I may add a few words to the debate. I have grave doubts about the wisdom of the amendment now before the House. All professions—and teaching is, above all things, a profession—have two quite separate sides to the training which is necessary to become a professional. I have been trained in more than one profession, but, as I said, they all have two sides. First, there is the academic side which must be dealt with on purely academic lines. For example, if you are a lawyer you have got to know some law —strange as it may appear, and unpopular as it often is. However, you must also know how to cross-examine a witness and how to address the court. Moreover, you must know how to advise on evidence or draft a pleading.

It is the practical side that requires attention. I agree that teaching is exactly the same mutatis mutandis—and, there are a good many mutandis—as any other profession. There is a purely academic side which ranges from education as a subject to the actual subject competence that you are going to teach, whether it will be mathematics, science or history. However, there is also the practical side regarding how you handle your pupils. To pre-empt two places and say that they must come, above all things, from the funding council of the academic side seems to me to beg almost every question that there is to be begged.

I have grave doubts about the wisdom of travelling down the road suggested, even if one of the two most eminent professors not on the funding council proves to be one of the eight or 12 members nominated by the Secretary of State. As for the fear expressed by my noble friend Lord Peyton that a Labour government would be so corrupt as to put its own nominees into a place of authority, looking at the Benches opposite I like to think that that is quite unthinkable. However, they would probably be able to do so even if the amendment were accepted.

5 p.m.

Baroness White

My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I wish to refer to the wording of line 1 of page 2 of the Bill. Should not "less" be written as "fewer"? I was always taught that "less" applied to quantity whereas if one is talking about numbers one should use "fewer". As we are discussing an Education Bill, it seems worth making that tiny point.

Viscount Eccles

My Lords, as I cannot speak after the Minister has spoken, I rise to speak now. I believe there are two questions here. One is: how can teachers be trained so they can teach as well as they can be taught to teach? The other is: how can one raise the teaching profession in society to bring it to the level of all the other professions so that it will attract the right kind of young man and young woman? At present I suppose that many universities do their part of teacher training pretty badly. In my day they performed that part of teacher training pretty badly, if they did it at all. However, some universities perform that function well. The question before us, surely, is whether we should build on those which do it well and establish whether we cannot encourage many more to do it well, or whether we must cut them out.

When I was young I was told always to keep a hold of nurse for fear of something worse. I believe this teacher training agency is worse than the universities. Therefore I would keep hold of the universities. We will never reach a situation where teachers are respected in the way that doctors and lawyers are unless teachers are associated with universities. I am not clear what the amendment states as I have hardly read it, but I believe I will have to vote against it.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, my noble and learned friend raised a point that goes wide of the amendment. We are talking here about membership of the agency and not about the content or the nature of training. That is dealt with through certain criteria and the way in which the agency has to operate. There will be amendments later which address the particular concerns of my noble and learned friend. It is disappointing that we are not dealing with this amendment together with 15 amendments that follow. We are talking about the membership of the agency. Somehow or other this amendment has pre-empted the debate on what will follow.

My noble friend Lord Elton made a point that I was going to make at the outset; namely, the body we are discussing comprises between eight and 12 members. Noble Lords are talking about filling between 16 and 25 per cent. of the available places from just one interest group. From what I have heard, noble Lords appear to be ignorant of the fact that we will take into account teacher trainers, academics, who are not involved directly with teacher training, and teachers and lecturers. It is simply inconceivable that we would have a board without higher education input.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, made a similar point when he said that somehow or other higher education was being ignored. However, those involved in teaching and lecturing, teacher trainers and also academics who are not directly teacher trainers all comprise categories of people who will need to be taken into account when these appointments are made. In appointing members to this body, I imagine that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education will consider carefully the case for overlapping membership of the two bodies we have discussed. We expect them to work closely together and joint membership would be one way of securing that.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, referred to ring-fencing leading to fragmentation. Universities commonly receive funding from a whole range of sources. As regards research, for example, many receive funds from the research councils as well as from the funding council and that does not appear to have led to fragmentation. If it has, there have been no complaints about it from noble Lords in this House. The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, also addressed the issue of assessment. Assessment in teacher education is largely a function of Her Majesty's inspectorate and will continue to be so under our proposals. There is no question at all of downgrading that aspect. The funding council was more than happy to use Her Majesty's inspectorate's full report as the main source of assessment evidence.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, also referred to competition for funds. Ring-fenced funds for teacher training will not be able to be spent on other disciplines. I have no worries about that. The agency will make sure that funds go to high quality provision. The competition will arise between institutions which deliver the provision. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, made the comment that there was no higher education representation on the agency or representation from those with knowledge of higher education. There could be no question of establishing a body without members who were knowledgeable of and about higher education. Indeed Clause 2 makes all this clear when it refers to the experience that would be required. We shall be strengthening those references in later amendments which, as I have said, unhappily, are not grouped with this amendment. However, that is not the same as overlapping membership.

I note the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady White. Anything that improves the grammar of an Education Bill will be taken seriously. My noble friend Lord Peyton admonished me for not dealing with his questions in Committee. However, I have considered the entirety of what was said in Committee and I confirm that I answered his questions although I may not have referred directly to his name in the course of debate when answering them. On this occasion he asked what the Higher Education Funding Council had done wrong. It has done nothing wrong but it does not have the combination of powers which we believe will increase standards and efficiency as regards the funding of schools as well as higher education and as regards the promotion of the Teaching as a Career Unit and the accreditation of institutions. That will be an important and valuable role. I repeat what I said in Committee. This agency is subsuming the role played by the Teaching as a Career Unit, the Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and that part of my department which is involved directly with teacher training, none of which came under the umbrella of the Higher Education Funding Council.

My noble friends Lord Campbell of Alloway and Lady Cox were concerned about ambiguity in the amendment. I hope I may be presumptuous and answer that question on behalf of the proposer of the amendment. I do not believe there is ambiguity here. If one considers it as a whole, it is tolerably clear that the one who is to be chairman is one of the 12 and not of the two Higher Education Funding Council representatives. My noble friend Lord Beloff made the point that Higher Education Funding Council members are busy people. That is indeed so, and it would therefore be impossible to know in advance whether two of those members would be free to be members of both bodies. That is another flaw in the amendment. We are talking about busy people and if they were not prepared to take membership of two national bodies under their belts, there would be vacancies on the agency and that would be unthinkable.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, was concerned about joint information. That is an important point as regards links between these two bodies. The provisions for joint working in Clause 9 are designed to ensure that necessary flows of information occur as well as other joint activity whenever the council and the agency can see value and benefit from that arrangement. It is important not just that the board members of each organisation should come together formally but that the two bodies should work together for the benefit of promoting good teacher training.

The noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, referred to his friend Mr. McCrum. He also referred to the experience of Eton and said that schools were not the place for teacher framing. He gave an example of some of the difficulties which could arise. I submit the analogy of a patient lying ill in a bed surrounded by a number of medical students. Such a patient may well think that a hospital is no place for people to learn their trade. However, I believe the noble Lord, Lord Walton, would argue that a hospital is a proper place for medical students to learn their craft and to be educated in the whole business of being good doctors. My noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham has also said that once a lawyer has the subject of law under his or her command, he should receive practical training in applying that knowledge.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, was anxious about the one-way membership from the HEFC to the teacher training agency. I would have more respect for that argument and the incredible efforts being made to promote the amendment if there had been a clamour for a member of the Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education to be a member of the Higher Education Funding Council, but I do not remember any pressure for teachers to become involved in a world which almost totally controlled teacher education.

My noble friend Lord Skidelsky made a point that I would have made. We must not confuse the amendment to include two members of the HEFC among the members of the agency with the debate that we shall have later on research. While that is an important subject they are very different issues.

I am anxious that we should not write more and more detailed rules into the Bill. We need to allow the best people for the job to be chosen at any particular time. We cannot always guarantee that there will be those who are willing and able to be members of both bodies. If no current funding council member had the time or inclination to serve also on the agency the Secretary of State would have to remove a member from the council and appoint somebody who was willing to do so. Is that what the noble Lord wishes?

Those objections would be powerful even if only one member of the agency was at issue, but since the amendment would require two joint members the difficulties would be doubled. The scope for meeting the increasingly detailed requirements which your Lordships wish to see in Clause 2 while at the same time finding two places for existing funding council members would be very limited. I hope that, on reflection, noble Lords will withdraw the amendment.

Lord Dainton

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply. I thank her for making it clear that the amendment is not concerned with research. We should be clear about that. That subject will be dealt with later under Amendment No. 16.

I can assure the House that I never had in mind—and I hope that no one had in mind—the notion of mandating people from one committee to another. In my experience that never works.

I have seen this work, and I have seen instances where it has not worked. I have seen the flaws. I shall mention two bodies which are different in their characteristics—the Old University Grants Committee and its successor bodies, on the one hand, which are responsible for a great deal of research in universities, and what was the Council for Scientific Policy, of which I was chairman, and its successor body the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, on the other. Later the cross-membership which existed, in particular with the chairman of the University Grants Committee being a member of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, was lost. Everyone is agreed that that was a great mistake. In fact, the Minister said so when we were taking evidence in the Science and Technology Committee. Under the new arrangements that cross-membership is to be restored.

The argument that people who are busy cannot do the job well and cannot move from their original parent body and bring a fresh mind and the necessary knowledge to the second body of which they are a member is not valid in any way.

Nor do I accept the argument—which I find rather disreputable—that a hidden agenda would somehow he brought by a member of one body to another body. The people we appoint to bodies of this kind in this country are not of that quality. If they were they would not be of the quality that we ought to have.

In her summing up, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, agreed about the confusion with research. She left me a little confused about overlapping membership. I evidently failed to explain to your Lordships that I want to see competition at a high level of quality which does not sink when we have the teacher training agency but is sustained at a high level. That is the purpose of the amendment. That competition is with other areas of study, both at the national level and at the institutional level. That is the key point. We shall lose that as matters stand at present unless we can be guaranteed some cross-membership of this kind.

I noted what the noble Baroness said about taking account of these matters in the membership, but I feel that we need to go further. I am anxious to retain tough criteria of quality and standards. This is one way of helping that forward without having people who are representative of one body serving on another but instead having people who bring their knowledge and experience and their judgment to the problems of the second body.

After hearing the other speakers I am left in a good deal of confusion as to where opinion lies in this House. This is a matter of such importance that, although there were moments when I was tempted to withdraw the amendment, I do not feel that in the circumstances I can do so. I therefore wish to test the opinion of the House.

5.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 119; Not-Contents, 142.

Division No. 1
Addington, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Airedale, L. Hooson, L.
Ardwick, L. Howell, L.
Attlee, E. Howie of Troon, L.
Aylestone, L. Hughes, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Beloff, L. Irvine of Lairg, L.
Blackstone, B. Jay, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. Jeger, B.
Boston of Faversham, L. Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Brain, L. Judd, L.
Bridges, L. Kilbracken, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Kirkhill, L.
Carter, L. Kirkwood, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B. Lawrence, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Listowel, E.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Lockwood, B.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Longford, E.
Dainton, L. [Teller.] Lovell-Davis, L.
David, B. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Mallalieu, B.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, Mason of Barnsley, L.
Desai, L. Mayhew, L.
Donoughue, L. McFarlane of Llandaff, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. McNair, L.
Ennals, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Falkland, V. Molloy, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Fitt, L. Mulley, L.
Gallacher, L. Nicol, B.
Geraint, L. Ogmore, L.
Gladwyn, L. Park of Monmouth, B.
Glenamara, L. Peston, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.] Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Greene of Harrow Weald, L. Plant of Highfield, L.
Greenway, L. Redesdale, L.
Grey, E. Richard, L.
Halsbury, E. Ripon, Bp.
Hamwee, B. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Hanworth, V. Rochester, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Haskel, L. Russell, E.
Healey, L. Seear, B.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Shannon, E. Tonypandy, V.
Shepherd, L. Tordoff, L.
Sherfield, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Simon of Glaisdale, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Stedman, B. Walton of Detchant, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L. Warnock, B.
Strabolgi, L. Wharton, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L. White, B.
Taylor of Gryfe, L. Wigoder, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Thurlow, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Aberdare, L. HolmPatrick, L.
Addison, V. Hothfield, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Howe, E.
Annaly, L. Huntly, M.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L Kenyon, L.
Ashbourne, L. Killearn, L.
Astor, V. Kimball, L.
Balfour, E. Kinnoull, E.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L. Lane of Horsell, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Lauderdale, E.
Birdwood, L. Leigh, L.
Blatch, B. Long, V.
Blyth, L. Lucas, L.
Borthwick, L. Lyell, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L.[Lord Chancellor.]
Braine of Wheatley, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Mancroft, L.
Cadman, L. Manton, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Marlesford, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Marsh, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Merrivale, L.
Carnock, L. Mersey, V.
Chalker of Wallasey, B. Middleton, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L. Miller of Hendon, B.
Chelmsford, V. Milverton, L.
Chesham, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Clanwilliam, E. Mottistone, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Mountgarret, V.
Courtown, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Cox, B. Moyne, L.
Craigavon, V. Munster, E.
Cumberlege, B. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Davidson, V. Northbourne, L.
Dean of Harptree, L. O'Cathain, B.
Dixon-Smith, L. Orkney, E.
Donegall, M. Orr-Ewing, L.
Downshire, M. Palmer, L.
Dudley, E. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Eccles, V. Perry of Southwark, B.
Elles, B. Prentice, L.
Elton, L. Quinton, L.
Faithfull, B. Radnor, E.
Ferrers, E. Rennell, L.
Flather, B. Renton, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Gainford, L. Seccombe, B.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Shrewsbury, E.
Geddes, L. Skidelsky, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L. St. Davids, V.
Goold, L. Stewartby, L.
Goschen, V. Strange, B.
Gridley, L. Strathcarron, L.
Haddington, E. Strathclyde, L.
Haig, E. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E. [Teller.]
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L Sudeley, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Swansea, L.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L. Swinfen, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Teviot, L.
Harmsworth, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Harrowby, E. Torrington, V.
Haslam, L. Trefgarne, L.
Hayhoe, L. Trumpington, B.
Henley, L. Tugendhat, L.
Holderness, L.
Ullswater, V. [Teller.] Westbury, L.
Vaux of Harrowden, L. Whitelaw, V.
Wade of Chorlton, L. Wise, L.
Wakeham, L. [Lord Privy Seal. Wyatt of Weeford, L.
Wedgwood, L. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5.24 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 4, I have to say that if Amendment No. 4 is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 5 to 7 inclusive.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 6, leave out from ("in") to ("or") in line 8 and insert ("—

  1. (i)the provision of education in schools,
  2. (ii)the training of teachers, or
  3. (iii)the provision of higher education other than the training of teachers,").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 4, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 5 to 12. 27 and 44 to 48. The group includes a number of government amendments which deal with points on membership of the agency raised by noble Lords during the previous stage. I shall start by saying something about each of them and some linked amendments in the group, before turning to the other amendments on membership also before us.

In the government amendments we hold to the principle that members should be chosen for the personal contribution that they can make and not in any representative capacity. But we have been glad to accept that there is a range of areas of experience and expertise to which it would be right.—

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend could give way. Could she kindly either speak a little more loudly or could other noble Lords refrain from joining in? I need to know what she is saying and I have not yet been able to hear a word. I am very sorry.

Baroness Match

My Lords, I start again. I am moving Amendment No. 4 and speaking to Amendments Nos. 5 to 12, 27 and 44 to 48. Again the group includes a number of government amendments which deal with points on membership of the agency raised by noble Lords during the previous stage. I shall say something about them and some linked amendments in the group before turning to the other amendments on membership also before us.

In the government amendments we hold to the principle that members should be chosen for the personal contribution which they can make and not in any representative capacity. But we have been glad to accept that there is a range of areas of experience and expertise to which it would be right to require the Secretary of State to have regard in considering possible members.

My noble friend Lord Pearson has tabled a further amendment drawing attention to the value of experience of providing higher education other than teacher training. I hope my noble friend will agree that Amendment No. 5 secures his intention equally well by making separate references to teacher education experience and wider academic experience.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

My Lords, I am sony to interrupt again, but does my noble friend in fact mean Amendment No. 4?

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I have to say that;I am not sure. The amendments were tabled so late that in order to improvise over the weekend I have been dealing with one set of numbers. I now see that I am dealing with another set of numbers. I understand that Amendment No. 4 is my amendment; Amendment No. 5 is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd; Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 are in the name of my noble friend Lord Pearson; Amendment No. 8 is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd; Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are in the name of my noble friend Lord Pearson; Amendment No. 11 stands in my name; Amendment No. 12 is in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford; Amendments Nos. 27 and 44 to 48 stand in my name. I believe that the amendment to which I have just referred is Amendment No. 7. Is that right, or is it Amendment No. 6?

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

My Lords, I think that the amendment to which my noble friend alludes is Amendment No. 4, which has the qualities that she seeks.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, my noble friend has tabled a further amendment (which I understand is Amendment No. 6) drawing attention to the value of experience of providing higher education other than teacher training. I hope that he will agree that Amendment No. 4 secures his intention equally well by making separate references to teacher education experience and wider academic experience. It is indeed important that the agency should be able to draw on a breadth of experience of higher education in its deliberations.

My noble friend has also pursued in his Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 his concern that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State should draw on the recently retired in making appointments to the agency and not just current practitioners in any field. II is to avoid the danger of bodies like the agency being entirely composed of retired people who have the time to offer to such endeavours that the reference to current experience is commonly written into legislation of this kind. I should be loath to excise the reference to current experience, as Amendment No. 9 would do. I must stress again that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will be able to appoint retired people as well as current practitioners; and he has very recently done so for the schools funding agency which is governed by similar provisions to those in Clause 2. I can say to my noble friend that recently retired members of the profession can indeed make a very real contribution to such a body.

Amendment No. 10, which tips the balance in favour of recently retired teachers, has some consequences which I am sure were not intended. As drafted, it would require my right honourable friend to take account of the desirability of all appointees being recently retired teachers, which would cut across my noble friend's desire to include academics with no links with teacher education. If the intention is that those chosen for their teaching experience should be recently retired, I have to say that this would limit the Secretary of State's discretion too much. My right honourable friend must have the ability to choose the best person from any background, regardless of his or her current status.

As my noble friend knows, I have every sympathy with the case for allowing the agency to draw on the wisdom and experience of the recently retired. Indeed, it is because this is such an obvious group to use on bodies of this kind that I am confident that we do not need to put their claim on the face of the Bill.

In Committee, I assured the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford that I accepted the principle behind his amendment to ensure that the important role played by the Churches in teacher training was also taken account of in appointing members to the new agency. But I could not accept his amendment as drafted because I was advised that it might have untoward effects on the clause as a whole. I hope that he will feel able to endorse Amendment No. 11, which I believe will secure the outcome that he wished to see and ensure that the large body of denominational providers is not overlooked. Amendments Nos. 27, 44 and 47 are consequential on this aspect of Amendment No. 11 and ensure that the definition of denominational provision is appropriate for use in both Clauses 2 and 6.

I am not, as the right reverend Prelate knows, persuaded that the Churches should be given the right to be consulted about every single appointment to the agency and every subsequent vacancy. I know that that is what the 1993 Act secures for the Funding Agency for Schools, but if I may quote the noble Earl, Lord Russell, that does not necessarily mean that we should do it again. There will be occasions when an ad hoc vacancy occurs when it would be a waste of everyone's time to require consultation with the Churches as the gap in knowledge and experience which needed to be filled was of a very different sort.

I am afraid that limiting the duty to consult to the appointment of members filling a Church place on the agency is not a possible way forward. As I said earlier, there are no "representative" places on the agency and no group has a claim to them. I must therefore resist the suggestion that this issue should be dealt with on the face of the Bill. However, I should like publicly to reassure the right reverend Prelate and place on record our intention to consult the Churches both about initial appointments and any future appointments in which the Churches might be thought to have a legitimate interest.

I hope that Amendment No. 11 will also answer the points made during the Committee stage by the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), when speaking to an amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rix. It will require the Secretary of State to take notice of experience relevant to teaching those with special educational needs when he considers the agency's membership. The amendment underlines our determination that the agency should have equal regard for the interests of those with special educational needs as for all others.

Amendments Nos. 45, 46 and 48 are consequential to this aspect of Amendment No. 11. They insert in Clause 17 a definition of persons with special educational needs. The definition covers both pupils and others with special educational needs. Therefore the Secretary of State will be able to take account of experience in providing further and higher education to those with learning difficulties as well as those working with school pupils with special educational needs and those training teachers for that role.

Amendments No. 5, 6 and 7 clearly indicate an anxiety about the drafting of Clause 2 which is shared by some of my noble friends and noble Lords opposite. It is that the provision of education as the Bill has it cannot be equated with teaching and so we might find ourselves with an agency full of bureaucrats rather than school or higher education teachers. In the context of the clause, I do not believe that there is any reason for anxiety on this score. It is teachers who provide education in school for all our pupils, and lecturers and supervisors who provide higher education. Those at one remove—governors, LEAs, even vice-chancellors and non-teaching heads—are governed by the second limb in the subsection; those "having responsibility" for the provision of education as opposed to those actually doing it.

I imagine that experience of educational research might indeed be a very good attribute for a member of the agency. Those responsible for the training of teachers often have research experience; those with other higher education experience will have their own research background. I resist Amendment No. 8 because it adds again unnecessarily to the detail in the Bill and runs the risk of seeming to add two new categories—education researchers and other researchers—to those we have already included. It seems to me that if the law governing the Higher Education Funding Council, with its £3 billion budget and larger membership, does not require us to have regard to research experience in appointing members, there is no case for doing so explicitly for the agency. Higher education is, for this Bill as for the 1993 Act, a broad enough term to cover all that is required. I ask the House therefore to accept amendments Nos. 4, 11, 27, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48 and to reject Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12. I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

Lord Judd

My Lords, I wish, first, to express my sympathy to the Minister for having to cope with many amendments at the last moment. I understand her difficulty. We have had the minimum amount of time between the two stages and I recognise that that was to meet the convenience of us all. However, I express my gratitude for the way in which she has coped; I too have found myself going boss-eyed on these occasions.

Our deliberations on this part of the Bill illustrate the problem. If there is to be a TTA, which is what the Bill is all about, the self-evident case for having it should be the additionality and the improved quality that it will bring to the whole realm of education. As we get down to defining the TTA, we are beginning to discover a host of anxieties about how far it can possibly represent the interests that will be affected. From that standpoint, a vast question-mark exists about the validity of the whole enterprise, and it becomes clearer as we proceed.

Perhaps I may apply myself to the specific amendments. I do not often say this but I very much welcome the spirit of Amendment No. 7, which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. He will readily realise that it deals with many of the anxieties about which I spoke earlier today. I am glad to see it on the Marshalled List. I should also like to say in a charitable frame of mind that I am glad to see the Minister's Amendment No. 11 in so far as it relates to special educational needs. That is a vital and important provision.

I hope that the right reverend Prelate will forgive my following observation—I am always inclined to irritate him by these observations. I worry about language in this context and am worried about references to "denominational". I know that there can be a broad interpretation of the meaning of the word "denominational". Prior to reaching the Report stage of this Bill today the House was dealing with the fact that we are a multi-faith, multi-cultural society. We need to use language which suggests that in our consultations we are taking into account the interests of the widest possible cross-section of people of different faiths and religions. When we do not, people are, understandably and with reason, inclined to react with anxiety.

As regards Amendment No. 5, my memory has been jogged. The distinguished father of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, said in The Function of a Teacher: No one would consent in our day to subject the medical man to the control of non-medical authorities, except where they depart criminally from the purpose of medicine, which is to cure the patient. The teacher is a kind of medical man but he is not allowed to decide what methods are suitable to this end". In the Minister's amendment reference is made to, "the provision of education". I am not sure what that phrase means. It could mean many things. We believe that on this body there ought to be the experience of teaching. Therefore our Amendment No. 5 sets out to make that point categorically clear; namely, that what we are looking for is the experience of teaching.

It is true that during the Committee stage—I believe I quote her accurately—the Minister specifically said that she expected that we would see on the teacher training agency those who qualified as teachers. But we do not see that as a firm enough commitment. Hence, we tabled this amendment.

Amendment No. 8 in a way relates to what has just happened in the House in relation to the previous amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dainton. We are saying here that it is essential, if the quality, status and standing of the profession are to be preserved, to have people on the TTA who have experience of and have shown capacity in research in higher education, including research into the theory, practice and management of education. I do not think that we can have it both ways. If we are being assured that the new agency will not diminish the standing, status and role of the profession—indeed, I presume that Ministers will continue to argue that in their view it will enhance them, and that is why they want it—surely the whole process must have at its disposal that kind of experience as an integrated part of the operation. To exclude it raises the danger that we shall see a sort of ghetto area which is there at a lower second-class status for the preparation of our teachers. We therefore see Amendment No. 8 as also central.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

My Lords, I must apologise if I have tried the patience of the House by interrupting my noble friend two times, but it seemed to me that she was supporting Amendment No. 5 at one point, which is very similar indeed to my own Amendment No. 6, whereas the rest of her remarks led me to believe that she was about to refuse it, as indeed she did.

My name is to Amendments Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 10. If I could start with Amendments Nos. 9 and 10, I would say that I am very happy to accept what my noble friend has already said on this matter to the effect as I understood her that there probably will be people with teaching experience on the teacher training agency who have recently retired from teaching in schools. The purpose of my amendment was to try to remove the emphasis which there seems to me to be in the Bill at the moment in Clause 2, lines 11 to 13, which gives in my view too much of an emphasis to people who are currently engaged in the provision of or carrying on the matters referred to earlier. As I think I understood that, when the time comes I will be very happy to withdraw those two amendments.

But I think that Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 are perhaps more serious and go a little further than my noble friend has gone in tabling Amendment No. 4. I welcome what she has been able to do in that sense at Committee stage. She has been able to put into the Bill that people with experience of provision of higher education other than the training of teachers will be included. That is certainly a step forward. But I am not sure that it goes quite far enough. I would hope that my noble friend might be able to say that she will consider her Amendment No. 4 and Amendment No. 5 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, and my own Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 in the name also of my noble friend Lady Cox.

The reason I say that is that I think the Bill, even as amended by my noble friend's Amendment No. 4, talks of putting people onto the agency who have experience of, the provision of education in schools". There I join with the noble Lord, Lord Judd, in wondering what "the provision of education" might mean. I would fear —and I imagine it might not be a fear shared by the noble Lord, Lord Judd—that this might include local authority education officers and others whom I would like to see in a rather diminished number on the agency.

What I am trying to get at in Amendment No. 6 is indeed that people who have experience of teaching in schools rather than the provision of education in schools should be on the agency; and that also when one comes to higher education people who have experience of teaching academic subjects in higher education other than teacher education or training should be on this agency. I do not believe that this is widening the categories very far. I think that my noble friend the Minister and I, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, are very close on Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6. Therefore I hope that my noble friend will be able to say that she might have a further look at them before we come to Third Reading.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Rix

My Lords, I support most warmly Amendment No. 11, and particularly paragraph (b), which ensures that a member of the teacher training agency shall have relevant experience or responsibility for the provision of special educational needs. I also support Amendments Nos. 44, 45 and 46. As the Minister is aware, an amendment very similar to this one was tabled in my name during the Committee stage of the Bill. Unfortunately I had to be absent because of a family funeral. I am delighted that the argument was put forward so cogently and well by my noble friend Lady Darcy (de Knayth) and also the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, and other noble Lords. I am very grateful to them, and I am grateful to the Minister for her acceptance of this particular amendment.

Lord Glenamara

My Lords, I hate to disagree with my noble friend on my own Front Bench. He is my noble friend—and is a very good friend. But I support the amendment of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford.

It is a very great pity that hardly anybody knows anything nowadays about the history of education in England and Wales. If one looks at the growth of the education system in Britain, it was largely brought about in the early years, and indeed throughout the whole of the 19th century, by the Churches. The two great societies provided schools throughout the country. They were financed by the Privy Council. But when the Forster Act was passed in 1870 and the school boards were established, the great majority of schools, (even after that,) were Church schools. Of course they have persisted to this day.

It is not only in relation to schools but also teacher education in which the Churches played a major part. Until very recently I think probably a majority of training colleges, before they were absorbed into higher education, were owned by the Church of England, and some by the Free Churches. It is a very great pity that that vast amount of experience and knowledge should not be consulted. That is all that the right reverend Prelate asks—that they be consulted about appointments to this board. I therefore have very great pleasure in warmly supporting the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford.

The Earl of Radnor

My Lords, perhaps I may say very briefly how pleased I am to see Amendment No. 11 on the list of amendments. It seemed a terrible omission that there was no mention of special needs in the original Bill, coming just at a time when it is recognized that children with special needs are in far greater proportion in the school population than was ever thought to be the case. Now at least it seems that we shall have people on the TTA who will have some knowledge of this matter. That in itself is very important. It is important that those particular words were put on the face of the Bill. I am very grateful indeed.

I realise that "teaching" as written in the Bill must presumably mean all sorts of teaching, including the teaching of those with special needs. Past history has always been that special needs and specific learning difficulties have always been somehow "fudged up" when it came to the classroom and teacher training. I hope that this matter will be carried a little further when we come to Amendment No. 24, which relates to funding and representation, to see whether perhaps that idea is also acceptable.

I appreciate that it is difficult to be specific in such a Bill and that it is much better to use general terms. But in view of the numbers of people involved and the fewness of the teachers, it is not a small affair at all. My experience, as a non-educationist but perhaps on the fringe of the situation, has been fairly long. In the Bill we have a funding agency for teacher training. We have always missed trained teachers in that area and the money to train them.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

My Lords, let me echo the thanks given by my noble friend Lord Rix and the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, and welcome most warmly Amendment No. 11. Once again the Minister has listened. I seem to be saying "Thank you" rather more often than "Please". It is a pleasant experience for both of us. I am particularly pleased with the Minister's amendment because it is linked to subsection (2), which refers to current experience. That is very important if the evaluation of the quality of special needs teaching is to be as informed as possible.

I listened to the Minister when she commented on the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, with regard to recently retired teachers. During a meeting that we had last week on the Bill, one very well known professor with vast experience in special needs teaching —I shall not name him because I comment on the spur of the moment and have not checked with him that I can mention this matter; I do not wish to indulge in special pleading but it is important to stress the point at this stage—said that he was due to retire next year and did not believe that he would be in a position to offer the required up to the minute expertise to be a member of the agency. Special needs teaching is a fast moving field and it is important for people to be currently engaged in the profession. I am therefore particularly pleased that the amendment is related to subsection (2) and I welcome it wholeheartedly.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford

My Lords, I should like to speak to Amendment No. 12 in my name. First, let me express my warmest thanks to the Minister for the statement that she made a few moments ago. I welcome her Amendment No. 11, which makes explicit reference to the institutions of a denominational character. I also bear in mind that in Committee she said that it was inconceivable that the Church colleges would not be considered in appointments to the teacher training agency. Also, during the course of her remarks this afternoon she made a public statement giving the assurance that the Churches would be consulted. That is very reassuring and I am immensely grateful to her.

In the light of that, it seems almost churlish to push her —no, I would never do that—or rather to encourage her to go a little further. She can give that assurance that the Churches will be consulted, and so I wonder whether that should not be on the face of the Bill. I have no wish to rehearse what I said in Committee but I had to tell the House then that our experience of consultation when a matter was on the face of the Bill was none too happy. Therefore it is a somewhat anxious moment for me now to have to rely on the Minister's statement when the provision is not on the face of the Bill.

I do not want to repeat what I said in Committee but I must add one comment. Noble Lords will remember that in Committee the Minister regretted that I did not refer to the letter from the Secretary of State in which he apologised for not informing me of the appointments. Subsequently, I made reference to that letter. I have responded to it, indicating that, although I am grateful for the apology, the letter totally failed to meet my concern about lack of consultation. I offered to meet him, his Minister or anybody else to resolve those issues. I have not had a reply.

I do not wish to rehearse that again but that is our experience. For that reason I feel that I ought at least to press in principle the matter of consultation being on the face of the Bill. It seems to me that the purpose of consultation is twofold. It is in order to ensure that those with experience put their heads together in order to secure the best and most appropriate people to serve on the teacher training agency. The second reason is in order to ensure that those who are very much in the teacher training field have full confidence in the membership of the teacher training agency.

I am enormously grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarnara, for giving such an effective trailer to what I wanted to say. It is perfectly true that the Church colleges largely pioneered the whole area of teacher education in the 19th century. They are still in that business today. The Church and associated colleges currently have 43,000 full-time students and 18,000 part-time students, approximately half of whom are studying education. That is an enormous stake in the business of teacher education. The fact that we have been historically in that field and are still there merits the provision that we should be fully consulted on the future of teacher education.

I should like to respond to the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I do not use the word "denomination". It is not a word that I like. It has a narrow and slightly 'exclusive ring to it. That is not the situation. The word is only used because that is the legal language that is used in order to define institutions of a denominational character. If the noble Lord looks carefully at my amendment, he will notice in paragraph (c) that it asks the Secretary of State to consult not only the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, which have the principal colleges, but also other denominations—the Free Churches have colleges of education as well—and representatives of other religions. We are sensitive to the fact that we live in a multi-faithed society, although historically the principal religion in this country is Christian and it is the Church colleges which have taken such a major part in teacher education.

I am immensely grateful to the Minister for the assurances that she gave. However, I am sure she will understand when I ask, if she can give those assurances so clearly, firmly and publicly in the House in that way, whether there is not an argument for saying that that provision should be on the face of the Bill. I do not ask for that in the rather wide terms of my own amendment. I recognise that I have replicated what is in the 1993 Act. But we probably made a mistake in that Act—I believe that is what the Minister is saying—in requiring consultation to be too wide. I feel that, when taking into account the denominational interest, there should be the fullest consultation with the Churches and that should be on the face of the Bill.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I deeply sympathise with my noble friend the Minister over the great complexities about who will be on the teacher training agency. I fully appreciate that she does not want to be too prescriptive because that would make the agency other than the Government would wish.

I very much welcome Amendment No. 11, which I was glad to hear was welcomed by the noble Lord, Lord Rix, and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth). I also appreciate the welcome given to that amendment by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford and I intervene to answer one of the points made by him. As I understand it, with Amendment No 12 he wants to have consultation written on the face of the Bill.

We have to recognise that it is possible to refer to what is said in Hansard. That record does make a difference and has been upheld in the court in that way. It is not just a matter of considering an issue in a rather interesting, slightly academic way without the debate having some effect. That needs to be borne in mind. Having said that, I hope that the point made by the right reverend Prelate is one with which we all agree and that it is subsumed in Amendment No. 11.

My other point is that I hope very much that my noble friend will look at the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Pearson about teaching. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, will no doubt be astonished to find that I agree with him on this point. One of the underlying principles of the Bill is the importance of teaching. If my noble friend looks again at any of these matters, I hope that is one which she feels is important to include in Amendment No. 4 in some way.

6 p.m.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, while I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in saying that since, a recent judgment statements made in the House and reported in Hansard will be taken into account in cases, nonetheless I wish to support the point made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford that the matter should be placed on the face of the Bill. That judgment may not always stand. It may be modified at a later stage and it would not surprise me if it were. Problems can plainly arise from leaving the matter as it stands.

If it is accepted that consultation should take place —and I believe that it should—it is difficult to believe that it is not possible for it to appear on the face of the Bill. That would be much more satisfactory than it simply being left as a reference in Hansard.

Lord Desai

My Lords, there are many points in Amendments Nos. 4, 11 and 12 which clearly make them inclusive. I hope therefore that I do not sound churlish when I say that what stands out by its omission is any reference to equality of opportunity.

At the Committee stage I tabled amendments saying that experience in implementing the policy of equality of opportunity, and in general the whole question of the multi-racial nature of society, should be taken on board. One must have qualifications in every other field—industrial, commercial, financial and practical matters or in any profession. One must have higher education experience. Yet when it comes to the question of the multi-racial character of the society we omit it. That is a pity. I cannot say anything stronger.

I do not believe that allowing for multiple faiths resolves the issue. We may be encouraging certain communities, which do not maintain their own religious schools, to start them. That would not be a healthy trend. We should say that somewhere along the line the question of the multi-racial nature of society will be taken on board and people with experience in that field will be heard. The clutch of amendments before us does not allow that.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn

My Lords, these are very much matters of balance. Though I take the point of the right reverend Prelate that he does not insist on sticking by the wording of his amendment, nonetheless, when we are talking of writing something on the face of the Bill, the wording is relevant. Whereas one can accept that it is appropriate to consult the Churches in a general sense when talking of the membership of the teacher training agency, in my view it is too strong to say that before appointing any member of the agency the Secretary of State shall consult. There would be endless cycles of consultation.

I have great sympathy with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Desai. He is not suggesting that we table an amendment whereby the point is written into the Bill in an explicit way; we do not want endless cycles of consultation. But he drew attention to an extremely important area which is not covered in any of the amendments and is not explicitly covered in any of the texts before us. I sometimes wonder whether we are sometimes careful to protect the interests of those who are already to some extent protected—I take the point of the right reverend Prelate that they must continue adequately to be protected—and overlook areas which have become important in our society but which are not yet adequately covered or protected.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I am extremely grateful for the positive comments made during the course of the debate. I do not believe that too much divides us on these amendments.

Perhaps I can deal first with the points made by the right reverend Prelate and pray in aid the points made by my noble friends, Lord Renfrew and Lady Young. They made the points very clearly that I wanted to make. If Amendment No. 11 is accepted we will have built in the specific interest of recognising that there are institutions of a denominational character other than secular schools. I might also say to the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, who made the point about recognising the history of education in this country and the part played in it by the Churches, that I remember studying the subject for 0-level and I believe also for A-level. I found it to be a fascinating subject. I do not know if it is still studied.

One of the difficulties of putting something as specific as this on the face of the Bill is partly because of the words in the amendment that: Before appointing any member of the agency the Secretary of State shall consult". Implicit in that statement is not just the initial appointments but also all subsequent appointments. For the purposes of this debate I must repeat the assurances I gave earlier. The difficulty of putting something on the face of the Bill means that we will have to go a long way down the road of considering the Church membership representative rather than the interest of denominational education being recognised by the whole body.

I said that there will be occasions when an ad hoc vacancy occurs when it would be a waste of everyone's time to require consultation with the Churches as the gap in knowledge at any particular time and experience which needed to be filled was of a very different sort. I said I was afraid that limiting the duties to consult to the appointment of members filling a "church" place on the agency is not a possible way forward. As I said earlier, there are no "representative" places on the agency and no group has a claim to them. I said that for those reasons I am resisting the amendment in this case and added that, however, I should like publicly to reassure and place on record our intention to consult the Churches both about initial appointments and any future appointments in which the Churches might be thought to have a legitimate interest.

I can say to the right reverend Prelate, treading a thin line between representative in membership and the interests of the Churches or the interests of denominational education being accepted, that if there were a vacancy or vacancies on that body which meant that the interest or expertise that could be brought to bear in protecting the interests of denominational education were at issue, then that is an occasion when consultation would be highly appropriate. I hope that the right reverend Prelate will read my words and consider whether he feels so strongly that he wishes to bring the matter back at the next stage.

With regard to the points made by noble friends on providers of education, when I addressed that point initially when speaking to the amendment I said that I thought there was no reason for concern because we had made the distinction between providers of education and teachers. I went on to say that it is teachers who provide education in schools for all our pupils and lecturers and supervisors who provide higher education. I am persuaded and attracted by the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and my noble friends behind me that if a way can be found to make it more explicit that the first provider of education referred to subsumes teaching as well, then I will look for ways of addressing the matter before Third Reading. It is an important point.

I conclude by reminding the House, subsuming my own amendments that are to be accepted today, that we are talking about providers of education in schools. I made the caveat that I will look again to make sure that that explicitly addresses teaching. That includes the training of teachers, or the provision of higher education other than the training of teachers; and some members shown to have experience of, and to have shown capacity in any position carrying responsibility for such matters. The people involved in the provision of education other than teaching will be industrialists, commercial and financial people, people from other professions, the institutions of a denominational character and persons providing for those with special educational needs. 'Those are all interests which will be taken into account when my right honourable friend makes appointments to this body.

Lord Judd

My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down perhaps I can say that I am grateful for her positive reply. However, perhaps she can make clear —it may be my hearing—that in her list of people she has not forgotten local authorities.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I was reading out categories. Local authorities, if they were to come in anywhere, would be among those who have held and shown capacity in any position carrying the responsibility for such matters—such matters being the provision of education.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 5 to 8 not moved.]

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham)

My Lords, I should point out that if Amendment No. 9 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 10.

[Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 11: Page 2, line 13, at end insert: ("( ) In considering the appointment of members in accordance with subsection (2) the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability of including persons whose relevant experience or responsibility is, or was, in or in relation to—

  1. (a)institutions of a denominational character, or
  2. (b)the provision of education for persons with special educational needs.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 12 not moved.]

Schedule 1 [The Teacher Training Agency]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 13: Page 16, line 13, at end insert: (" —(1) Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England, or a representative of his, shall be entitled to attend and take part in any deliberations (but not in decisions) at meetings of the agency or of any committee of the agency. (2) The agency shall provide Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England with such copies of any documents distributed to members of the agency or of any such committee as he may require.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 14. Both amendments deal with different aspects of the workings of the teacher training agency 'which were discussed in Committee.

Amendment No. 13 requires the agency to grant access to a representative of Ofsted to meetings of the agency and to any papers that Ofsted may require. As I said in Committee, it is essential that there be a close working relationship between Ofsted and the teacher training agency. The two bodies have complementary roles to play in ensuring that standards in initial teacher training are maintained and improved. Because of the closeness of that relationship, I believe it right that this should be written on to the face of the Bill to ensure the free flow of information between the two bodies.

Amendment No. 14 requires the agency to provide the Secretary of State with an annual report, which he will lay before Parliament. It was always our intention that the agency should publish a full range of information relating to its activities, including an annual report. This is essential to ensure that the agency follows the principles of openness and accountability.

Given the agency's distinctive role, and the interest which Parliament and the wider public wi II take in its activities, I am happy to bring forward this amendment which puts on the face of the Bill a requirement to produce an annual report. I beg to move.

Lord Judd

My Lords, I should like to say very sincerely from these Benches that we are very grateful for the way in which the Minister has responded to our points. We think it is a wise measure. We are glad to see it there. Thank you.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 14: Page 17, line 3, at end insert: ("Annual reports The agency—

  1. (a)shall make an annual report to the Secretary of State, who shall lay a copy of it before each house of Parliament; and
  2. (b)may arrange for any such report to be published in such manner as the agency consider appropriate.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Qualifying activities and eligible institutions]:

Lord Judd moved Amendment No. 15: Page 2, line 37, after ("teacher") insert ("education and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Baroness will remember that at a late hour during the Committee stage we had quite an altercation about education and training. I was holding very firmly to the thesis that, while training could be part of a wider approach to education, it was impossible to confine the concept of education to being part of training. I was very glad today to hear the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, who I am afraid is no longer in his place, making my point with the eloquence we have come to expect of him. He said that in his experience in any professional training there are two elements: the academic element and the practical element. But what I found important was that he said "in any preparation for a professional career". Sometimes there is a tendency to confuse the issue of insisting upon people of graduate level coming into the profession and the educational content of the preparation for becoming a teacher as such. They are not exactly the same because there is an academic dimension to the specific task of preparing one's self for the responsibility of teaching.

The Minister said in Committee that teacher training is already a term used in legislation and that it has been so used since 1944. In a sense, that is absolutely correct. However, if one is making that observation it is important to remember that when the term "teacher training" was coined it carried with it the assumption that history and research which are supportive of training were part of that teacher training. What we are so concerned about in our deliberations on the Bill is that they are now being separated out. Therefore, it seems a good time to make the point about the importance of education as well as training in the preparation of our teachers. In fact, if the Minister reads Hansard carefully—I hope she will forgive my making the point—she will see that she herself used the term "teacher education and training" during our Committee stage deliberations.

The purpose of the amendment is to make clear that education and training are complementary activities. It will be vital for the teacher training agency to define the twin strands of education and training for any school which is to provide such courses. Teachers involved in school centred initial teacher training may not, for example, be aware of the immense variety of approaches, nor of the most pertinent and relevant research, which provide the background for the practical skills of pedagogy, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, so rightly drew our attention at earlier stages of the Bill.

The term "teacher education" will spell out the essential perspective that is needed to put what I might call the practical tips for teachers, for which there is a vital need, in context. I really believe that this would strengthen the Government's case. It is not my role to act as a consultant for the Government but I believe that it would help tremendously to reassure everyone if the noble Baroness could find a way to accept what is a small but significant amendment in terms of the whole quality of approach to teacher preparation. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, the addition of "teacher education" in front of teacher training, as Amendment No. 15 would secure, is unhelpful and potentially damaging. We cannot split funding responsibility on the basis of the current employment of individual students who turn up to take the course—leaving the agency with the power to fund those students on M. Ed courses who are teachers, but not those who are otherwise employed. We need to divide course types in a sensible way, looking at the general picture of students catered for, as well as course content. That means we need wide enough powers for the agency to fund courses which would not pass the legal test of being "teacher training" or even "teacher education"—even though nine times out of 10, that is what they are.

Since the addition of the word "education" to Clause 4 does not have this effect, would it have any purpose at all? I am not convinced that it adds anything of substance to the Bill, and for that reason I ask the House to reject the amendment.

Lord Judd

My Lords, I am very sad at the Minister's response. I am afraid that the more I listened to her the more I realised that it is not just a difference of nuance but that there really is a narrow view. I do not believe it is the Minister herself but I am not quite sure to whom she is being loyal or whom she is interpreting. The message now coming across is that there is almost a determination in the department to reject the concept of well educated teachers being what we want to see and education being the context in which we approach training. I am very sad indeed, but because I have a great deal of respect for the Minister's independence of mind and her willingness to look carefully at suggestions that are put forward, I shall, with the leave of the House, withdraw the amendment in the hope that she will be able to come back at Third Reading with something to meet the point. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 16: Page 2, line 38, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness both for what she said about this amendment in Committee and for the letter which she has since written to me. I understand that the door is not locked, but in pushing on an open door I do not know whether it opens inwards or outwards and I do not know whether there is someone pushing on the other side. It therefore behoves me to walk warily.

The difficulty is that we have here a collection of objectives which are good ones but which are ultimately incompatible with each other. We are concerned that a great deal both of teaching and research in departments of education has nothing to do with initial teacher training and therefore would not necessarily go competently with the agency. We are concerned about keeping together the seamless robe of higher education. That is not just a figure of speech because we have questions about comparability, about library facilities and about compatible or incompatible systems of funding.

Perfectly properly, we are concerned with preserving the unity of the funding category, which is obviously a good thing if it can be done. We are also concerned, in the words used by the noble Baroness in Committee, with not isolating teacher training from other educational provision. The difficulty about that last objective, good though it is, is that it is inevitably to some extent threatened by putting initial teacher training in schools. I do not think that we can avoid that by keeping together research and the initial teacher training if it involves wrenching out the research from the context in which it works and transplanting it into soil in which it will not grow.

I agree that there needs to be communication between education and initial teacher training. We tried to address that in Amendment No. 3. The noble Baroness felt that that amendment was unduly prescriptive. But I was encouraged to hear her say that it was by no means impossible that the Secretary of State might wish to have overlapping membership between the two funding councils. That seems to me to be the way in which the noble Baroness's objective, as she addressed it in Committee, could be most usefully pursued.

Perhaps I may speak a little further to those four objectives, all of them good but not ultimately compatible. A great deal of the research in education clearly has nothing whatever to do with initial teacher training. For example, let us consider someone who wants to do a PhD on Rousseau's Emile. That is a perfectly proper subject of academic study. But I do not believe that the noble Baroness would recommend Rousseau for a guide to initial teacher training.

There is a great deal of research which people might wish to do studying the way in which education in the 20th century has been the last refuge of belief in the perfectibility of man. But that again is not particularly suited to initial teacher training. The teacher training agency simply would not have the information; it would not have the context for judging either research or the provision of lectures or tutorials in that field. But that is the sort of thing which departments of education ought to be doing.

There is also the question of research not in higher education but on higher education. That is part of educational research which is not by any means going to be adequately addressed by the teacher training agency. In fact, as I understand it, in the research budget of university departments of education, only 8 per cent. of the research is currently relevant to initial teacher training. That is why I do not believe that the teacher training agency will necessarily be the most competent body to deal with it.

There are of course other cases where research which may be vital to education needs the assistance of another department; for example, scientific research on the basis of memory. I agree that that is something which teacher training needs, but it is something which may need also the services of perhaps a geneticist or a psychologist. It is the sort of research which belongs inside a university context. Where it is done jointly by people on different funding systems, with different priorities and different instructions, there must be at least the possibility of confusion.

Another example is religious education, which regularly concerns this House. Were there to be work done on improving the teaching of religious education, it would make sense to have that in the same place as departments of theology, of Jewish studies and of oriental studies. That is something again which, relevant though it may be to the teacher training agency, goes way beyond its remit and could not be very easily handled competently by the agency.

I do not know whether the phrase "blue skies" research is appropriate in fact to anything in education. I sometimes suspect not. But it was research in the departments of education at Oxford and Sussex which gave the Department for Education the idea for this Bill. If that had been going on along ordinary bureaucratic lines, I do not believe that it would have happened.

So what do we do about all these incompatible objectives? I do not believe that we can take the whole of the higher education system in departments of education and give it to the teacher training agency. I understand the case for not splitting up the academic subject category. It seems to me that the most sensible way out of this dilemma is the one suggested in the amendment to be moved next by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy. I have not supported that before because I was still hoping that we would get the teacher training agency out of the Bill altogether. I do not believe that the noble Baroness is under any illusions about my views on that subject. But since it is in the Bill, the interlocking between research and the teacher training agency would be best. addressed along the route that the noble Lord and the noble Baroness are about to put forward. It is vital in educational research, and especially in research relevant. to initial teacher training, that there should be plurality in this matter.

That is also perhaps vital to some of those who fund research. My noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby, who is unfortunately unable to be here today, has asked me to report that she is a board member of the Rand European Advisory Council and the US-based Educational Research Center. She has asked me to tell the House, as I understand she has already told the noble Baroness, that both these institutions, which have the highest respect for British educational research, would be a good deal more reluctant to commission research under the teacher training agency which they would see as being directly government patronised. Although the noble Baroness may say that they are wrong about that, in this kind of thing a perception is a fact. Whatever that would do to our educational research, it would certainly be bad for our balance of payments. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Skidelsky

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Earl for what he has said about our amendment. I very much appreciated the eloquent way in which he put forward his own arguments, which I entirely endorse. The purpose of our amendment is not to abolish Clause 4(2) but to amend it. As it stands, it is much too wide in scope. It gives the teacher training agency functions which go well beyond its responsibilities for providing initial teacher training. Above all, it uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

There is wide agreement that there is a problem which paragraph (b) tries to address. That problem is that the teacher training agency needs good research in order to underpin its funding decisions, but there is no guarantee that research spontaneously generated in the universities will meet those requirements. Different. research agendas are pursued by different researchers. The answer is not for the teacher training agency to take control of all educational research but to give the power to the teacher training agency to commission the research that it needs to underpin its responsibilities. That is the whole purpose of the amendment.

There is no need for the teacher training agency to have anything at all to do with other kinds of educational research or with courses in education which are not intended to lead to qualified teacher status. University courses in education include academic studies in education which are part of modular humanities or social science degrees, courses in the management and organisation of education, courses in sports science, teaching English as a foreign language, distance learning and so on. Most of those have, at best, only an indirect and tenuous connection with initial teacher training. Similarly, I may wish to do research into an aspect of the history or philosophy or even the anthropology of education. What on earth should the teacher training agency have to do with that? It is not relevant to initial teacher training yet, as presently drafted, Clause 4(2) gives the teacher training agency responsibility for funding all those educational studies, irrespective of their relevance to teacher education.

We ask, therefore, that the present funding system in respect of academic subject category 11.2—that is, the non-initial teacher training part of education in the universities—should be left undisturbed, with the single exception which our amendment allows: that is, the power of the teacher training agency to commission research into initial teacher training which it wants to have done.

I am grateful to the noble Earl for accepting that our amendment is the most sensible way forward in order to secure that most of the valid activities in education research remain undisturbed and subject to the present funding arrangements, with this particular exception. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will accept the logic of what we are saying and bring forward an appropriate amendment at Third Reading.

Lord Dainton

My Lords, I want to do no more than reinforce what has been said by the two preceding speakers. Indeed, I could not possibly match the flights of eloquence of the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I should like to say simply that I regard the teacher training agency as a body established with work to do. Like any such body, it needs to have access to research and it needs to commission research. It is in the position of being a customer for it, but the contractors may be found almost anywhere. In the light of what has been said and from my own experience, I think most of those contractors will be found within the universities. The advantage of removing from the teacher training agency the aspects referred to in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, is that there is then a linkage of basic and strategic research—not that directly commissioned by the teacher training agency—with the other disciplines which are so relevant, to which the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, referred. Many others can be added, such as physiology, child psychology, linguistics and philosophy. The list is long.

The other point that I should like to make is that the people there have the resources to carry out the work. I would therefore add my voice to the suggestion that the amendment which stands in the names of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, myself and others might be replaced by that which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky.

The noble Lord, Lord Walton, referred to an article in today's Independent. As he was speaking, I got hold of a copy of it. It is interesting to note that only today Michael McCrum, the former headmaster of Eton and chairman of the Independent Schools Joint Council, states succinctly: The teaching profession needs to benefit from fundamental research in education, and the minister responsible needs to hear impartial advice based on that research". That is what we all want to see established. I do not think that it can be provided by having the driving force in the selection of research projects and so forth exclusively in the hands of the teacher training agency. Therefore, I support Amendment No. 17.

Lord Walton of Detchant

My Lords, I too very much welcome Amendment No. 17. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals pointed out that in the 1992 research assessment exercise, 12 of the 86 education units in our institutions of higher education were rated "five", indicating that the quality of their research was of high international standard. The range of that educational research is huge. Only 8 per cent. of it is directly relevant to teacher education and training. It would, I think, have been a mistake to have left the Bill as it stood originally, which would have had the effect of separating educational research from the mainstream of research in all other fields of higher education.

I should like briefly to give a medical analogy because I am a former teacher of medical students and of postgraduates in medicine. I was absolutely convinced that the results of research and research techniques nourished and enlivened teaching. I often said that today's discovery in basic medical science brings tomorrow's practical development in patient care.

Of very great significance, I believe, in pursuing the aim that we all have of improving the quality, standing and status of teachers in our society is the fact that the inspirational example of teachers who have been nurtured in a research setting and atmosphere and who have been trained in research techniques is something which is likely to improve recruitment, particularly in the areas in which we are short of specialist teachers at the moment, such as science and modern languages.

Finally, postgraduate education is crucial. Last week, I had the privilege of attending degree day at the Institute of Education at the University of London. I was greatly impressed by the very wide range of advanced diplomas and masters degree courses in such topics as the assessment and development of reading, child development, special educational needs, computing and educational technology, music, counselling, art and design, religious education, languages, science education and many more. Those courses were based upon research. The role of research in teacher training in those and many other courses is paramount, while for doctorates it is fundamental. That part of research must surely stay with the higher education funding council. Nevertheless, the amendment which has been proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, seems absolutely right. I hope very much that the House will accept it.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, having listened to four very distinguished academics talking about this subject, I wonder whether I might say a word as a lay person who does not pretend to understand all the interlinking processes that go on when higher education funding is being discussed in the funding council or elsewhere. However, as a lay person, I regard Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 as a very important pair of amendments. They are linked, but they deal with two subjects. I am not sure whether that has become clear in the discussion. They are about the extent of funding the teaching which the agency needs to fulfil its main function of initial teacher training. They are also about the amount of research that the agency will need to be able to bring about if it is to be able to fulfil its function.

If the agency is to do its job properly, it seems to me that the allocation of responsibilities between the new agency, the higher education funding council and the higher education institutions must be such that the new arrangements operate smoothly and effectively. It is clearly crucial to avoid damaging and wasteful duplication or fragmentation of higher education teaching or, indeed, of research. It is important to do as we are in the amendment so far doing—to look objectively, and, if possible, not to confuse the desirability, or otherwise, of having a teacher training agency at all. I believe that we are succeeding in doing that, arid that should be helpful to my noble friend the Minister.

The nub of the question was raised by amendments discussed in Committee, at col. 1645 of Hansard of 10th March. I was sorry that because I had to catch an overnight sleeper I could not take part in that discussion. I regard the amendment as important. My noble friend undertook, as has been said, to reflect upon the matter. She has since written to interested noble Lords to say that she remains open minded on Clause 4 (1) (b) and will be glad to listen to further discussion. That discussion we are now having. I am sure that my noble friend is wise to take time to look at the issue.

Viewed objectively, the complicated balance of advantage and disadvantage in the Bill's approach in Clause 4, compared with the alternative suggested by the amendment, is complex and not altogether easy to assess. The Bill makes what, on the face of it, looks a clear cut and tidy proposition; that the funding of the whole of what the Higher Education Funding Council for England has grouped as academic subject category 11.2 should be transferred from the funding council to the new agency, and the council's related research assessment with it. The trouble is that the area of initial teacher training forms one section only of academic subject category 11. In the other sections, there are, as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, indicated, all sorts of teaching subject areas, some of which form part of courses which do not lead to an initial teacher training qualification, and others which have very little or nothing to do with initial teacher training.

Likewise, the linked research assessment exercise is spread across all those areas. That means that under the Bill as it stands the new agency would find itself involved in complicated negotiations about funding courses which have little to do with its main function, and in funding parts of courses which are paid for jointly by higher education institutions running, for example, social work or humanities degree courses. Since initial teacher training is the main responsibility of the agency and is identifiable in one distinct part of the HEFC's academic subject category, surely it would be simpler by far, for that reason if for no other, to limit the responsibility of the agency to initial teacher training and the commissioning of related research as indicated by Amendment No. 17.

The Government could identify with the funding council's help the funding required for initial teacher training and transfer that to the agency. As to research, the Secretary of State already commissions research, I understand, from his own budget. That money could be transferred to the agency. It seems a simpler approach. It may have flaws which worry my noble friend. I can understand that, but I believe the alternative in the Bill has greater flaws. The balance of the argument may well be found to be with Amendment No. 17 on purely objective grounds, and as seen by lay persons. So I hope that my noble friend will look carefully at that.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

My Lords, I believe that there is general agreement in the House that what we are all seeking is high quality research in the field of education. There is no doubt that that is what every noble Lord who has spoken wants to see. There is no doubt also that we all want high quality initial teacher training. That is an extremely important aim of the Bill. We have all signed up to the importance of the way in which teachers are trained and for the quality of what happens in schools.

The issue in question in the clause arid the two amendments is how the funding arrangements for research and initial teacher training can best further the high quality of research and initial training. If the Bill remains unamended, then all the funding of research relating to education would be transferred to the new agency. Although a substantial minority of educational research is not related to practice in schools and not relevant to what happens in schools, to what teachers are doing day by day, and to what the administrators are doing day by day, nevertheless the vast majority of educational research, quite rightly, bears upon the quality of what happens in schools. It is helpful and right that that should be so. There is therefore a strong argument for putting together the places where the funding of the training and the funding for the research are to be found.

One part of my heart is very much with the Bill as it stands and the wish to see the teacher training agency take over responsibility for the funding of research so that the research can inform and enhance the quality of initial training. My fear is that initial training will become divorced from academic excellence and academic bite. If that happens, we shall have made initial training worse and not better. Therefore I am inclined to feel, although I wholly support Amendment No. 17, that the agency must have the right directly to commission research. My inclination also—it is a finely balanced argument—is to leave the agency with the ability to develop its own expertise in knowing where good educational research is to be found and bringing it close together with the training.

The fear, of course, of doing that and leaving the Bill as it stands is that we could, in a different way, by cutting the seamless robe at the research point as well, diminish the quality of the research that is done; make it somehow less than it was before; and take it away from the academic mainstream and put it only with initial training. We need to examine the issue not, as we have been inclined to do so far, at the national level and on the basis of agencies co-operating with one another —the HEFC co-operating with the TTA and so on—but at the institutional level. We should concentrate on the departments where teachers are trained and ask whether being able to gain their funding from the same single agency gives power to the quality of what those departments do or whether it might not be better, within the structure of higher education, to allow the research to remain in the mainstream of the HEFC's remit so that it can be spread across the whole of higher education.

I believe that the arguments are finely balanced. They do not divide along party lines. On balance, I am inclined to try to give the TTA the maximum power to develop its own academic base and bite. If that can be achieved by leaving the research funding for area 11.2 with it, then so be it.

Baroness Warnock

My Lords, I support Amendment No. 17. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, for putting the case so clearly, as I believe she did. She showed that there is a fine balance in this regard. However, it seems to me to be clear and helpful to put side by side the two functions of the new agency.

If Amendment No. 17 gained favour, the agency would have the great advantage of being able to use the enormous amount of research that is currently taking place where teachers practising in schools and universities are working together. The possibility of commissioning such research would be an extremely important advantage for the new agency.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, I had the pleasure of being at the London institute last week. I spoke to Dr. Peter Mortimore, who has just embarked on an enormously ambitious collection of research exercises which, interestingly enough, is based both on Glasgow and South of the Border—in particular, in London schools. I believe that the findings of such research will improve schools and also the training of teachers. If you know what is needed to make a good school, you know what is needed for the training of teachers who will teach in those schools. I believe that mixed research which is taken on by teachers under the guidance of an extremely experienced research team of a university would be just the kind of work which the new teacher training agency could helpfully commission.

Much of that research is taking place at present. If we accept Amendment No. 17 we shall not waste all that good work which is taking place jointly between schools and higher education institutions. That is why I support Amendment No. 17.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I support Amendments Nos. 16 and 17. I wish to make only one point that was called to mind by the communication via the noble Earl, Lord Russell, from the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, about the credibility of some kinds of research that appear to be funded directly by an agency which is thought of as an arm of government for particular and perfectly respectable purposes.

I say that because, in the widest sense, educational research almost inevitably involves conclusions about policy. Those conclusions are likely to be highly controversial. The example that I give was the remark made by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox—and I am sorry she is not in her place—when she reminded us of the rather distressing statistic (I never remember figures) that up to 20 per cent. of young adults have difficulties with literacy or numeracy. She used that as an argument to show how ineffective teacher training must have been hitherto.

It called to my mind a statistic that was very close to that on the proportion of young adults in that position arrived at by a commission of inquiry in France three or four years ago. Therefore, that statistic cannot be attributed wholly to our own failings because it is a matter of international significance and scale. The United States, or some states there, can certainly provide similar statistics. Such matters need to be investigated before we can be clear about our path forward in education. It seems to me that it will have greater credibility if it is investigated in independent institutions of higher education.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn

My Lords, in many ways I am surprised that this matter does not seem clearer to some of your Lordships. The Government and the Bill propose the establishment of a teacher training agency whose primary concern will be teacher training. We shall still have a Higher Education Funding Council whose primary concern will be higher education.

Normally the conduct of research falls clearly within the scope of higher education. As Amendment No. 17 suggests, and as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, conceded when moving Amendment No. 16, it makes perfect sense for the teacher training agency sometimes to fund research into teacher training, in particular initial teacher training. But to start thinking of the whole field of educational research as the province of a teacher training agency seems to me quite absurd.

Moreover, it pains me to suggest that my noble friend may have found herself to be inconsistent, but only a few moments ago in relation to Amendment No. 15 she argued with great eloquence that it would be inappropriate for the provision of teacher education and training to qualify for funding under this part. She objected to the words "education and" in response to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and she wished to restrict the matter to the provision of teacher training.

If you are not willing to put money into the provision of teacher education and training, how bizarre it is to wish to put money into the provision of research into that broader field. That is a complete inconsistency. The case has been elegantly made by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, that research into education goes far beyond the field of teacher training alone; for example, there may well be research into university education or education into other lands, a point that has already been made on the other side of the House.

The teacher training agency will not necessarily have the competence to judge those matters. Who will judge whether or not the money being put towards PhDs is well spent? It is true that the agency can provide funding for people to judge such matters but it is surely the case that the Higher Education Funding Council should have a competence in the area of research but that is no part of the teacher training agency.

With the instrumentalist aim of improving the teacher training agency's policies, it can fund research in the areas which are of specific concern to it. That is suggested in Amendment No. 17. The whole field of educational research in general, which is a very wide field involving higher education, primary education, infant education, growth of children and growth of perception, some of which are theoretical fields, surely goes far beyond the scope of anything that we should consider to he the primary concern of a teacher training agency per se.

Baroness David

My Lords, perhaps I could intervene now because we on these Benches have waited quite a long time. I feel quite nervous speaking among all the distinguished academics who have contributed to the debate but I think the voice of common sense has just come from the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, and I support every word that he said.

It seems to me that the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, gives the best of both worlds. It allows the teacher training agency to ask for research into initial teacher training and it would be commissioned, according to that amendment, by the funding agency, which I think perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, did not say when she spoke. In fact, she seems to be the only one who has not fully supported the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky. But it does seem to me that it strikes the right balance and certainly we on these Benches support him. I hope very much that the Minister has reflected on it and with the strength of feeling in this Chamber tonight will agree to accept the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may, first, ask the noble Baroness to acknowledge the fact that I did say that I agreed with the concept of the agency being able to support research related to teacher training. Further, does the noble Baroness really believe that research which bears upon the quality of what is good education is irrelevant to teacher training? Surely the noble Baroness is not of that view.

7 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, perhaps I may say briefly that, of course, such research must be relevant to teacher education and training. However, I reiterate what my noble friend and many other speakers have said. The real issue is whether it would be right for a teacher training agency to have the responsibility for commissioning and funding research on such a wide range of educational issues. Some of those issues do not have a direct relevance for the provision of initial teacher training and education, although they may well be drawn upon by those who are responsible for providing teacher training and education, That is the distinction that we are discussing so far as concerns the amendment. I very much hope that the Minister will feel able to support the amendment tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky.

Lord Lucas

My Lords, I, too, am in favour of my noble friend's amendment, apart from the inclusion of the word "initial". It seems to me that one of the main symptoms of the failings of the teacher education system at present is that, although it provides the great bulk of initial training, it provides so little of the continuing education which teachers require and for which the noble Lord, Lord Walton, pointed out the need in his report.

Once the teacher training agency is in existence—and if the analogy with the Further Education Funding Council is anything to go by—I would expect the teacher training departments of universities and the: independent colleges quickly to become involved in the continuing education of teachers on a large scale. If that is to be the case, I hope that the ITA will be able to commission research to support that activity as well as the initial training of teachers.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I shall certainly reflect on all that has been said, and especially the remarks just made by my noble friend Lord Lucas. In fact, I could add yet another variation; namely, research relevant to teaching commissioned by the agency. The whole issue highlights a number of questions which have been raised during the debate.

Lord Skidelsky

My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may say a few words on that point. Unfortunately, there is a misprint in the amendment. It should refer to research, commissioned by the teacher training agency", whereas, it actually refers to "the funding agency". I am sorry if that error has misled my noble friend the Minister or, indeed, other Members of the House. We have proceeded on the correct assumption that it is research commissioned by the TTA.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I would not qualify as a proof reader because I had in mind what I believed to be in the amendment rather than the words that are actually there. However, that just adds to the number of reasons why I believe I should take the matter away and reconsider what was said in today's debate and in Committee with a view to reflecting upon the arguments raised.

Those noble Lords to whom I have written will know that I had hoped for a full debate on the important issues in order to see whether the views of noble Lords were closer to consensus than they appeared at the previous stage. We have had a full debate and there seems to be a growing consensus among those who have spoken. I shall certainly reflect fully on what has been said with a view to considering whether amendments to the Bill are necessary in order to meet the views expressed. Essentially at issue, I believe, are points of practicality rather than principle. I also believe that the arguments about non-initial teacher training courses are different from those about research.

My understanding is that the CVCP considers that the division of responsibility for courses now found within academic subject category 11.2 would best be dealt with by administrative rather than legislative means, taking into account advice from the Higher Education Funding Council and following consultation with institutions. I shall also reflect on that aspect.

It may also be for the benefit of Members of the House present in the Chamber this afternoon—although I suspect there are not many—who are not familiar with academic subject category 11.2 if I explained what is involved. It is the category of funding for all education studies other than initial teacher training and research. It ranges from MEds and other higher degrees intended primarily for serving teachers, to education modules within undergraduate humanities degrees for people with no intention of becoming teachers. It also includes sports studies. We are discussing with the HEFCE at present whether to untangle that academic subject category and, if so, how.

That approach would allow courses which are obviously not sensibly linked with the responsibilities of the agency—medical ethics is just one example—to be left with the funding council, while courses like masters degrees in education, which are often taken by serving teachers, are transferred. That is in fact almost exactly what we were always proposing. Officials have been in discussion with the funding council for some time about how to secure a sensible split. But it would not be possible to do what the CVCP has suggested if the only power left to the agency were the funding of "teacher training" and Clause 4(1) (b) were deleted, as suggested in Amendments Nos. 16 and 17.

The arguments about the funding of research seem to me more complex than those about education courses. There is the question of whether a teacher training agency should have responsibility for funding research which does not have any direct relevance to teaching and learning in English schools. Those are very like the arguments about non-initial teacher training courses—some of the research will clearly be highly relevant to the agency's work, some will not. Perhaps the funds could be split in the same way by inspection of current practice.

While I am on that point, I note that Amendment No. 17, tabled in the names of my noble friends Lord Skidelsky and Lady Carnegy, would seek to make explicit the agency's power to fund research which was clearly intended to support its functions. On that point, I can give my noble friends a categorical assurance: the agency already has that power by virtue of its general powers in Schedule 1, and that would not be a necessary addition to the Bill whatever the scope of the agency's powers under Clause 4.

Turning back to the wider issues, there is also the question of accountability for research funds—the wish of higher education institutions to be able to move research funding between categories rather than have any element ring-fenced for education research. Those in education departments may not be so worried about that. As I have said before, the funding "earned" through education research ratings is public knowledge for each institution, so the flows into other disciplines are probably not that great.

On the question of research assessment, I am certainly happy to agree that it would be sensible for the agency to buy into the research assessment exercise run for all the funding councils by the funding council for England. As for the other councils, the split of funding and assessment need not be a problem. The agency might choose to apply the common gradings in a different way, with greater rewards for excellence, for example.

It still seems to me that overall the arguments point to an administrative solution to those questions—which we can adjust in the light of experience—rather than an amendment on the face of the Bill. However, as I said, I shall certainly continue to hold discussions about the right way ahead so that we can reach a conclusion which addresses the important concerns which were raised today and in Committee. With that, I hope that the noble Earl and my noble friend will feel able to withdraw their amendments on the understanding that there will be real discussion between now and Third Reading.

Earl Russell

My Lords, I thank the Minister most warmly for her promise to take the matter away for further consideration. We are a great deal closer to agreement than we were in Committee. I agree that we have not quite got there yet, but it seems to me likely that we will do so with a little more talking. On that basis, I shall agree to withdraw my amendment. However, before doing so, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, who have contributed so much —as, indeed have other speakers—towards finding a point where we can secure a means of settling the matter which is acceptable to all of us.

It is not just higher education as a whole. The noble Baroness suggested that departments of education might be slightly less keen to stay within the existing framework than the rest of universities. That is certainly not true of my own department of education which wrote to me most eloquently to the opposite effect only this morning. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

Lord Judd moved Amendment No. 18: Page 3, leave out lines 6 to 8.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the above amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 19, 20, 21 and 25. These amendments define the vital partnership between schools and higher education. Both sets of institutions have a role and I should emphasise in this context the vital contribution made by special schools catering for special educational needs. The Department for Education recognised in paragraph 2 of its own circular 14/93 that there should be, a greater role for schools, which are best placed to help student teachers develop and apply practical teaching skills; a continuing need for study in higher education institutions of the subject knowledge necessary for sound teaching of the primary curriculum". Our amendments therefore reflect the Department for Education's own definition in its own circular 14/93 and they also underpin the amendments to Clauses 11 and 13 carried by the Chamber in Committee.

I now turn to Amendment No. 25. Following the debate at Committee on Clause 11, schools will be allowed to provide courses in partnership with higher education institutions. This amendment removes the provisions for the teacher training agency to establish and maintain, an appropriate balance between school-centred courses and other courses". Also it removes the ability for schools to conduct independent fund raising, including charging students additional fees on top of those defined by the teacher training agency. As it reads, Clause 6 encourages the teacher training agency to introduce school centred courses by suggesting there must be a balance and that to promote such courses is desirable. What, of course, any teacher training agency should be doing is to ensure that every course has an appropriate balance of input from schools and higher education institutions. Again, in arguing this I emphasise that the Department for Education itself recognised the essential involvement of higher education for initial teacher training—as it was then called—in circular 14/93.

Before I finish speaking to these amendments I hope I may quote from some authorities which have not so far been conspicuous in our deliberations. We have talked a lot about the experience of people in higher education and in other relevant areas of our national life. However, I think it is good to turn to the views of students themselves as they respond to their preparation. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has commissioned some interesting research in Warwick University which was undertaken by Linda Evans and Ian Abbott. In looking at the research, I am intrigued to find that among those students questioned who were enrolled either in schemes which involved a partnership with higher education or in schemes administered by schools, the number who more or less agreed with the principle of the involvement of higher education ranged between 87 per cent. and 100 per cent. It may be helpful if I refer briefly to the comments of some of those students. Among those giving an unqualified "yes" to the involvement of higher education, some interviewees focused on practical issues such as the availability of resources. One said: Yes, definitely, so teachers have a wealth of research information to draw from. Access to library and computing facilities … Better preparation before an actual teaching role. You have a home". Another student said: Yes, higher education institutions have resources, i.e. a wide range of personnel with different skills, who can be timetabled An environment which is designed to teach us rather than one whose priority is school teaching. Has resources to compile more in-depth courses". Another student said: Yes. Teacher training raises ability, skills and knowledge through application of techniques in practice, thus coping better. Higher education helps to cross many levels through to college—also helps older students feel at ease—raises levels of expectation". I refer to two other quotations which I believe are relevant to this part of our deliberations but also to other matters we have discussed this evening. One student said: I think that in the first place the teacher should have a strong academic background: broad information—general education, as well as sound specific specialisation (if applicable) before presenting before a class, at any level. Professionalism can only be gained through education". There are many other such comments that I could quote but I shall share one final quotation with: your Lordships this evening. Another student stated: Higher education can offer a broader base to teacher training, including teaching/learning philosophies and approaches. As students go into a variety of schools and can then compare experiences, such a scheme broadens the outlook of the trainee. Having a higher education element to a PGCE also maintains professionalism and the status of the teacher in society, compared with professional training for law and accountancy". Those remarks reflect how students view their experiences. It is because we feel that that is a pertinent set of observations and because we feel that these amendments are designed to strengthen the partnership which we think is essential that we put them forward. I beg to move.

Earl Russell

My Lords, we on these Benches strongly support these amendments but I will not stand between the House and its dinner by saying so at any length.

7.15 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I say at the outset to the noble Lord, Lord Judd, that I have no dispute at all with what he has just said in quoting the perceptions of students. But why should we be so mean as to cut off the other students who have chosen of their own volition to undertake school centred training? Why should we cut off schools and consortia of schools that have chosen of their own volition to provide those courses'? The noble Lord may have found one group of satisfied students but it is our wish that all students should be satisfied. I throw out an open invitation to the noble Lord. I am prepared to accompany him, if he wishes, to a course of school centred teacher training and let us both talk to students on that course. That will address all the gaps in such training that the noble Lord has hinted at.

The noble Lord referred to circular 14/93. The study of subjects in higher education as required in that circular is fully covered and fully secured by the requirement that those entering school provided courses are graduates, as the Bill secures.

Amendments Nos. 18 to 21 would limit the agency to funding schools only where they were in partnership with a higher education institution. The real purpose of the amendments is clear from Amendment No. 25, which takes away the duty of the agency to set a balance between school-centred and other courses. There would be no need for such a balance in the noble Lord's approach because he does not want there to be any genuinely school-centred training. There may be an effective and willing group of schools, and there may be Ofsted evidence about how well those schools could provide training, but still the noble Lord would block their way.

Schools which want to work in partnership with higher education have the power to involve themselves in school-based courses. The reform of courses to require genuine working with schools—higher education not just placing students in a passive school, but involving serving teachers in their training and assessment—has been widely welcomed. All secondary courses should be operating on such a model by this September. Noble Lords opposite appear to believe that as this model works we should make no further changes. But the Government wish to build upon that success and widen the training models. It is often schools which have worked in the most effective partnerships that have the confidence and the will to play a leading role. We do not want to stop them from doing so.

These schools will be training students who have already graduated from courses validated by higher education. It is as well to remember that there will be that important safeguard. Quite apart from anything else, it means that students will themselves be well placed to judge whether a course run by schools without higher education validation is the right course for them; and the way is clear for schools that wish to seek higher education validation. We do, however, want them to have the choice, subject to the vital point that accreditation by the teacher training agency and inspection under arrangements made by Ofsted, will be ensuring common standards.

So we are happy to allow schools the freedom to choose whether or not they work with higher education partners. Noble Lords opposite must fear—for what reason I do not know, for there is no evidence I am aware of—that large numbers of schools would choose to go it alone, without any involvement of higher education. and that higher education would therefore be marginalised in teacher training. That is the only reason that I can think of for making it a requirement in law that higher education should have the whip hand. If they believe—as we have heard—that schools do not want to be diverted from their main business and that all representative bodies for teachers and schools are strongly in favour of higher education involvement, then what is there to fear?

I can imagine the riposte: what have we to fear from requiring higher education involvement if it is likely in any event? It is those who want to stifle choice, not those who want to widen it, who must bear the burden of argument. What incentive will there be on higher education to be accommodating to schools and to play a supportive role when schools have no option but to work with them? If those in higher education are to be the sole gatekeepers they will be able to make the rules of involvement to suit themselves. There will be no safety valve for a group of schools which wants to take a different approach.

It has been suggested that we are inconsistent in allowing schools to run courses without higher education involvement but through the criteria not allowing higher education to offer courses except in partnership with schools. I do not think that anyone really believes that higher education institutions could prepare teachers for their professional role without close involvement with schools. Nor do we believe, as I have said a number of times in previous debates, that it is possible to have a competent teacher with no experience of higher education. But I believe that some groups of good schools are well able to offer a fourth, professional training year, building on three years' previous higher education without necessarily drawing on a higher education institution for help.

In Amendment No. 25, which removes schools' power to attract private funding or to charge fees, the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has mistaken one of the intended effects of that amendment. I have to tell him that it does not remove the power of schools to attract funds or to charge fees; nor could schools provide initial teacher training without charging fees exactly as higher education institutions do.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, spoke about the views of students. Students will be free to apply for courses based on their own priorities. The current school-centred courses are oversubscribed. Indeed, at this moment there are students clamouring for courses. When I first met graduates attending school-centred courses I asked each of them why they did not apply to a higher education institution. In many cases they had applied to a higher education institution and then decided to set that place aside in favour of a school-centred teacher training course because it better met their own priorities. Therefore, I believe that if the noble Lord will accept my invitation it might be a fruitful sojourn for both of us to make between now and Third Reading.

The amendments are a sign of the noble Lord's lack of trust in Ofsted, in schools and in the agency's ability to meet its remit. It is those bodies and their procedures which will ensure quality whenever courses are provided. I fear that the noble Lord simply wants to return us to the monopoly provision by higher education with no scope for those schools which want to play a role and offer a little competition on equal terms.

Lord Judd

My Lords, I should be delighted to accompany the Minister on the mission she suggests. I look forward to that.

The quotations I gave were taken from students who were attending school courses as well as from those on courses in partnership with higher education. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 19 to 21 not moved.]

Viscount St. Davids

My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned. In doing so I suggest that the Report stage begins again at 8.25 p.m.

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