HL Deb 11 January 2005 vol 668 cc212-46

House again in Committee on Clause 2.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

Baroness Walmsley

moved Amendment No. 10: Page 2, line 21, at end insert ", and ( ) the contribution made by those schools to work ing with the children's services authority and the authority's relevant partners to improve the well-being of children, and relevant young people, within the authority's area The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 10,1 shall speak also to Amendment No. 29, which in the same group. We again pick up the Children Act agenda. We are really asking the Government to spell out more clearly how they see the integration of Ofsted and the CSCI.

Under the Children Act 2004, a range of agencies have a duty to co-operate with each other to improve the well-being of children in the area. In the absence of a specific statutory duty on schools to co-operate, it is essential that their contribution to working with other agencies is properly evaluated. I think we all accept that.

The revised Ofsted framework attempts to integrate the outcomes for children under Every Child Matters. But it is very difficult to see how inspectors will be able properly to assess an individual school's positive contribution to a child's health, safety, enjoyment, achievement and well-being, let alone how the school will function within the wider multi-agency context that we are about to see of the children's services authority.

Historically, Ofsted, through its reliance on performance data to inform judgments, concentrates on that which is easily measurable. That is perfectly understandable. But fundamental questions, such as the happiness, the well-being and engagement of individual pupils within a school, are not so easily answered by a snapshot approach and are more likely to be accurately determined by ongoing monitoring and evaluation; in particular, that done by the school's own self-evaluation work.

As many noble Lords said at Second Reading, including those on these Benches, the Bill makes reference to LEAs rather than to the children's services authority. Under the Bill's provisions, LEAs are increasingly sidelined in the view of some noble Lords, and the children's services authority so far does not exist. So it is difficult to see who will be responsible for encouraging individual schools to co-operate with other frontline services, as they must do if the objectives of the Children Act are to be achieved.

It is clear that any attempt to marry the current school inspection schedule with the Every Child Matters indicators is fraught with difficulties as the two have very different starting points, overarching philosophies and purposes. While acknowledging the desire to reflect the Every Child Matters agenda within the Ofsted inspection framework in order to mainstream it, this can only ever be on a superficial level as the much broader and less easily measurable concerns of the former cannot be captured adequately by the snapshot approach of the latter. Noble Lords will see the difficulty.

In isolation, individual teachers and schools will very likely in practice continue to be steered by the national focus on targets and performance tables. The questions that I hope the Minister will be able to answer are these. How do the Government see Ofsted and the CSCI working together? How will the relationship between schools and the CSA and other relevant partners be counted? How will the inspectors judge whether the schools are doing their job in this respect? What does "social and economic well-being" mean here? What if unemployment is high in the area, leading to considerable social deprivation? Do the inspectors judge the schools to have failed because they have not produced young people with transferable skills?

It is all very well running through a list of the five outcomes, but what we need to know is what this means in practical terms and how should this guide Ofsted and the judgment of the Ofsted inspectors.

Finally, how does all this apply to young people? We do not know where the boundaries are. How far does Ofsted's remit extend? Does it extend to young people up to the age of 19 or beyond? Does the integrated agenda apply to the adult learning inspectorate which covers post-19 college level education and training? What about youth services? There are a lot of questions to answer. The Committee stage is the opportunity for us to probe some of these issues. I hope that the Minister will be able to enlighten us a little.

So, in moving Amendment No. 10 and in speaking to Amendment No. 29,1 really seek to probe some of the Government's intentions in this respect. I beg to move.

Lord Filkin

I will not answer every one of the 15 difficult questions before breakfast, but I shall seek to focus on the nub and come back with correspondence on some of them because I think that that will be more helpful.

Let me talk in broad terms because I think that that will be most useful at this stage of our proceedings. We fully recognise the importance of schools, both to improving the well-being of their own pupils and of the children and young people in the wider community. That is why we have recently published Every Child Matters: Change for Children in Schools, which sets out the implications for schools of the Children Act 2004 and the wide programme of change that we are introducing.

As the document says, pupils can't learn if they don't feel safe or if health problems are allowed to create barriers. And doing well in education is the most effective route for young people out of poverty and disaffection… Pupil performance and well-being go hand in hand". Earlier in our proceedings we stated that the well-being objectives are not separate from, in conflict with or irrelevant to the tradition of educational attainment. I think that there is a broad consensus in the Committee on that point. The debate concerns how it is put into practice.

The amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, attempts to include the contribution made by the school to working with the children's services authority and its relevant partners to improve the well-being of children and relevant young people within the authority's areas. That represents a substantial loss of focus away from the school and the work it does for its own pupils. That, we think, has to be the central purpose of the Bill and of the process. How is that school contributing to the well-being of its pupils and seeing that it is important that the well-being should go wider than just the narrow educational attainment, important though that is?

We are fully in agreement with the principle that schools must play an active role within the wider community and cannot work in isolation from one another or from agencies providing services for children and young people and their families.

Perhaps I may illustrate that point. In school inspections Ofsted already explores links with the wider community in several ways. It judges, first, the extent to which the curriculum meets the external needs; secondly, the way in which schools work with other services to guide, care for and support their pupils, and, thirdly, how well resources are managed and the effectiveness of any links with other providers of children's services.

We are looking to schools, over time, to provide a core of extended services, either on site or across a cluster of local schools and providers. An extended schools prospectus to set out the extended schools strategy will be launched shortly. In schools with extended services, which have been included in pilot inspections, inspectors report on how the services were selected to meet the needs of the community and what impact they have on the children's development. The new school profile will include a section where schools write about their contribution to the wider community. We are looking at how best the profile can reflect the extended schools agenda to show the breadth of activity that the school undertakes.

Key aspects of our "new relationship with schools" are currently being trialled. They include the allocation to each school of a school improvement partner (SIP), who will act as a critical friend. The school's engagement with the wider community and its effect on educational outcomes will feature in this single conversation between the SIP and the school. It is a crucial engagement between the local authority and the school as regards the contribution that the school makes.

On inspection, we are introducing joint area reviews, which will draw together for the first time a range of inspection findings determined by a common approach, through an overall framework for inspection of children's services. That overall framework will apply to inspections of schools, supported by a more detailed framework relating specifically to schools. Joint area reviews, which will draw on evidence from school inspections, will then assess what it is like to be a child in a local authority area. That is the exact question that the process should address. They will report on how effectively the local partners work together to improve children's well-being. That will include an assessment of how effectively the schools work together as local partners.

The new arrangements will be introduced from September 2005, so the process will go live very soon. Ofsted and the nine other relevant inspectorates and commissions are consulting on a draft of the framework and on arrangements and criteria for joint area reviews. The consultation period began on 6 December and runs until the end of February.

I shall now address specific points, including how Ofsted will judge children's wider well-being. Inspectors will report on the spiritual, moral, cultural and social

development of pupils as well as the five outcomes, but they will do so hanging off the self-evaluation process mentioned earlier. We will deal with that process in more detail later, because it is fundamental to the Bill.

Ofsted's remit extends up to age 19 and includes youth services. How Ofsted judges well-being is currently being consulted on in the framework for schools. It might be helpful if I sent a copy of the framework to Front-Benchers so that they can appreciate more of its richness. I shall read it myself with interest.

We have talked previously about burdens on schools. I have sought to signal why I do not believe that this process should be more burdensome. Again, the evidence from the pilot so far is extremely positive. In response to the question about how Ofsted and the CSA would work together, they already do so. They will be brought closer together in the children's services framework. If I can add more detail, I will be pleased to do so subsequently rather than now.

Admissions protocols have been touched on obliquely. The issue of hard-to-place pupils coloured some of the debates on the Children Act 2004. On 18 November, Charles Clarke announced a package of guidance on hard-to-place pupils to support local education authorities in developing protocols for sharing such pupils across schools in the LEA fairly. The guidance was based on what is observed as good practice in some LEAs already. It is drawn up as part of a working group of LEAs, head teacher organisations, Churches, foundation and voluntary-aided schools. In other words, it replicates what the best LEAs and the best schools are doing already. We have distributed it as guidance to local authorities. When he announced the protocols, Charles Clarke said that he would be willing to use legislation to impose them if all LEAs did not have them in place by 1 September 2005.

However, we should start from the premise that, if there is a clear argument for why this is good behaviour, and if the case has been made clearly on the basis of good local education authority practice, we should be cautious about legislating too quickly and imposing further burdens top-down on LEAs and schools in this context. We would therefore be well advised to recognise that there has been a good reception by many LEAs to the advice and to the development of protocols, to allow it time and space to breathe and to work, and to evaluate how it develops. That is perhaps the specific answer that hides behind some of the points.

I have probably spoken at greater length than Members of the Committee wished. I shall check in Hansard to see whether I have missed some points and respond with further correspondence if it would be helpful.

Lord Hanningfield

The Minister referred to both LEAs and CSAs—the latter is not a terribly good acronym. The idea is that there will be just one body, a children's services authority (CSA). My own authority is moving that way. I would rather that local government did everything rather than having a lot of confusing acronyms, which people do not always understand.

Can the Minister comment on the time frame? The Government clearly support the Children Act 2004. It brings together a lot of issues that should have been brought together over the years in order to make certain that agencies work together to support families and children. I have local authority experience and I foresee that there will be a problem in resolving some of the issues in this legislation with the earlier legislation. Will the Minister clarify how the Government envisage the LEAs and CSAs coming together into one body with one policy?

8.15 p.m.

Lord Filkin

The noble Lord, Lord Beresford, has taken me to task with great courtesy for demonstrating my old-fashioned language. I shall expunge the word "LEAs" from my vocabulary henceforth. He is right. We are talking about the children's services authority, which is the relevant local authority—that is, the principal local authority rather than the shire district—giving its leadership through the children's trust, and the children's trust mechanism bringing into place all the other key partners who have a responsibility in contributing towards the children's agenda in that area.

The noble Lord is right: that is what is important and radical about the Children Act. At this time of night, he is besting me at answering exactly how that will work out in practice with all the historical functions. But the core message—and a number of people are clear on this matter—is that this is the biggest offer to local government affirming its local community leadership role that there has been for many a long year.

When I had a meagre sandwich lunch with the chief executive of the LGA recently, there was a sense that that was recognised. This is a major opportunity for local government leadership.

I am wandering off the point. The Children Bill affirmed the policy and this Bill co-ordinates it, partly in the way in which it tries to get out of the detail of telling schools and inspectors how to deliver this and judges them instead on the outcomes. In other words, it is a great agenda for local government, and— through the spirit of self-evaluation—it is a positive agenda for schools as well. I have spoken at length. I will reflect on the challenges that the noble Lord, Lord Beresford, has given and see if I can add further comments later.

Baroness Walmsley

Does the Minister wish to speak?

Lord Filkin

I want to apologise for getting names wrong. When I referred to "the noble Lord, Lord Beresford", I meant to address the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield.

Baroness Walmsley

I am grateful to the Minister for the additional information that he has just given us. The information from pilot schemes and the extended schools' prospect us that we expect soon will all be enlightening on how this will work.

Before I withdraw the amendment, I would like to pick the Minister up on one point. Early in his response he suggested that my amendment would prevent schools focusing on their own pupils. I was under the impression that under the new obligations the Government expect schools to have some responsibility for all the children in their area, not only those who choose to come to their schools. For example, there may be facilities that should be made available to other children in the area through partnerships between schools. That is happening more and more. Schools should have some responsibility for children who are not pupils on their register. Can the Minister explain what he meant by that?

Lord Filkin

The noble Baroness is absolutely right. Increasingly, our vision is that schools will recognise that they can add value to what they give to the development of children by working in a co-operative manner with each other. The protocols around admission processes are one specific example, but it goes much wider than that.

As the noble Baroness implied, when considering the concept of extended schools it is implausible that every single school would have all the functions on the school premises that could ideally be placed there. It would not work like that. Therefore a cluster of schools would provide additional facilities that could be shared between them in exactly the way she implied. I apologise if in a sense I have spoken too crudely, but that is precisely the style of behaviour that we believe is necessary. Moreover, the school improvement partner will discuss these issues with the school because such co-operative behaviour best serves the children in the area; a beggar-my-neighbour approach would not.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote

Perhaps I may chip in to point out that there is so much going on in this area that is exciting and even somewhat bewildering. Does the Minister intend that the partnerships should cover not only local authority schools, but also independent schools? I do not think that that has been addressed so far. Given the various articles and other publicity that I have read, a great deal is going on almost via the back door—indeed, in some areas it is being described as the back-door nationalisation of schools. Quite honestly, I think I welcome that. The more partnership we have to improve standards throughout the education system, the better. It would be interesting to hear a little more from the Minister.

Lord Filkin

I am unbriefed on this so I shall make a few observations in principle. As noble Lords would expect, the central thrust of our policy focuses on schools that are effectively either directly part of the state system by being maintained or are at one remove in the form of academies and foundation partnerships. They are the primary focus of this process of change. However, while for most children it is crucial that state-supported education fulfils their needs, it should be recognised that there are private and other forms of schooling. I do not think that we should not look to co-operative relationships between them where they meet the interests of children on both sides. I do not believe that we would wish to be doctrinal. However, this is the reverse of ex cathedra; it is the Minister giving some personal reflections which no doubt will be contradicted by letters later on.

Baroness Walmsley

I thank the Minister for his clarification of my earlier question and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

moved Amendment No. 11: Page 2, line 21, at end insert ", and ( ) the degree to which schools are developing rigorous internal procedures of self evaluation The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 32. It may be useful to refresh our memories. We are still talking about the first subsection of Clause 2 and considering only the functions of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England. So far among those functions we have debated the issue of well-being, how it can be measured and how it ties in with the new agenda set out in the Children Act 2004. I turn now to a slightly different theme, one that has been flagged up in the new relationship for schools outlined in the White Paper that underpins this Bill, and set out in the Government's Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners published last July.

The whole concept of schools being able to move from lengthy inspections to short, sharp ones is being introduced because it is felt that the experience of some 12 years of schools inspection means that, in a sense, schools can move on. Part of that is the notion that they can move on because they now know, or should know, how they are measured. They need to learn, if they have not already done so, how to measure their own performance. Self-evaluation is therefore a vital part of the new agenda.

I am very sympathetic to this development and I think that all noble Lords would say that this is the right way forward. Moving away from the heavy interventionist bureaucracy of Ofsted to lighter touch procedures means that schools will monitor internally their performance and keep themselves up to scratch. All that Ofsted will have to do is ensure that each school has in place proper internal evaluation procedures.

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that schools develop along this route. It would be useful, therefore, to add to the role of inspectors the requirement to look explicitly at the development of self-evaluation procedures. We know that many of our best schools are doing this already, do not need to be told to do it and in fact did not need to be told to do it, which is one of the reasons that we want the light touch.

However, with the best will in the world, there are always those who do not do something unless they are told to do it—those with whom I got very annoyed when I was a university lecturer who always said to me, "Is there something that we need to study for the examination?" In other words, "If we are not examined in it, we are not going to bother to do it". Therefore, if it is not on the list of matters that the inspector is to inspect, will the schools do it? Although the answer ought perhaps to be that we should not have to measure it, it is nevertheless a useful fallback position to have.

That is the reason behind the tabling of this amendment. If this is part of the agenda as we know it, and to which I believe all sides of the Chamber are very sympathetic, arguably it is something that we need to measure as a fallback. Therefore, we suggest that it is added to the issues that the inspector has to consider. I beg to move.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

My name is down to support Amendment No. 32. If I had been better organised, it would also have been down to support Amendment No. 11.

I support very strongly the thrust of the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. It is absolutely crystal clear that if inspections of only one and two days are to work, the schools themselves must have the right kind of self-evaluation procedures, and a large pan. of the inspector's job is to check that those procedures are actually working. I emphasise the words "actually working" because my own experience, not only in my inspectorate days but also in my many years of chairing the Charter Mark Judges' Panel (where very similar kinds of procedures were necessary), is that such self-evaluative procedures can look very impressive without producing any real results at all. It is all too easy, as I have seen in schools and colleges time and again, to generate vast amounts of paper—huge self-evaluation sheets for different departments, individual teachers and even pupils in positions of responsibility, such as prefects, and so on—all of which finally come together in one vast heap on someone's shelf to collect dust without anything else ever being done.

If the inspectors are to check that the procedure is actually working, it is desperately important that they should look for schools that are genuinely self-reflecting, reflecting on their own practices and listening to their clients, whether they be students, parents or local businesses with whom they are working, and making adjustments to their performance and to the way in which they carry out the processes in the light of those matters. At the end of the day there has to be a real output other than piles of self-evaluation forms. I therefore approve absolutely of the wording of the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, in which she refers to, the degree to which schools are developing rigorous internal procedures". Those procedures have to result in action, and I support very strongly what the noble Baroness has said.

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood

I want very briefly to support this amendment, for two reasons. The first is that the philosophy of the inspection system that this Bill encapsulates requires a confidence in the capacity of schools to evaluate themselves. The system will not work unless that is present.

Secondly, the beginning of Clause 2(1) says: The Chief Inspector has the general duty of keeping the Secretary of State informed about", certain school functions.

The Secretary of State needs to know that self-evaluation is working; otherwise, he will have to change the inspection system.

Lord Lucas

It is not difficult for an inspector on a short visit to ascertain whether it is working. If it is going well, everyone will be bubbling about it because it will produce the kind of results that teachers and pupils really appreciate. I can remember that the first time I came across this kind of measure working extremely well was in Greenhead College, Huddersfield, which had a very inspiring principal, now sadly retired. The English department spent hours telling me about the system of numbers that it was using to evaluate the performance of teachers. You do not expect that kind of thing, but because it worked well and because it supported the teachers, a teacher would know if he was doing wrong and could call on the support of his colleagues. They would gather together with him, sort out the problem and he would receive the extra training required to bring him up to scratch. They felt it was enormously supportive.

The pupils knew that they were getting the absolute best from their teachers. You could spot a child going wrong very quickly, you could spot a teacher who was off-beam very quickly, and everything was done to support the child and support the teacher and the whole college was absolutely delighted about it.

Teachers mostly go into teaching for the joy of seeing children succeed. When one of these systems is working well, you can see it and be confident about it. It is not simply a question of waiting for the A-level results and then feeling rather sad about 15 or so pupils who have not done as well as you thought; you can see halfway through a term whether they are going wrong. You catch them, you pick them up, and come the A-levels they are where you want them to be.

It is so fulfilling when these systems are working that you cannot go into a school without knowing that it is happening. It is terribly easy, too, to see when it is not happening. You simply ask the head what systems they have in place for evaluating teachers and what systems they have in place for training. If there is not real enthusiasm there, if there are not the stories of success and the new ideas that have been brought in pouring out of a head teacher, then he is not doing it right.

Often, even in some of the old and great schools, it is not being done at all. There is a feeling that you do not need to know these thingsx2014;that a good teacher is a good teacher, that people go their own way, that the results produce themselves at the end of the day, that it is rather demeaning to be watched by colleagues and that the idea of being judged by colleagues can be difficult for experienced teachers. There are all kinds of reasons why the system jams up, but when it works well it enthuses the whole school.

It is not something that will be difficult to put into a short inspection, but it is absolutely crucial, as other noble Lords have said, to whether the system will work.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

Before he replies, perhaps the Minister will deal with the criticism that has come to us from the General Teaching Council for England. It states that it approves of the Government's new relationship with schools—the NRWS—and welcomes the way in which the role of school self-evaluation is upgraded by that model. In particular, the council commends the reference in the original Ofsted consultation document, Ofsted: The Future of Inspection, to the need for inspection to complement schools' development of planning and self-evaluation and to Ofsted's wish, explicitly to share the responsibility for improving all educational settings in a way we have not done up to now". Those statements undoubtedly represent a significant policy shift, if carried through, as Ofsted has often been criticised by schools for not supporting them sufficiently in addressing the improvements that inspection has identified as necessary. That is the GTC's criticism and the Minister would be well advised at least to comment on it, if not to reply to it.

Lord Filkin

Although I agree with much of what has been said, I do not believe that the amendment is necessary—as the Committee would almost expect me to say. It has, however, been an important debate because, as we have said a number of times, the self-evaluation process is in a sense central to the Bill. One of the questions that I asked in preparation was how we can ensure that self-evaluation is done well.

It starts, of course, from the principle that self-evaluation is not a burden. As the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, indicated, it should be a fundamental part of a school's processes, almost irrespective of whether this Bill had been invented. That is what good leadership is about. You are clear about what you are trying to achieve and you have rigorous and, you hope, not too bureaucratic processes for challenging yourself and seeing where you need to improve.

Therefore, the thrust of the Bill, through aligning inspection with what ought to be good management and leadership practice, is an attempt to have a virtuous circle rather than the imposition of another burden. The self-evaluation ought to be done every year. It is not something that is done when the inspector cometh, but it is part of good management and leadership.

Self-evaluation is central not only to the inspection process but is an important part of the wider policy for a new relationship with schools. Both self-evaluation and outside evaluation are vital to that new relationship. Our interest is in promoting quality outcomes, not policing in detail every activity that might contribute to how they are achieved.

Clearly, schools are at different stages of development, as the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, indicated, in terms of the effectiveness and quality of self-evaluation. We are currently developing guidance jointly with Ofsted to include some good practice examples and guidance on completing the self-evaluation form, which is part of the inspection process. The guidance will be strategic rather than prescriptive, in line with the ethos of the new relationship with the school. It will not be a matter of, "Here is the form that you have to fill in.". That does not mean to say that there will be no check on the effectiveness of the self-evaluation.

The strict answer to the probing amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, and the reason why it is not necessary, is that the assessment of the school's self-evaluation will take place partly through the inspection itself, which will test the school's judgment made through self-evaluation against the evidence that inspectors have gathered—either as part of other processes or as part of what the school offers.

We shall come to this issue later, but there is an important message. If one thinks of schools that are at the lowest level of performance, as will be recognised from the different structure of categorisation, the school that is clearly not performing well, but which owns up to it and accepts it—in other words, it has an honest and realistic self-evaluation of where it sits and the commitment to do something about it—could find that it is in a different category from a school that is in denial. That is fundamental to motivating the right sort of behaviour that the system is trying to stimulate.

It is not just an external inspection through the Ofsted process but a conversation with the school improvement partner. Part of the SIP's function is to challenge the processes used by the school in carrying out self-evaluation and the outcomes that result. The SIP can pose questions, suggest sources of evidence and challenge interpretations of the evidence that the school itself has not seen, but which someone external with a wider perspective of what is possible and what is happening can see. That is what good external challenge is about. The SIP can advise managers on identifying improvement priorities and read the summary provided on the self-evaluation form critically, checking that it is based on evidence, not assertion, and that it identifies significant issues.

We have all seen the process that produces glossy documents, as referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, which are modestly self-congratulatory. Much more impressive are the people who have achieved, but who are critical about how to go further. That is what impresses the experienced inspector and external stimulus.

Lord Hanningfield

I hesitate to speak from personal experience of a local authority, but in Essex we have 110 secondary schools, 50 of which are already carrying out self-evaluation. They are at different levels, so perhaps 25 can skip through the process; and 25 may need real help because of where they are and the problems that they have. Help cannot happen overnight, so will the Minister say how that process can be started? It is no use Ofsted going in. It will say that the school is not doing it properly now, so someone must help it start the process. I am sure that it is common throughout the country that 75 per cent are probably able and moving towards their goal, while 25 per cent of schools need initial help in the process. Will the Minister comment on that?

Lord Filkin

The noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, is right. That is a description of reality. From the centre, we are seeking to avoid thinking that the way to do this is to develop a thick manual and a set of forms. In essence, this has to be the stimulus for more creativity, rather than people thinking that they are going through a compliance process. The more specific answer to his question is that—apart from the high-level guidance that we are going to give, and I shall speak a bit more about the evidence of that in a few minutes—this is where the school improvement partners will have a particular function. They will be identifying those schools almost from the authority's own knowledge. Good local authorities know where schools are not performing well or do not have the capacity to self-evaluate well, as the noble Lord's local authority does, and they will focus their attention there and support those schools at the earlier stages of the process. It is crucial and the SIPs will do that.

We have taken a conscious decision not to have a model of self-evaluation for schools and not to tell them how to do it. They are free to use any model that gives them the best insights into their improvement priorities. The guidance suggests key questions or acid tests that the school ought to pose to itself as part of the process. I shall touch on one or two of those very briefly.

One acid test of the effectiveness of self-evaluation is whether the school's evaluation is based on a good range of telling evidence. Clearly, after a while, a school improvement partner or Ofsted will know the range of evidence that one would expect the school to be looking at and the comparators with which it was comparing itself in terms of its achievements.

A second test is whether the self-evaluation identifies the most important questions about how well a school services learners. The question of what is most important is crucial. A self-evaluation process that describes 700 things is useless. A process must identify the things that are most critical to achieve and where the improvement is most critical. Unless there is focus, one can do nothing.

The next question is how the school compares with the best comparable schools. That is about ambition. Another question is whether the self-evaluation planning involves key people in the school and seeks the views of key groups such as parents, learners and others; in other words, the process points on which they communicate. The last acid test is whether the self-evaluation process is integral to the key management systems. That relates to the points we talked about earlier. In other words, is the self-evaluation process the core business, rather than something that has been stuck on? It ought to be the core business of management. That is an outline of some of the key guidance developed in discussion with some of the leadership figures on the issue, and we think that it will help.

Inspection will be based on the self-evaluation form which schools will be expected to update at least once a year. The inspector will compare the outcomes of the school's own self-evaluation with the outcomes of the inspection. How successful the school has been at identifying its own strengths and weaknesses will be an important test in the inspection and will be reflected in the reports. That is the direct answer to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. This is an important distinction. The inspection will test the outcomes of self-evaluation but not the processes that the school has been through to identify them.

Finally, we envisage that Ofsted will be able to assess processes involving self-evaluation through future thematic surveys that give a wider view of the quality of self-evaluation taking place in the school. In other words, that is a clear signal that there has to be a thematic study at some point in order to research the developed experience and reflect upon what more needs to be done to take it further.

Perhaps I may turn to some of the more specific points. The noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, asked about the GTC briefing. Self-evaluation is part of the improvement but we must keep clear boundaries in inspection. I am also advised that we do not think that we received a copy of the GTC briefing. We are therefore slightly handicapped in our answer on that. We shall do better in the follow up.

We have already said that the new self-evaluation is designed to be integral to the school's planning and improvement cycle. So, I do not think that I can add more on that.

I have gone on at length, but I think that this is an essential debate in terms of the architecture of the Bill. I hope that I have gone some way towards making the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, feel that the processes will answer questions while the legislation does not need to.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Lucas

I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, is not too satisfied. I found the Minister's answer limited. I do not think he appreciates the position that we believe this aspect of inspection should have in terms of being brought to the Minister's attention. I very much hope that the noble Baroness will feel inclined to pursue the matter at a later stage. It is up to her; I shall not try to gazump her on it.

I was reminded that my noble friend Lord Hanningfield carries the good name of my family in his hands and that all he can do to improve the performance of the Sir Charles Lucas School will be much appreciated.

Lord Hanningfield

For noble Lords' benefit, we have a Sir Charles Lucas School in Colchester which is named after my noble friend's family.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I thank the Minister for his reply. I am not fully satisfied. The more the Minister identified the detailed guidance which has to be given the more I considered how useful it would be to have a small general clause. The Government will clearly be issuing guidance to schools. The issue will absorb resources. Training will be needed with regard to leadership and teaching staff. It will take time and effort to develop these self-evaluation procedures. Schools need the resources to develop them and a learning curve of how to do so.

Knowing that it is one of the issues the inspectors will be considering will be a stimulus. They will be looking at how far their self-evaluation procedures produce the same answers as those of the inspectors. It is an important part. Nevertheless, they have to have those self-evaluation procedures in hand.

The noble Lord, Lord Roberts, may be interested to know why I tabled the amendment. Having gone through the GTC briefing for the Second Reading, I thought that this was a good point that we should raise and we tabled the amendment.

I hear what the Minister says about school improvement partners. However, school improvement partners seems a fashionable idea that will come and go. We have had quite a lot of such ideas through the ages. I would not mind betting that ten years down the line there will not be school improvement partners. Nevertheless, if we put a provision into legislation now it will be there 10 years down the line.

Lord Filkin

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I have some difficulty with her amendment. I said in short that the process of appraisal by Ofsted would explicitly make a judgment, as part of that process, on whether the school was developing rigorous internal processes of self-evaluation. That is what I stated at length. That is the truth in short of what the process will do. Therefore I am at a loss to understand why putting a provision into legislation will make any difference.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

It is not so dissimilar from saying, the quality of the leadership in and management of those schools, including whether the financial resources made available to those schools are managed efficiently". Are they developing rigorous internal self-evaluation procedures?" relates to much the same issue. If we put the one into the legislation I do not see why we should not put in the other. I shall withdraw the amendment. However, it is an issue to which we shall return.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment

No. 12: Page 2, line 21, at end insert ", and ( ) the behaviour of pupils and levels of discipline in those schools The noble Baroness said: Amendments Nos. 12 and 31 relating to England and Amendments Nos. 79 and 83 relating to Wales would introduce a new category to the inspection regime that the chief inspector would report upon and would be expected to keep the Secretary of State informed about; namely, the behaviour of pupils and levels of discipline in each school.

The rationale behind the amendments is evident and relatively straightforward. In recent years we have seen a very real and genuine concern about the growing levels of indiscipline and classroom violence in our schools. Such behaviour is simply unacceptable. Pupils have the right to expect to be taught in an environment free from intimidation and fear while our hard-working teachers deserve the right to get on with their crucial jobs without a similar threat. Indeed, it is one of the key worries consistently identified by teachers, and one of the main reasons—alongside red tape—why they leave the profession.

The Times Educational Supplement reported last year that there were over 17,000 expulsions in just one term in 2003. That figure, which might not even reveal the true extent of the problem, is both shocking and disturbing. Furthermore, we know that school standards and behaviour in the classroom are closely linked. Children learn best in a safe, secure and structured environment. They cannot learn in classrooms where loutish behaviour and disrespect for others is the norm.

Establishing such a category would make it possible for parents to identify which of their local schools had concerns relating to problems of discipline. It would additionally allow the relevant education authorities to identify those schools particularly affected and target resources accordingly. At present, there is no category within the inspection regime that deals specifically with concerns over school discipline. As concerns and problems evolve, so must the inspection regime.

The vast majority of parents would support the amendments, and I hope that the Minister will lend his weight to them. I beg to move.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

My name is down in support of Amendment No. 32 and I support Amendment No. 12 as well.

It seems to me that there is a double layer with regard to what we mean by discipline in schools. It concerns what happens in the general areas of the school—the corridors, the playground, the cloakrooms—and what happens inside the classrooms. Although one issue very much overlaps with the other and affects it, they are different as far as inspection is concerned.

The general areas of the school, where people of all age groups and very often both genders mix and mingle, reflect the school's level of expectation towards pupils' behaviour. It is perfectly true that in recent years there has been a degeneration of behaviour in the parts of the school outside the classroom which has begun increasingly to affect what is able to happen in terms of teaching and learning inside the classroom. That is very largely a failure of the expectations at school management level, and it knocks on to the inspection requirements.

I have seen many schools in very deprived and difficult areas whose neighbours have huge discipline problems which nevertheless have well behaved, well ordered children who are simply meeting the expectations implicit in the way that the school is run. They are treated with respect and they are expected to treat each other and their teachers with equal respect.

I do not think that discipline has anything to do with the old-fashioned cane, nor with the use of sarcasm or punitive measures. It has much more to do with the level of expectation of the way in which people behave towards each other.

Inside the classroom there are different issues. The reason that discipline breaks down in some classrooms and very little learning takes place—because if children are not disciplined, quiet or engaged, not much learning will take place—has much more to do with the quality of the teaching. I have seen schools in which the behaviour outside the classroom was pretty bad—although, as I said, it knocks on eventually into the clasrooms—but where individual teachers still had perfectly "well disciplined" children and well ordered learning. That was because their teaching was interesting and exciting; it engaged pupils and made them want to learn. Consequently, they were not bored and finding other things to do besides pay attention, if I can put it in old-fashioned terms.

I believe that we are losing sight of what discipline is about, either because we are frightened of the word because it sounds like "bring back the cane" or something like that—I hope it is apparent that I am not saying so—or because we are losing the central core of what disciplined learning is about, which is the quality of the teaching. If it is exciting and engages the young people; if it makes them want to continue learning so that they do not even notice that they are behaving well because they are concentrating on what they are doing, then that is the ideal to which good teaching strives. Thank goodness there are thousands of classrooms in this country where that kind of teaching and learning still goes on. I strongly support this as an element in the package of inspection.

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood

Many good reasons have already been given for this amendment. Perhaps I may underline one which has been alluded to. In the matter of parental choice, which the Government properly hold dear, one of the key criteria operated by most parents is the quality of discipline in the school for all the reasons that we have just heard. I reckon that it rates virtually as highly as academic: standards when parents sit down wondering where there children will go. I believe that that is an important reason for supporting this amendment.

Lord Dearing

I am glad that this issue has arisen in the debate. I referred to the great importance of behaviour at Second Reading. I thought about tabling amendments because it is such an important issue. I did not do so for two reasons. The first is that I was satisfied that the Government are taking it seriously in spending £470 million over the past three years, as I recall the figure. Secondly, I went through the Ofsted reports to see if it was taking this seriously. I noticed that there have been three special reports on behaviour in schools since 1999. I went through the last general Ofsted report for the latest year and saw that there were specific paragraphs on behaviour in primary and secondary schools. I thought that people are caring about the issue, looking at it and reporting on it.

Having said that, and having decided not to table amendments, despite the findings of Ofsted, I am not satisfied that there is not a problem. If I recall Ofsted's findings, it said that in almost all primary schools there is not a problem. I believe it said that in nine out of 10 schools it was good. As regards secondary schools, it found that behaviour was satisfactory and that in approaching three-quarters it was good.

However, I recall from the Government's recent five-year strategy that they themselves say that there is low-level disruption in all schools. It states at page 62 that, low-level disruption is a problem affecting all schools to some extent". The five-year strategy also stated on the same page that, good behaviour is essential to good learning". But if Ofsted is saying that it is only good in approaching three-quarters of the secondary schools, there is a big problem. The problem of violence is known. I also saw the quote from the TES of 17,000 pupils being suspended. I was so shocked that I could not believe it, but I am now reassured that it must be true for the noble Baroness to quote it.

In the Commons debate reference was made to an article in the Guardian which stated that 31 per cent of teachers leaving the profession quoted behaviour as the reason. I am clear that the Government are taking the matter seriously and that Ofsted is looking into it, but I have a sneaking little worry that the standards that Ofsted regards as satisfactory, or good, may not be sufficiently demanding for the good of education in our children's schools.

I leave the Minister with a question. In judging what is good in behaviour, to what extent has Ofsted looked at what is considered good in other countries?

Baroness Howe of Idlicote

I support this amendment. Whether it needs to be included on the face of the Bill is neither here nor there. But the issue we are all addressing is vitally important. If we know, according to Ofsted, that 90 per cent of schools have satisfactory standards of behaviour, how many are represented by the 10 per cent which is not covered? How appalling is the likely effect of that on their career prospects as they develop into full adult life?

I regard this matter from the point of view of what the Government are trying to achieve—and I think they are trying to achieve a school where there is the kind of respect for one another that delivers what we are talking about. But can the Minister tell us where in this group of subsections that area is covered, because I honestly cannot see it? It is one reason why something more specific should be included. There is little doubt that matters such as violence and bullying can completely take over the ethos of a school. It is in those areas that we need to ensure that any inspection will take a very firm view in reporting on the changes that need to take place.

9 p.m.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

I support this important group of amendments. My name is attached to Amendments Nos. 79 and 83, which apply the same principle and requirement to the chief inspector in Wales, namely that he should have this function. There is no doubt about the importance of the behaviour of pupils and levels of discipline in schools, for the two reasons that have already been advanced; namely, the importance of these two elements for the learning process itself, as my noble friend Lady Perry said, because if there is discipline and good behaviour, that contributes naturally to an enjoyable learning process. Secondly, I support the amendments because those elements are all-important to parents. I am sure that, as the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, indicated, they are among the first requirements with which parents are concerned.

It is important that the inspectorate has broad investigative powers, particularly the function relating to behaviour and discipline, because the inspectorate alone has powers in the educational field. I was looking recently at the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill which will shortly enter Committee in this House. It was an enjoyable Christmas Recess experience, as I am sure your Lordships will appreciate. Powerful as that ombudsman will be in Wales, covering almost the entire span of public services, he is nevertheless debarred—at length, I might say—from examining much of the education field. Among the matters excluded from his investigative remit are: Action relating to—(a) the giving of instruction, or (b) conduct, curriculum, internal organisation, management or discipline, in a school or other educational establishment maintained by a local authority in Wales". There is a further subsection which looks too complex to examine at this stage. But that gives the Committee an idea of the scope of exclusion. Therefore, if the Public Services Ombudsman in Wales cannot touch this sphere, surely it is all important that the inspectorate should be able to look into the issues of conduct—I draw particular attention to tha—the curriculum, internal organisation, management and discipline. Two of the elements referred to in this amendment are actually and specifically excluded from the remit of the Public Services Ombudsman. I think that that is a very telling point in favour of ensuring that the inspectorate in Wales, as in England, has a responsibility in this area.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

At this late hour, and given that the Minister is anxious to proceed more smartly in this debate than we have thus far, I do not want to say very much but I wish to make two points.

First, the inspectorate already looks at discipline within schools. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, being a governor of a school that has just gone through the inspection process, I can tell the Committee that the inspectorate does indeed report on behaviour and discipline within a school. Given that that is already covered and that we know that inspectors have that remit, I, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, am uncertain. I feel that this is a very important issue; nevertheless, I am not convinced that we need to add this extra provision to the Bill.

Secondly, I want to reinforce the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dearing. It is important to get the two equations right. You can achieve satisfactory educational standards only if, at the same time, you get the behavioural equation right. You cannot teach a class if it is misbehaving. With regard to the concept of the two simultaneous equations, when I was a parent-governor at a large girls' comprehensive school in London, I used to emphasise that we needed to ensure that we got the simultaneous equation right if we were to achieve the required standards. It seems to me that these are the two issues that one has to look at, and they must be seen as simultaneous equations: you need to get both right if you are to achieve.

The Earl of Listowel

I want to make two points. First, I listened with great interest to the noble Baroness, Lady Perry of Southwark, when she spoke about the key being to engage the interests of children. That tallies very much with my own limited experience several years ago working in a small primary school with two boys who were not engaging with their class. I was watching the class and worked with the two boys. I set them a task of having to write a certain amount against the clock. They had been wasting time but they got down to the job and enjoyed it. It was a competition and they were very focused. It seems to me that engaging children's interest is key.

It is to be hoped that part of the Bill's impact will be to free teachers more so that they can think about the needs of the children. It is hoped that they will have fewer worries about bureaucracy and inspections so that they can be more focused on what children need and in what children are interested.

Secondly, I want to mention, tentatively, the importance of communication between teachers and parents. Parents can provide a key for teachers in understanding why children are difficult in class and they may be able to give them ideas about how better to manage children's behaviour. Certainly it is very important to know about the background of children in care. More and more nowadays, teachers can call upon a teaching assistant to work individually with a child. Some children need individual attention as they cannot work well in groups. I think that that also needs to be borne in mind.

Lord Lucas

I, too, think it is extremely important that this is a matter on which the inspectors specifically report. As the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, said, it is an issue on which parents focus. That is absolutely right. It is one of the key points of interest for parents because it is such a good diagnostic of other things that are going on in the school. It is a diagnostic of how good the SEN provision is. If it is falling apart, there will be bad behaviour. It is diagnostic of how good the pastoral care is. As my noble friend Lady Perry of Southwark said, it is a diagnostic of how good the teaching is. Above all, it is a diagnostic of the sort of life that your child is likely to lead at the school.

At the same time, it is terribly hard to establish the level of discipline in a school. When an inspector comes in, everything is perfect. It is the natural reaction of pupils as well as teachers to be on good behaviour when there is an inspector around, whatever things are like on other days. It is one of the reasons—I imagine that we will come back to this with other amendments—why it is important for inspectors to talk to pupils and parents, not just through stilted interviews but by giving them time to talk on their own terms and taking time to listen to them. That is how you get a feeling for what is going on and start to pick up the histories and feelings that are indicative of the problems in behaviour and discipline in a school.

The other thing that the inspectors must get right is understanding that discipline comes in all forms. The inspectors had a problem with Summerhill a few years back. I think that they have now learnt that you can have something close to anarchy that is, none the less, disciplined. Schools come in all styles and sizes, and it is important to understand whether, in the context of the spirit of the school, the school is disciplined, rather than expecting some sort of model with everyone sitting at desks in a regimented way, as happens with pupils at lots of schools—usually under threat of expulsion. Good discipline means an environment in which pupils are happy and can fulfil themselves and learn well.

Lord Filkin

We have had an important debate on a crucial issue. At the North of England conference on 6 January, my new Secretary of State made discipline and behaviour in schools one of the central elements of what was effectively her maiden speech. She said that universal high standards required universal good behaviour in our schools. She went on to talk about the contract between the parents and the schools and what it implied and about how badly behaved pupils damaged their own education and that of their classmates. So, we know how crucial the matter is and how crucial it is to find ways of making things better in schools where they are not good enough.

We agree that the inspection should report on behaviour and discipline in schools. The framework for the inspection of schools that is being developed to support the new arrangements will capture the position on pupil behaviour and discipline in all schools. We are already committed to ensuring that behaviour and discipline will be covered fully by school inspection.

The inspection of behaviour already plays an important part in Ofsted's remit, as it is possible through the current statutory purposes. It will be strengthened through our proposed extension of the remit of the chief inspector in reporting on the school's contribution to the well-being of pupils. The inclusion of a reference to well-being in the purposes of inspection will, therefore, serve the intention of placing behaviour and discipline firmly within the inspection remit.

Under the current inspection framework, the inspector must report on attitudes and behaviour, including attendance at school; the extent to which pupils show interest in school life; the extent to which pupils behave well in lessons and around the school; the extent to which pupils are willing to take responsibility; the extent to which pupils are free from bullying, racism and other forms of harassment; and the extent to which pupils form constructive relationships with others. There is a clear, prescriptive template for evaluation. Similarly, the new inspection framework will require specific, explicit judgments about behaviour on each school that is inspected.

We recognise the importance of such matters. The Government's Behaviour and Attendance programme includes action and support—some specifically targeted—aimed at helping schools, LEAs and parents. Ofsted will support that programme through ongoing thematic studies and advice on best practice.

I have already spoken about the inclusion of the reference to well-being and how it strengthens the chief inspector's remit. Behaviour and attendance are fundamental to the raising of school standards and attainment and cannot be seen in isolation. We are committed to giving every child the opportunity to achieve his or her goals. By inspecting behaviour and discipline as part of a school's overall contribution to well-being, Ofsted helps every school to identify its strengths and areas for improvement.

9.15 p.m.

The amendments tabled for Wales by the noble Lords, Lord Hanningfield and Lord Roberts of Conwy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton—that is, Amendments Nos. 79 and 83—would, under Clause 19, introduce a duty on the chief inspector to inform the Assembly about the behaviour of pupils and levels of discipline and a duty on an inspector conducting an inspection under Clause 27 to report on the behaviour of pupils and levels of discipline at a school.

The Assembly recognises the difficulties faced by head teachers and other staff when dealing with disruptive pupils and is firmly committed to promoting discipline and order in schools. All children should have the chance to study free from disruption and teachers need the tools to help them to minimise it when it occurs. LEAs must have in place behaviour support plans that should give details of training, consultation, guidance and other services available to schools to help them effectively manage pupil behaviour. All must have effective, clear behaviour policies.

For those reasons, under Clause 19, dealing with the functions of chief inspectors, a chief inspector is required to inform the Assembly about the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. To reflect and to discharge that duty the new common inspection framework introduced in Wales from September 2004 makes explicit reference to behaviour and discipline. Under the new framework, inspectors will be required in every instance to assess how a school contributes to the development by pupils of personal, social and learning skills. That will include judgments on the extent to which pupils behave responsibly and show respect for others, achieve high levels of attendance and punctuality, show motivation, and work productively and make effective use of time.

There is no difference between us on the importance of those points and the importance of making improvement. I hope that I have been able to illustrate how Ofsted, now and in the future, will have very clear and explicit duties to inspect on behaviour and discipline in schools and to report on them, which has clearly been the thrust of the debate.

Recognising that all that will happen, a number of noble Lords asked how we can make the system work even better. It is not a simple matter. The noble Baroness, Lady Perry, is right: in part, it is a function of good teaching. There is a relationship.

I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, is right that that is a dimension that interests parents passionately. Common sense tells them that an orderly school is one in which a child is more likely to learn and one that will provide a more comfortable environment—rather than a semi-anarchic one—in which a child can live.

The noble Lord, Lord Dearing, signalled the extent of what we are doing, but I shall not weary the House with that now. He also asked questions about how we can ensure that Ofsted's standards are sufficiently high. I do not mean that as a rude remark about Ofsted, but it is a good question. How do we ensure that our ambitions are high enough by comparison with those of other countries?

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, touched on the fact that regardless of the length or shortness of an inspection, it is not a simple matter to get a fix on exactly what is happening on discipline in a school. He is also right to say that there is a linkage with SEN performance. If a school is performing poorly on SEN, that will lead fairly rapidly to behavioural problems, and not solely in primary schools.

I am with the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, on the fact that that issue is vital. Regardless of whether such provision is put in the Bill—and clearly we do not believe that its inclusion would make an improvement—the issue of how to improve is still before us. I shall not signal that I expect to return with a magic answer, but the quality of the debate requires us all to reflect further on what can be done to make the objectives we share work more powerfully through this part of the process. It is a central part.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, that the new Welsh ombudsman will be able to investigate complaints relating to Estyn in the future. Therefore, movement is taking place there. He also asked what the Assembly is doing about pupil attendance and discipline. Rather than go into detail now, as that will take more time, perhaps I can write to him with an answer and copy it to other Members. I hope that that has been helpful.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for his very helpful comments. Quite clearly we share the same desires on discipline in schools. I shall read what he has said with interest, but I shall probably return to the matter. When two former chief inspectors would like to see the provision on the face of the Bill I think that we should take the matter seriously. At the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 13 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Walmsley

moved Amendment No. 14: Page 2, line 34, after "teachers" insert "and other staff involved in providing support for teaching and learning The noble Baroness said: I rise to move Amendment No. 14 and speak to Amendment No. 15, which is grouped with it. Both refer to subsection (5), which deals with other functions that could be given to the chief inspector, including responsibility for training.

Amendment No. 14 seeks to probe whether Ofsted will now have a role in inspecting the quality of training and professional development for the school workforce other than just for teachers. The issue is important, given the extended remit of the Teacher Training Agency under Part 3 and the additional training responsibilities under Clause 92.

The inclusion in the new school inspection framework of the requirement for inspectors to evaluate the commitment of the school's leadership to induction and continuing professional development is very welcome. But currently that appears to be just about teachers. Will there be any evaluation of how schools and local authorities are managing in relation to providing genuine professional development opportunities for all members of school staff and not just teachers? How will the extended remit of the Teacher Training Agency be reflected in the inspections of higher education institutes and further education colleges?

I think that we would all agree that the effective development of staff through induction and professional development must be inspected. However, that must have due regard for the practical constraints facing schools, in particular due to lack of funding following the removal of dedicated funding for induction through the Standards Fund and the discontinuation of funding for a number of national continuous professional development initiatives. We need to take those constraints into account. Will inspectors record instances where staff are denied CPDs that they would have liked to undertake because the funding is not available?

Amendment No. 15 probes whether the chief inspector's role in training is in relation just to initial teacher training—that is. the training of teachers before they become teachers—or in relation to in-service training and professional development; in other words, teachers in schools. We have tabled the amendment to leave out the word "for" and insert "in" to probe whether that is the Government's intention. Clause 2(5) states: The Chief Inspector is to have such other functions … with respect to the training of teachers for such schools, as may be assigned to him by the Secretary of State". That simply re-enacts existing legislation and relates to the inspection of initial teacher training. It is vital for the quality of ITT provision to be assessed in schools and colleges, but there is the important question why there appears to be no explicit role for the chief inspector in relation to teachers' continuous professional development because of the word "for" rather than the word "is" that we might have expected. So the amendment seeks to raise this question by putting in the word "in" instead.

I hope the Minister can clarify both those points for us. I beg to move.

Lord Filkin

Amendment No. 14 proposed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Sharp and Lady Walmsley, raises an important point. Increasingly the education that children receive is not only a product of the work of teachers, although they are key players, but of a whole team of teachers and other types of specialist staff. This has been a revolution in recent years, which we believe is going well. It is already recognised in Ofsted's normal school inspection regime as one of the factors that influences the standards of teaching and learning in school.

The noble Baroness proposes that Ofsted should now be given a power not only to examine the work of support staff in schools, but also the training that they receive and for which Part 3 of the present Bill provides.

That would parallel exactly the powers that the chief inspector already has in respect of teachers. On the face of it, it seems a sensible suggestion. Although this will shock the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, with noble Lords' permission the Government would like to reflect further on it. I expect to be in a position to present the conclusions of that consideration on Report. It is almost a hit, but we should hold our breath until we actually get there.

The amendment would replace provision for the inspection of teacher training "for" schools with a provision for inspecting teacher training "in" schools. I am not certain that my remarks will necessarily connect directly with the points that the noble Baroness amplified, but I shall have a go.

Ofsted is responsible for inspecting the quality of all routes to qualified teacher status (QTS) in England and ensuring their compliance with the legal

requirement for initial teacher training and the award of QTS. It is partly on the basis of those inspections that the Teacher Training Agency takes funding and accreditation decisions in respect of this provision. Part 3 of the Bill envisages that it will be able to continue to do so.

I suspect that the effect of the amendment may not be what the noble Baroness envisages. By limiting the chief inspector's role to inspecting the training of teachers "in" schools rather than "for" schools, Ofsted would be prohibited from reporting on any parts of initial teacher training that take place in university education departments rather than in schools. The noble Baroness said clearly that that was not her intention, even though that would be the effect of the amendment.

To labour the point, Ofsted could continue to inspect employment-based training, such as the graduate teacher programme, and school-centred initial teacher training programmes, but it could not look at substantial parts of BEd and PGCE courses that take place on university premises. The noble Baroness's question was not about that; it related to the genuine development opportunities offered for members of the school workforce. I shall have to exercise a paucity of imagination and write to the noble Baroness, as I have not yet been enlightened on the matter.

Baroness Walmsley

This is a very welcome surprise with which to start the new Session. I thank the Minister for volunteering to consider further Amendment No. 14. I shall not push the matter any further. I do not wish to count my chickens before they have hatched. The response is very welcome.

I hope that the Minister will look again at my remarks on Amendment No. 15. Perhaps we can discuss it before Report. Although we would not want the inspection of work in universities to be made impossible, it is important that schools' leadership in ensuring that continuous professional development can take place in schools is also inspected. So far as I can see, the word "for" would not allow that. I should be most grateful if the Minister would consider the matter further. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 not moved.] Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Annual and other reports to Secretary of State]:

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 17: Page 2, line 41, after "it" insert "for affirmative resolution The noble Baroness said: I warmly welcome the fact that at half-past nine we have reached Clause 3. This is a simple, straightforward amendment; it builds on Amendment No. 5. Its intent is to ensure that the annual report of the chief inspector is laid before the House for affirmative resolution. We believe that it would give Parliament a vital, clear opportunity to discuss the work of the chief inspector and Ofsted annually.

Given the ever-increasing role that Ofsted plays in our education system—for example, its recent move into early years and nursery provision—it is important that Parliament has a chance to discuss its work, how effectively it is performing, its functions and how much value it adds to our education system. This is a simple step designed to improve parliamentary accountability, openness and transparency. I hope that it will be supported from all corners of the Committee. I beg to move.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Filkin

Clause 3 re-enacts the current requirement that the chief inspector must make an annual report to the Secretary of State, who must in turn lay that report before Parliament. The purpose of this provision is to ensure the accountability of the chief inspector to Parliament. We touched on this earlier in our discussions.

The requirement to lay annual reports before each House of Parliament ensures appropriate parliamentary scrutiny and the annual report sets out the professional judgements of the chief inspector informed by the evidence of inspection on the health of education and care provision within his remit. However, the affirmative resolution procedure provides that Parliament must expressly approve what is before it. It is a procedure used to approve delegated legislation such as certain regulations or orders.

The implication of tabling an amendment which includes the term "affirmative resolution" is to imply that the report should not stand if Members of the House do not like what it has to say. The implication of that is that the independence of the chief inspector's judgment is subject to whether Parliament approves what the chief inspector says. I am certain that that is not the intent of the amendment but its implication would be in danger of weakening the chief inspector's independence.

If the intention of the amendment is to seek assurance that there is a proper parliamentary scrutiny of the issues raised in the chief inspector's annual report—amen to that. I can categorically offer that assurance.

One of the most well-established routes for this is through the Education and Skills Select Committee, which holds an annual session on the chief inspector's annual report. The chief inspector and his senior management team are called to give evidence and account for the report and its contents. In recent years there has also been a regular parliamentary debate on such matters relating to the end report and the work of Ofsted, including at or soon after the laying of the report. In addition, there is also ministerial accountability to Parliament for the operation of Ofsted. It is right that Parliament has the opportunity to discuss issues raised by the annual report and other matters relating to the quality of education. The current arrangements provide for that. They are within the control of Parliament—they are not in the control of the Executive or the Government in any respect whatever.

It is up to Members of this House and another place how they seek to engage with the inspector in the future. I hope that the noble Baroness is reassured that the crucial accountability of the chief inspector to Parliament without that independence being compromised will be there strongly in the future, in a form that will be decided by Parliament, not by Ministers from this Dispatch Box.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for his reply. We so enjoy our debates on Ofsted that it might be nice to make them an annual event. I will reflect on what the Minister has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 18: Page 2, line 41. at end insert— ( ) must make an annual report, concerning the results of studies funded under section (Evaluation of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools for England ), to the Secretary of State who must lay a copy of it before each House of Parliament, The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 18 I shall speak at the same time to Amendment No. 50.

Just as schools will benefit from evaluation by Ofsted, so would Ofsted benefit from outside evaluation. No group of people—however wonderful and worthy—can do everything on their own. It is always helpful to have some outside view of what is going on, some new influx of fresh ideas, some critical thinking—which is a difficult thing to produce from within an organisation—some way of challenging what is going on to enable an institution to improve itself and move forward. Ofsted is becoming such a crucial part of our education structure that we really ought to have that in place for it.

What I have suggested here is a structure where the research into Ofsted's methods and into the results it is producing would be commissioned independently of Ofsted and the DfES and not wedded to any particular research council. It would be carried out by researchers who are in turn subject to their own evaluation and monitoring procedures as part of the higher educational research establishment, so that the monitoring of the monitors is already catered for.

Their results would be reported back to us through the medium of Ofsted, so that it did not appear as something which was criticism out of the blue to be confronted and rebutted by Ofsted, but as part of Ofsted's own self-evaluation. Doubtless it would disagree with some of the criticisms, but others it would take on board. Overall it would be seen as a constructive process. Whatever structure we adopt, it is essential that it should be done. We will all be better off, in particular Ofsted, if we do so. I beg to move.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I rise to speak briefly in support of these two amendments. It is important for us to be concerned with Quis custodiat custodies here. We have in Ofsted what is now a very powerful agency which at the moment is not subject to any regular evaluation procedures, although reviews are carried out from time to time. It would be quite helpful if such a procedure were written into its remit and therefore I strongly support the amendments.

Lord Filkin

I agree with the central thrust of the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, without—as he indicated—necessarily agreeing with the detail. Ofsted has to evaluate its work, and it is one of the Government's principles of inspection, published in July 2003 by the Office of Public Service Reform, against which Ofsted and other inspectorates are judged.

It may be helpful to differentiate between the evaluation of two distinct elements. The first involves the evaluation of the impact of Ofsted and its work, while the second relates to the evaluation of the processes involved in inspection. In part, obviously, it is the efficiency between the two that is relevant. The processes should lead to the most effective impact in the most economical way.

The first element might lead to questions about the extent to which Ofsted inspections have contributed to school improvement or accountability, while the second would lead to questions about methods and criteria for reaching judgments, and whether they are accurate and sound.

With regard to the first element—evaluating the impact of inspection—Ofsted has undertaken a comprehensive self-evaluation of its work, seeking independent validation of this through the Institute of Education. The results of that work were made public in a report published in July 2004. I shall write to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and to other noble Lords on the Front Benches with the appropriate reference. The study draws on extensive survey evidence from service providers and stakeholders, including parents. It analyses, for example, the impact of Ofsted on the improvement of schools and its impact on other sectors such as teacher training institutions and local authorities, as well as its impact on the improvement of inspection itself.

Turning to the second element, the evaluation of processes, Ofsted takes very seriously its responsibilities to ensure the quality of inspections and to keep its methodologies up to date. It has undertaken several international studies, particularly with the Dutch inspectorate, which have shown that the criteria and instruments of each inspectorate are capable of being used consistently by inspectors in both countries and of both nationalities. Ofsted meets regularly with inspectorates across Europe to compare methodologies and to learn from best practice elsewhere.

The methodology of the new inspection arrangements has been tried, evaluated and revised through the pilot phase. Each term, schools and LEAs have worked with inspectors to evaluate the approaches used and to recommend improvements. It is an active process that embraces the involvement of participants in the development of the model of inspection itself. Focus groups of parents and pupils have also been consulted on the approaches used to gather their views.

Further work is being planned to evaluate the new inspection arrangements as a whole. This will be completed in part through reviews conducted by the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit. It will also include all of the evaluations carried out throughout the pilot inspection. This is just the start of a move towards regular and systematic evaluation.

Ofsted also intends to commission an external evaluation of the project to implement the new arrangements proposed in this Bill, as well as theyshould—this meets the point about external evaluation. It will review the new inspection methodology and the impact of inspections on school effectiveness, which is the acid test. This will take account of the inspections carried out in the first year of the pilot, which demonstrates Ofsted's commitment to ongoing external evaluation of its work.

I agree that both the aspects of evaluation I have mentioned require proper scrutiny and frequent review. I hope that the examples I have given illustrate that Ofsted shares this commitment, which is underpinned by the Government's commitment to their principles of inspection published in 2003. You must have external processes for validating inspection procedures; they cannot be left in the hands of the inspectors themselves.

Lord Lucas

I am encouraged by what the noble Lord has said. Nonetheless, he has described a process of internal self-evaluation on the lines that Ofsted requires of schools, and quite right too. I am delighted that Ofsted is doing that as well as taking a critical look at itself by commissioning research into what it does and how well it does it. That is the ordinary process of a healthy organisation, but there also needs to be an element of critical, external—uncommissioned by Ofsted—evaluation. Commissioning an evaluation of yourself always tends to produce positive results, because people who operate in that kind of business want to be commissioned by other people. If you get a reputation for telling people in public that they are useless, you tend not to be commissioned by other people to do similar work.

It is rather like the old, independent schools inspection system before it became slightly sharper. Everything used to be wonderful, rosy and beautiful because they were all doing it to themselves and it was a boost to the whole system. We need to get away from that. There needs to be a clear level of external evaluation by Ofsted of what is going on.

I will read what the Minister has said together with the references. If I still want to raise any matter, I will come back to him on Report. However, I would like some help from him in respect of three matters. First, has Ofsted ever done a reconciliation of its evaluation of schools with the evaluations produced by the value added measures used by the Government, or indeed by the University of Durham? Secondly, can the Minister obtain for me the specification for the data that Ofsted collected under the old regime on each school and the data that it proposes to collect under the new regime? That would be immensely helpful in assisting me to get a feeling for the data that will actually be in place to support judgments under both the new and old regimes. Given that—I am grateful for the nod of the head—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 19: Page 3, line 1. leave out "may" and insert "shall The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 19 in respect of England and Amendment No. 80 in respect of Wales are designed to ensure that the chief inspector in each respective country does indeed publish either the annual report or any other report that he sends to the Secretary of State, or in the case of Wales to the Assembly.

As the Bill currently stands, there appears to be a degree of uncertainty around the word "may". That gives the impression that the relevant chief inspector can choose whether or not to publish the document— a situation that is open to possible misinterpretation.

These amendments would remove any element of doubt and would ensure that all documents are published and are available for public consumption, thus once again bringing greater transparency and openness to the work of the chief inspector. I beg to move.

Lord Filkin

Amendment No. 19 would require the chief inspector to publish annual and other reports that he makes to the Secretary of State. The amendment would remove the current discretion that the chief inspector has, and has had since the beginning, to decide whether to publish reports to the Secretary of State.

It is important to recognise that the chief inspector already publishes the vast majority of reports. However, to require him to publish in all cases risks making public information that is sensitive, including that which identifies individuals. We think that it is appropriate that the chief inspector should retain this discretion whether to publish the reports that he makes to the Secretary of State. It is important that, in exercising his functions, the chief inspector should be able to give the Secretary of State frank advice and report to him without having to publish all the reports that he makes.

In addition, it is important to emphasise that in Clauses 13 and 15 the Bill makes detailed provision forth distribution of reports of school inspections to ensure that the appropriate persons, and importantly parents, receive a copy of inspection reports. Furthermore, Clause 10 provides that the chief inspector may publish such inspection reports.

The current arrangements ensure that there is public access to a wide range of inspection evidence, including electronic information. Ofsted's is one of the most frequently visited websites, attracting 150 million hits per year. The current arrangements give the chief inspector suitable flexibility while ensuring that a wealth of information is made available to the public.

In Wales, Amendment No. 80 would have a similar effect on Clause 20, requiring the chief inspector to make an annual report to the Assembly and requiring the Assembly to publish such reports. It also provides powers for the chief inspector to make and publish other reports on any matter within her remit. It therefore seems that, as with Amendment No. 19, the amendment to Clause 20, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, and the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, is to require the chief inspector to publish all reports made under the provisions of Clause 20.

The ability to inspect and report freely on any matter within the remit of the chief inspector is central to the drive to improve the quality of education and standards achieved by learners. The publication of reports ensures that findings are made widely available to both support school improvement and add to the evidence base that informs the development of policy.

It is right, therefore, that in principle inspection reports should be published and made widely available, and this is the case with respect to the vast majority, including school inspections and advice provided by the chief inspector to the Assembly. However, there are instances where it is the responsibility of others to publish reports made by the chief inspector. For example, it is the Assembly's statutory responsibility to publish the chief inspector's annual report, as required by the School Inspections Act.

While accepting the principle that inspection reports should be published, there has to be a degree of flexibility to acknowledge the responsibilities for publication that in some instances fall to others. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to require the chief inspector to publish all reports as proposed. However, the expectation is that the vast majority should be, except for the qualifications I have given. I hope that is helpful.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for that reply. I shall reflect on what he said. I shall talk to people about this and may come back to it. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No.20: Page 3, line 2, leave out "in such a manner as he considers appropriate" and insert "both electronically and by other means The noble Baroness said: As with the previous amendments, Amendment No. 20 in relation to England and Amendment No. 81 in relation to Wales would have a similar effect on either side of the border. They would remove the seemingly discretionary powers, yet again, of the respective chief inspector to publish—if, as we have seen in my previous set of amendments, he publishes the reports at all—in a fashion and manner of his choosing.

Instead, the intent of the amendments would be to compel the chief inspector to publish all documents sent either to the Secretary of State or the Assembly both electronically and in hard copy, once again aiding the process of transparency and openness.

Now that we live in the age of the Freedom of Information Act, such information that would be passed from chief inspector to Secretary of State is liable to be requested by any individual. Therefore, by opening up this process, not only are we saving the staff of the relevant departments a significant amount of time as the requests start to arrive but. most important of all, we are saving the taxpayer a considerable amount of money.

Furthermore, what could the chief inspector possibly have to hide that could not be displayed either on the Ofsted website or in hard copy in an Ofsted office? I beg to move.

Lord Filkin

I shall seek to be brief in replying to Amendments Nos. 20 and 81 respectively. The Bill states that the relevant chief inspector may arrange for the publication of annual and other reports in such a manner as they consider appropriate. The amendments would have the effect that such publications should be made available both by electronic and other means.

Clause 10(2) in relation to England and Clause 28(2) in relation to Wales also provide that the publication of annual and other reports to the Secretary of State may be by electronic means.

The current arrangements ensure that there is public access to a wide range of inspection evidence, including electronic information. Ofsted's website is one of the most frequently visited government websites, attracting some 150 million hits a year, as I have signalled. If the noble Baroness intends that hard copy should be provided on every occasion, this would significantly add to the cost to the taxpayer. It would be difficult to predict how many copies of each would be published, and publishing large numbers could lead to waste.

There is no evidence that the public wants the chief inspectors to make more reports available in hard copy. However, there is evidence that the website is working. It is a very effective vehicle and must continue to be promoted. The current arrangements give the chief inspector suitable flexibility while ensuring that a wealth of information is made available to the public.

Similar arguments apply to Wales. The system that has been used in Wales for some time has worked well. It provides a good use of resources and there would be little added value in removing the chief inspector's current discretion by requiring the publication of all reports both electronically and by other means.

It is important that both inspectors recognise that these are public reports; they are reports to which the public have a right of access. In many situations a website is clearly the best way. There will be times when, for a variety of reasons, the public will not have access unless there is a hard copy. That discretion must be used intelligently and flexibly, which goes to the heart of what the inspector is there for.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the noble Lord for his comments and accept what he says. We were concerned that although we tend to think that everyone has access to computers, not everyone does. We did not want anybody to be left out. I hear what he says about flexibility. We do not want it to be too prescriptive if it can be at the discretion of the chief inspector. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 21 not moved]

Clause 4 agreed to.

Baroness Andrews

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.

House adjourned at nine minutes before ten o'clock.