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Mr. Boswell : In that case, it will depend on the decisions of the Teacher Training Agency.

The other points of substance raised by the hon. Member for Oldham, . Central and Royton related to anecdotes about plagiarisation. I am sure that the TTA and accredited courses will pick that up. They also related to the international validity of courses.

I remind the House that the accreditation of such courses, if they are school-centred, operates on precisely the same basis as those that are higher education institution led. The accreditation process, the quality criteria and competencies derived from the Secretary of State's criteria will be exactly the same. There is no reason why they should not be equally acceptable. Given the quality of delivery in school-centred initial teacher training so far, there is every reason to believe that they will be in excellent demand.

I should like to consider the substance of the Opposition's case for one last time. As the hon. Member for Oldham, Central and Royton said, that case centres on amendment No. 3, which provides that schools can be funded only if they operate in partnership with a higher education institution.

Perhaps at this point I can deal with the situation in Northern Ireland. Leaving aside the perfectly reasonable point that it is for the constituent parts of the United Kingdom to determine exactly how to run their own separate education systems, I should record for the benefit of the House that I am advised that, at the moment, higher education is the sole provider of initial teacher training in Northern Ireland. As it has not even embarked on partnership schemes, it is perhaps a little behind our practice in England where partnerships are already a reality. For higher education in Northern Ireland to call for partnerships is to invite its provisions to move towards the position we already enjoy.

The Government simply cannot accept the Opposition's view that prescribing in law that a partnership between schools and higher education is essential would be the right

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way forward. That would place schools in a subordinate relationship. It would not provide them with an equal and influential part in provision.

Validation is a simpler concept than partnership. However, we would not have thought so because it took the Opposition rather a long time to discover what it means and to realise that that was what they were talking about, rather than accreditation. However, I do not want to chop words with the Opposition at this stage.

Imposing validation requirements would be just as unacceptable as imposing partnership requirements. The essential requirement is to have accreditation. That is what will deliver quality in school-centred courses as it will equally, and on all fours, deliver it in higher education led courses. Validation will add no essential ingredient. I will disabuse the hon. Member for Oldham, Central and Royton about his reference to a hidden agenda. The only disguised purpose of validation would be to allow higher education institutions a power to refuse to co-operate. It would therefore keep them in control and, in effect, would abort or frustrate the wishes of school-centred consortiums to move forward.

That brings me to the central issue of quality. The agency will be a funding body. It will exercise its direction and control through funding. In doing so, it will operate according to the objectives set out in clause 1 which I hope are uncontentious. It will have regard to the criteria set out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the kind of teachers we wish to come out of initial teacher training and teacher education.

Directly as a result of that and in the light of those considerations, the agency will accredit those who provide training in HE and school-centred courses. In doing that, and recalling the extremely helpful debate that we had earlier, the agency will be informed by impartial inspection advice from the Office for Standards in Education about quality. That advice will underpin its funding decisions. It will, therefore, be a vital new guardian of standards in both HE and school-centred courses. Right across the piece, our determination is to achieve quality.

In inviting the Opposition to consider whether they wish to press the amendments, I said earlier that I felt their underlying concern must be one for continuing higher education provision. The hon. Member for Oldham, Central and Royton went on in a rather windy way to talk about our hidden agenda. As the Minister responsible for further and higher education, I believe that the Opposition do not need to fear for the future of higher education institutions. Although the hon. Member for Oldham, Central and Royton did not recognise this fact, more than two thirds of students in teacher education are now on undergraduate BEd courses. The hon. Gentleman will know that they cannot become school-centred under the Bill. Equally, the Bill does not prevent or preclude universities and colleges of education from offering postgraduate training. Equally, it does not make any schools run training courses ; it does not prescribe that they may not involve higher education in the training courses that they and their consortia put together. Clearly, as we emphasised many times in Committee, it will be desirable for them to consider whether to do so, and they will often wish to do so, but it should be a decision for them, just as it should be a decision by the agency, whether to accredit what they do.

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We must emphasise, because it is central to our intentions to secure quality in teacher education and to the principles of diversity in choice, that those are and should remain entirely voluntary decisions. We believe in giving schools more freedom to put together those consortia and to provide those courses. It is, frankly, the Opposition who want to fetter them, and if they persist in pressing their amendments, I shall have to invite my hon. Friends to reject them.

Mr. Bryan Davies : In view of that wholly unsatisfactory reply, we intend to press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made :

The House divided : Ayes 255, Noes 295.

Division No. 287] [7.10 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene

Ainger, Nick

Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)

Allen, Graham

Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)

Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Ashton, Joe

Barnes, Harry

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret

Beith, Rt Hon A. J.

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, Andrew F.

Benton, Joe

Bermingham, Gerald

Berry, Roger

Betts, Clive

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Canavan, Dennis

Cann, Jamie

Chidgey, David

Chisholm, Malcolm

Church, Judith

Clapham, Michael

Clark, Dr David (South Shields)

Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Coffey, Ann

Cohen, Harry

Connarty, Michael

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Corston, Ms Jean

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John

Dafis, Cynog

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)

Denham, John

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Donohoe, Brian H.

Dowd, Jim

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth

Eastham, Ken

Enright, Derek

Etherington, Bill

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Fatchett, Derek

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Fisher, Mark

Flynn, Paul

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Foster, Don (Bath)

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galloway, George

Gapes, Mike

Gerrard, Neil

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Godsiff, Roger

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Gunnell, John

Hall, Mike

Hanson, David

Harman, Ms Harriet

Harvey, Nick

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Henderson, Doug

Heppell, John

Hill, Keith (Streatham)

Hinchliffe, David

Hodge, Margaret

Hoey, Kate

Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)

Home Robertson, John

Hood, Jimmy

Hoon, Geoffrey

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

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