Previous Section Index Home Page

It also states, in paragraph 5.14:

As an example of home school agreements that work, the White Paper draws attention to Oulton Broad primary school in Suffolk. It says:

That is so important in an age when people are prepared to bleat about their rights, but have little regard to their responsibilities, still less their duties.

It is in a spirit of consensus and co-operation, and of wanting to improve discipline in schools, that we suggest these improvements to the Bill to enable the Government to achieve those objectives.

23 May 2006 : Column 1442

Sarah Teather: We discussed this matter in Committee, when it was noted that many people—such as those who cannot read and write, and those who do not speak English as a first language—would find it difficult to sign a home-school contract or agreement. Has the hon. Gentleman taken that into account in his new amendments?

Mr. Hayes: The hon. Lady, and the whole House, will know that the protection of the vulnerable is always my top priority. I would not want to disadvantage any group of people who find it difficult to understand what is required of them, but I am sure that any good school or reasonable governing body would put in place measures to allow those who are illiterate or unable to speak fluent English to participate in the school’s life. In that way, such people could understand and agree to their responsibilities in respect of pupils.

The hon. Member for Brent, East (Sarah Teather) is right that we need to be sensitive about this matter and that it needs to be handed with appropriate care, but that is no reason to vote against the new clause. Given the spirit of consensus that has emerged in the course of consideration of the Bill, I hope that she will join us in fighting for good discipline in schools, and that she will support our teachers, and good teaching and learning.

Good discipline is vital in school, but in a minority of schools and classrooms, discipline is in a state of crisis. Teachers and learners face real problems; it is estimated that 270 serious assaults are carried out on teachers every year. More than 60 children are suspended or expelled for violent behaviour every day in London schools, according to an investigation conducted in 2005 by the Evening Standard—[Interruption.] I am sorry that the hon. Member for Hove (Ms Barlow) seems to make light of a problem that has such an effect on the life of schools, the progress of other learners and the morale of teachers. It is the responsibility of all hon. Members to stand by those whose lives are being made a misery by the small minority of people who are determined to disrupt good practice in our schools. The Government have recognised that, in the White Paper and in the Bill, and have introduced measures to give additional protection to schools.

The hon. Member for Brent, East has also tabled important amendments in this group that deal with confiscation. She recognises that teachers should be able to confiscate items such as mobile phones, which can cause immense difficulty. More seriously, they should be able to confiscate objects that are weapons or could be used as weapons.

It is sad that violence is on the increase in a minority of schools and classrooms, but we must not deny that most schools in this country do a great job. We should celebrate the work of our teachers accordingly, but it would be irresponsible of us not to deal with the real problems of violence and indiscipline that permeate too many schools.

It is therefore vital that we enforce home-school contracts and link them to discipline and pupils’ expectations. If pupils know what is expected of them and the conditions attached to their attendance as soon
23 May 2006 : Column 1443
as they join a school community, there will be little doubt about their responsibilities should problems arise later on.

Sir Alan Steer, the head teacher of Seven Kings high school in Ilford, was appointed by the Government to report on these matters. He said that schools should be “comfortable, warm, sociable places”. To achieve that, we must get the right balance between discipline and security, so that students can enjoy the freedoms that they want, in the proper school atmosphere.

Mr. Andrew Turner: Does my hon. Friend think that the Bill deals adequately with the case not of sex offenders who might or might not be employed in schools, but of sex offenders who may be pupils? Will it protect other pupils from such offending pupils?

Mr. Hayes: My hon. Friend has great knowledge of educational affairs, on which he always speaks with great authority, and he is an immense champion of the interests of the people of the Isle of Wight. He is right to point out that offences such as he describes can not only disrupt the life of a school but ruin individual lives—they can be committed pupil against pupil as well as teacher against pupil. The new clause and this group of amendments do not deal with those specifics, and if I were to stray into them I have no doubt that you would call me to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, my hon. Friend is right to suggest that when creating a disciplined environment in schools and setting out pupils’ responsibilities and expectations such issues should be addressed. I have no doubt that in the Minister’s expansive response to this short debate he will want to comment on that matter and to refer to some of the detailed measures that the Government propose for guidance in addressing it.

Throughout our consideration of the Bill, the Opposition have done the right thing, because we believe that for the most part the Government have done the right thing. That is good, responsible opposition—but it is also responsible opposition to challenge the Government and to try to improve legislation when it comes before the House. In my judgment, and in the judgment of teachers, learners, parents and families throughout the country, the amendments would improve the Bill still further, and in that spirit I commend them to the House.

Sarah Teather: With an eye on the time, I shall simply say that I would like to take up further aspects of new clause 72 with the Minister in writing, because we were not happy with the answer he gave us in Committee. If the Conservatives push new clause 2 to a vote we shall oppose it. I shall now let the Minister respond, in the three minutes that the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) has left him.

Jim Knight: I am grateful to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Sarah Teather) for indicating that she wants to take up new clause 72 in writing, which is what I wanted to do anyway.

New clauses 2 and 10 would prevent a child from being admitted to a school if the parents were unable or unwilling to sign a home-school agreement. We agree that home-school agreements are an important tool in maintaining discipline and improving behaviour in schools,
23 May 2006 : Column 1444
but we fundamentally disagree with the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) on the issue.

In Committee, it was clear that Members making that proposal believed that if parents declined to sign a home-school agreement their child should be refused admission to a school. I cannot accept a provision that would penalise a child by refusing them access to a school because their parents had not signed a document stating that they agreed with its rules and ethos. It is much better for discussion about home-school agreements to take place after the offer of a school place has been accepted; whether a parent signs the agreement should have no bearing on the security of a child’s place.

I am also concerned that allowing some schools to make signing a home-school agreement compulsory could discourage some parents from applying to those schools. Such a scheme is best undertaken as part of the process of building a positive relationship between the school and family when parents know that their child will be attending the school in question. We have no wish to see home-school agreements used as another means whereby schools can select pupils, so I invite the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the new clause.

Mr. Hayes: The hon. Gentleman has just told the House that he thinks people should go to schools without agreeing to their rules and respecting their authority, because they are not prepared to sign up to the ethos of the school. That is nonsense, as he must know. He is sending the message that he does not really care about discipline as much as he pretends. That is not a good message and it is not one that teachers or learners will welcome. Parents up and down the country will be very disappointed with him.

Jim Knight: The hon. Gentleman knows well, as will any Member who chooses to read the Hansard report of the full arguments in Committee, how seriously the Government take discipline in schools. That is demonstrated by all the measures on discipline in the Bill, which will really move things forward so that every child in the country can have a secure experience of school. Those powers will liberate teachers to exercise discipline without having to resort to common law. I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his new clause—

It being Ten o’clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [this day].

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 166, Noes 372.
Division No. 249]
[10 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory

Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duncan, Mr. Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Paice, Mr. James
Paisley, rh Rev. Ian
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Ruffley, Mr. David
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann

Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. David Evennett and
Mr. Henry Bellingham

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, Danny
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brooke, Annette
Brown, rh Mr. Gordon
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter

Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Heath, Mr. David
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Ann
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John

Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Tami, Mark
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Thurso, John
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Steve McCabe and
Liz Blackman
Question accordingly negatived.
23 May 2006 : Column 1445

23 May 2006 : Column 1446

23 May 2006 : Column 1447

Next Section Index Home Page