Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness David: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister will reply to one question before I decide what to do about the amendment. He said that guidance will be issued. Can he explain exactly what that guidance will say?

Lord Henley: My Lords, at this stage I am unable to do so. As I have made clear, we will be publishing guidance in the summer. It will be guidance for the governors to make sure that they are totally clear about what is expected.

Baroness David: My Lords, I must confess that I am disappointed with the Minister's reply. I do not believe that he realises that the situation is changing all the time and that more children are being put into

9 Jul 1996 : Column 228

reception classes. He said that the situation is reasonable, manageable and safe. The regulations have been changed. If there is a teacher without an assistant--and there is no guarantee that there will be an assistant--the situation may not be safe with all those children in a reception class.

Surely the quality of the provision is important. There is no guarantee that the quality will be good. Children with special educational needs may not be recognised in a large class. It is essential to have a teacher with a clear knowledge of the special needs and how they can be met. In a large class it will be extremely difficult to recognise the child who is failing and needs the special attention which otherwise would not be obtained.

The Minister quoted various figures--54 per cent. and 26 per cent. There are still 24 per cent. of classes with large numbers. He also stated that in 80 per cent. of classes the work is satisfactory. That means that in 20 per cent. it is not satisfactory.

I must confess that I am not satisfied with the Minister's answer. The amendment is important for the quality of education and I wish to test the opinion of the House.

6.28 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 8) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 65; Not-Contents, 146.

Division No. 2


Acton, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Barnett, L.
Berkeley, L.
Borrie, L.
Broadbridge, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B.
David, B. [Teller.]
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes, L.
Hylton, L.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Lockwood, B.
McGregor of Durris, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McNally, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Nicol, B.
Palmer, L.
Peston, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Ripon, Bp.
Russell, E.
Sandwich, E.
Seear, B.
Shepherd, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tonypandy, V.
Tope, L. [Teller.]
Tordoff, L.
Warnock, B.
Whaddon, L.
Wharton, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Winston, L.


Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldington, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Balfour, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Biddulph, L.
Birdwood, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Blyth, L.
Bowness, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brentford, V.
Brookes, L.
Burnham, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Carr of Hadley, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Clanwilliam, E.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L.
Colwyn, L.
Courtown, E.
Cox, B.
Cross, V.
Cumberlege, B.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dilhorne, V.
Downshire, M.
Dudley, E.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gainsborough, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gisborough, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L.
Hamilton of Dalzell, L.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Hardwicke, E.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Hertford, M.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Inglewood, L.
Jeffreys, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kitchener, E.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Lindsay, E.
Liverpool, E.
Long, V.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mackintosh of Halifax, V.
Marlesford, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Monson, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Norrie, L.
Northesk, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Oxfuird, V.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renwick, L.
Rippon of Hexham, L.
St. Davids, V.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Sandys, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Somerset, D.
Stewartby, L.
Strafford, E.
Strange, B.
Swansea, L.
Swinfen, L.
Swinton, E.
Teviot, L.
Teynham, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B. [Teller.]
Tugendhat, L.
Ullswater, V.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Whitelaw, V.
Wigram, L.
Wilcox, B.
Wise, L.
Wynford, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

9 Jul 1996 : Column 230

6.37 p.m.

Baroness Warnock moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 2, line 37, at end insert (", and
(c) shall prescribe the qualifications to be required of staff employed to teach children in respect of whom grant is made under section 1 above, which shall be reviewed annually by both Houses of Parliament").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the purpose of this amendment relates, to a certain extent, to something which follows on from the amendment which has just been voted on. There is no doubt that one of the main motives of government--a very admirable one--in promoting nursery education is to give the best possible chance not only to children with special educational needs, but to children whose needs may well be discovered only when they come into a nursery class, whether it be a playgroup or in a nursery school or, indeed, whether it is a reception class or a class in a primary school. We are asking that one of the requirements which may be laid on these classes is that a certain level of qualification should be held by the teachers in that class. The point of this requirement is largely so that such children may be identified. I have in mind here, as in the next amendment, those children whose needs are not already identified by medical or social services, but whose needs emerge only in the context of a classroom.

Of course, it would be wonderful if one could have in every nursery class at least one fully qualified nursery teacher with, among other qualifications, one which enabled him or her to identify special educational needs, but that would be asking far too much.

This amendment would require that, in order to qualify for a grant, teachers should have quite modest qualifications which, nevertheless, give them some knowledge of child development, even at quite ordinary and humdrum level. I am thinking of what used to be the NNEB qualification--the Nursery Nurses Education Board qualification--which was a qualification for nannies, for example, as well as nursery nurses. As I understand it, that qualification is to be changed for one which will have a greater educational component.

Then there are elements of the national vocational qualifications--NVQs at level 2 and level 3--which are connected with looking after children and which provide some knowledge as regards their development. It is hoped, ultimately, that there will be a national vocational qualification at level 4, which would be the equivalent of a teacher's qualification. That is the kind of qualification which it is thought not unreasonable to demand as a requirement for teachers in any kind of nursery class.

The second element of the suggested requirement is that the position should be reviewed every year because, over time, the level of the qualification might be raised. Similarly, perhaps money might be made available to enable people to acquire such qualifications. At present, there would obviously be a shortage of qualified people if one were to set the qualification at too high a level.

9 Jul 1996 : Column 231

My demands are modest. However, they would, nevertheless, ensure the ongoing improvement of the quality of provision which the Government intend to ensure. I repeat: without some knowledge of the normal development of a child, it would be extremely difficult for someone running a playgroup, a nursery class or indeed a reception class to pick out the level of performance in a child which might give cause for concern.

One of the very good things that we shall be discussing later is the exact way in which Part III of the code of practice--and, indeed, the code of practice as a whole--is to apply to nursery education. That part of the code makes it perfectly clear that the process of identification and the meeting of special needs starts with the classroom teacher. It is there that what is called "Stage 1" is, in the words of the code, "triggered"; in other words, a teacher notices that there is a failure to respond and to absorb the learning that the other children are absorbing.

Sometimes it is simply a matter of the withdrawal of the child altogether, or a case of him or her not joining in. Alternatively it can be a behavioural difficulty which makes it impossible for the child to join in with the other children and which may threaten the progress of the rest of the class. The ability to recognise those characteristics as not being just a passing phase--that is, not a case of the child "just being like that"--but as something which might give rise to concern and which might well be put right if specialised help were invoked, requires some training and, indeed, skills that not everyone possesses.

The situation is particularly difficult in the case of children aged three-plus, four or five. It is well known that children vary a good deal in the degree of their development; indeed, they vary in how far they progress at those ages. It is easy to write off an apparent eccentricity of a child, bad behaviour or failure to be able to concentrate as being a matter of, "Well, that is as far as that child has reached so far". As I said, we all know that children differ.

The ability to make assessments and recognise that it is more than that and say, "We must do something about this child", requires a degree of trained skill. That is why I believe it to be extremely important to have a requirement that some degree of training, however modest, should be available in the classroom before that classroom is the recipient of a grant through the voucher system. That is the whole point of the amendment. I beg to move.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness David: My Lords, I should like to support the amendment. Again, this is a very important amendment. Qualifications really make a difference. Qualified teachers can bring to the classroom intellectual inquiry and rigour which characterise high quality education. The demand that nursery teachers should be qualified to the same level as other teachers would give nursery education an appropriate and equal status with other areas in the education service. That equality of status is beneficial for children and other staff working with the under-fives. It is particularly important for children with special educational needs,

9 Jul 1996 : Column 232

where you desperately need qualified staff who will know how to deal with them and how to recognise them in the classroom.

Can the Minister say whether any of the money which is being put into the system at present is being used for training? It seems to me that an amendment of this nature would lead to more training and, therefore, more qualified staff, even if it were not a very high qualification to start with. At least it would encourage the pursuit of qualifications. I hope that the Minister will look kindly on the amendment and give us some encouragement in that respect.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page