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I am also a bit concerned about some of the other posts that might be included in the Bill. Some of these posts are not well paid and the people applying for them may find it quite difficult to move or to go elsewhere to get those jobs. I do not accept the arguments that this is going to mean that thousands more teachers are going to be discriminated against. But we are nothing if not consistent on these Benches and when the School Standards and Framework Act came before Parliament in 1998, we sought to delete Sections 58 and 60, which brought in these quotas in the first place. We are against these quotas and we continue to be so. Just because this changes the quotas, that does not make them any more acceptable to these Benches.

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I appreciate the strength of feeling of my noble friends against faith schools generally. That is a perfectly proper view for them to hold and I respect it. With respect, however, I point out that they have hugely exaggerated the impact of

30 Oct 2006 : Column 58

these amendments. I hope I may explain how, but it is simply not correct that there has not been consultation.

Voluntary-controlled schools are religious schools. They are schools which are maintained almost entirely by the Church of England because of their faith character. The issue at stake is a legal uncertainty about whether the head teacher of schools that are already Church of England religious schools can or cannot be appointed with reference to a faith requirement. As the right reverend Prelate said, it appears that it is possible to do that at the moment but it is not absolutely clear. This amendment clarifies the fact that a Church of England voluntary-controlled school is actually able to appoint its head teacher to maintain the ethos of the school.

However, even under this amendment, and this is at the discretion of the governing body—of course the governing body will make a decision about whether this is going to lead to a dearth of candidates—it is highly unlikely that a governing body is going to pass over an outstanding candidate because of the faith requirement if they believe that the need could be met in a different way. The amendment allows only heads to be reserved teachers, even in voluntary-controlled schools, where they also teach religious education, which particularly meets the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, who said she could accept that there would be a case for it where these teachers in question teach religious education, but not beyond.

It is specifically because of that factor that we allow these reserved posts to come about. The case which has been made to us particularly applies to primary schools because a large proportion of voluntary-controlled schools are primary schools. Not having this flexibility at the moment is making it difficult for small primary schools, which are a large proportion of voluntary-controlled schools, to adequately arrange their teaching staff to ensure that they have sufficient teachers who can maintain the ethos of the school and teach religious education in those schools.

To reiterate the point of the right reverend Prelate: if a school chooses to appoint the head teacher as a reserved teacher, this appointment will count towards the one-fifth of the teaching staff who are already permitted to be appointed as reserved teachers under the 1998 Act. I know the noble Baroness does not approve the 20 per cent requirement at the moment but this does not expand that requirement at all.

I believe that this is a modest amendment which clarifies the existing law in respect of faith schools. There is no great plot here to introduce faith requirements for the head teachers of other schools. I would also like to stress that our proposal will include transitional provisions in the commencement order for Clause 37 to provide that the change to Section 60(6) will not take effect for any non-teaching staff in post at the date of commencement. The unamended Section 60(6) will continue to apply to such staff, and also to head teachers who are in post at the moment.

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The other amendments that I have tabled refer to staff other than teachers to whom it is now permissible to apply a faith test. The case for those amendments is very simple. Since the 1998 Act, particularly in the past two or three years, there has been substantial reform of the workforce in schools to provide for many more support staff and to encourage schools to diversify their workforce so that a wider range of staff can carry out the wider range of activities that we want to see. That includes, not least, the Every Child Matters type of agenda, which will require pastoral staff and all kinds of other support staff. We also need staff to carry out the clerical and administrative jobs that have hamstrung teachers for too long.

As those reforms have taken place, we have been concerned to ensure that voluntary-aided schools are not unduly restricted in their capacity to use a religious test in appointing support staff who have a pastoral mission directly related to the school ethos, in exactly the same way as they can appoint teachers.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, does the Minister not accept that schools can very easily implement the greater flexibilities of the workforce agreement without restricting such posts to members of staff of a particular faith?

Lord Adonis: No, my Lords, I will not. It is perfectly reasonable for a school to believe that pastoral duties should be conducted by a member of a particular faith, but under the law at the moment it can impose that requirement only if the member of staff is a qualified teacher and not support staff. That is ridiculous inflexibility because it does not restrict the right of faith schools to discriminate; it simply says that they can discriminate only in favour of teachers.

The amendments would enable voluntary-aided schools to take advantage of the wider workforce reforms that enable support staff to play a bigger role, and to apply the same test to them. But the crucial point is that schools must do so only where they believe there is a genuine occupational requirement.

Lord Peston: My Lords, the phrase “genuine occupational requirement” is precisely what I was asking the noble Lord about. Let me give an example. Regrettably, there is a need for remedial English teaching in some secondary schools, which will undoubtedly involve assistants. Will it be legal to bring to bear a person’s faith in deciding whether to appoint them as an assistant? The noble Lord has not answered me with a straight yes or no.

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I cannot say yes or no, because it would depend on the individual job description.

Lord Peston: My Lords, there is no difficulty with a job description for remedial English teaching: it is to help children learn English. What does that have to do with a person’s religion?

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Lord Adonis: My Lords, it is quite common for schools to appoint people with multiple responsibilities, as the noble Lord will know when he visits schools. However, to exercise this power, there must be a genuine occupational requirement.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked about consultation. We consulted our social partners some time ago through the workforce agreement monitoring group, which includes the NASUWT, the Association of School and College Leaders, the ATL, the PAT, the GMB, Unison and the T&G. The official who services that group sent me an account of its meeting last Thursday and the previous meeting during which it discussed the issue. I shall read it out so that the noble Lord can see that there has been full consultation:

in the media, following the campaign against this proposal, to which my noble friend referred—

That is the reality. I invite the House to stand by these changes.

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response but I am not entirely happy about it, and other noble Lords have also raised questions. In particular, I cannot see why there seems to be an acceptance that it would be possible to exclude very good head teacher candidates on the basis that they were not of a particular faith. We want head teachers with ability and the necessary professional qualification rather than their necessarily always having the religious one. I am not convinced by the Minister’s response that that would always be the case.

There is a great deal of legal uncertainty about the term “genuine occupational requirement”. It seems that in plenty of cases there would be a reclassification which would have to be tested at an employment tribunal, and perhaps beyond, because the individuals concerned would be relying on the EU non-discrimination requirements and so on. All that would impose on individuals a great deal of difficulty and expense.

I am surprised at the Minister’s remarks about the unions. The information I have had over the weekend is that there is a great deal of concern about the amendments to Clause 37. I quoted the general-secretary’s remark that there could well be a “crisis situation” because of a shortage of appropriate and suitably qualified applicants for head teacher posts. He asked whether the Government understood that the amendments to Clause 37 would make the situation that much more difficult. In addition, I understand that the GMB is very concerned about the pressure that will be exerted on non-teachers.

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I am not terribly satisfied about what has been said this afternoon—so much so that I feel inclined to test the opinion of the House.

6.17 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 78; Not-Contents, 175.

Division No. 3


Addington, L.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Billingham, B.
Blood, B.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Bradshaw, L.
Broers, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Chidgey, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Cotter, L.
David, B. [Teller]
Dykes, L.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Flather, B.
Garden, L.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Greaves, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hooson, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lipsey, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lockwood, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E. [Teller]
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Neuberger, B.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Paisley of St George's, B.
Patel, L.
Peston, L.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stern, B.
Taverne, L.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomas of Winchester, B.
Tonge, B.
Tope, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Tyler, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.


Acton, L.
Adams of Craigielea, B.
Adonis, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alli, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Amos, B. [Lord President.]
Ampthill, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Armstrong of Ilminster, L.
Ashcroft, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Bilston, L.
Bowness, L.
Boyd of Duncansby, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.

30 Oct 2006 : Column 62

Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Crawley, B. [Teller]
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Davidson of Glen Clova, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dearing, L.
Denham, L.
Desai, L.
Drayson, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Feldman, L.
Filkin, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Fookes, B.
Ford, B.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Giddens, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Brookwood, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Hastings of Scarisbrick, L.
Haworth, L.
Henig, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howe, E.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inglewood, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jones, L.
Jones of Whitchurch, B.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kingsland, L.
Levy, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Luke, L.
McDonagh, B.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Marland, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mitchell, L.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Moonie, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Moser, L.
Murphy, B.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbourne, L.
O'Cathain, B.
O'Neill of Bengarve, B.
Onslow, E.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Patten, L.
Pendry, L.
Peterborough, Bp.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Radice, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Reay, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rogan, L.
Rooker, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sewel, L.
Sheikh, L.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Skidelsky, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Finsbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Snape, L.
Soley, L.
Stewartby, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Taylor of Holbeach, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tenby, V.
Tomlinson, L.
Triesman, L.
Truscott, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turnberg, L.
Verma, B.
Waddington, L.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Warner, L.
Warnock, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Winston, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

30 Oct 2006 : Column 63

6.28 pm

[Amendment No. 6 not moved.]

Clause 38 [General duties of governing body of maintained school]:

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood moved Amendment No. 7:

(a) promote the well-being of pupils at the school, and (b) in the case of a school in England, promote community cohesion.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Adonis moved Amendment No. 8:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am pleased to bring these amendments to your Lordships’ House. At Report, in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and my noble friend Lady Morris, I undertook to consider further how we might address the role of schools in promoting pupil well-being. This includes, among other things, their responsibility to deal with bullying and other bad behaviour by members of the school community. When we first considered this amendment in Committee, we said that we were concerned about placing statutory duties where levers already exist. We argued that Ofsted already inspects schools, using a framework that requires consideration of the delivery of the five outcomes in Every Child Matters, and that school improvement partners would also support and challenge schools on their contribution to the five outcomes.

However, following the extremely productive debate we had on Report, with excellent contributions from many noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and my noble friend Lady Morris, I was persuaded that there is real value in sending a message to teachers and other professionals working with children that raising educational standards and promoting pupil well-being are mutually reinforcing. Stating unambiguously in primary legislation that school governing bodies have a clear duty to promote well-being will help to speed the delivery of the undoubted premium on school standards that arises from the improved well-being of pupils. For all those reasons, we are glad to bring these amendments forward. I beg to move.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I rise with great pleasure to welcome this pair of amendments, along with Amendment No. 7 which goes with them. At the risk of sounding a little ungracious, perhaps I may say that they have been a long time coming because they result not just from our debates on bullying and other issues related to well-being in the current Bill, but right back to the yawning gap left in the Children Act 2004 when Members on these Benches tried to ensure that schools were not just inspected on the extent to

30 Oct 2006 : Column 64

which they contributed to the well-being of the child, but that they had such a duty in the first place. I think that all noble Lords have accepted the importance of the well-being of the child as a factor in how well that child will do in his education, and that these amendments will fill that gap.

On Report, in hinting that he was about to bring these amendments forward, the Minister said that he felt they would meet my concerns on the issue of bullying—and they do to a great extent, but not completely. That is not to say that I do not welcome them—I do. But I should like to explain what I mean.

The amendments refer to the well-being of children. In my speech on Report, I said that I felt that the references to bullying already set out in the Bill are not sufficient because they focus on the school’s behaviour policies in relation only to children, but that what is needed is a set of policies that would affect the whole school’s ethos and the whole school community—adults and children alike—to generate a climate of mutual respect between children and other children, adults and other adults, and adults and children.

There is an issue that I should like to bring to the Minister’s attention concerning the modern technology that allows short video clips to be posted on the internet, particularly on a website called YouTube. I understand that it is being used to bully teachers. Children are bullying teachers by taking pictures of them without their permission, sometimes in not very flattering situations or when they are actually being abused by the children, and putting them up on the internet along with some very derogatory personal comments. This includes the homophobic bullying of teachers by children.

Although I warmly welcome this group of amendments and what they do in relation to children, they do not cover some of my concerns about adults who work in a school. If one adult bullies another adult, disciplinary measures may be taken concerning the standards of the adult’s behaviour. However, those professional disciplinary measures do not apply to a child. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us in responding to these concerns what might be done to encourage schools to generate a climate of mutual respect so that this sort of thing does not happen again. I am not asking the Minister to ban it. We can ban far too many things, and a ban on something to do with the internet is completely unworkable. But I would like to hear the Minister’s thoughts on what can be done about this serious and important issue.

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