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Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.55 p.m.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.53 to 8.55 p.m.]

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Teaching and Higher Education Bill [H.L.]

House again in Committee.

Clause 2 [Advisory functions of the Council]:

[Amendments Nos. 29 to 39 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 2, line 38, at end insert--
("( ) The Secretary of State shall publish a response to published advice given by the Council under this section and shall give reasons if he intends not to act on that advice.").

The noble Baroness said: My noble friend Lord Pilkington is not here, but I know that he planned to say that he was disappointed with the Minister's reply on this point. It seems to us that if the Secretary of State responds to advice that he has either requested from the council or that the council has proffered, on a matter relating to teachers, the professional standards of teaching, or whatever, his response to that advice should be published. We accept the Minister's answer that it is likely that he would do so anyway, but it is not every Secretary of State who publishes every response. Because this is a body which is accountable to its membership, it is important that the membership at large, not just the council itself, should learn of the Secretary of State's response to it. We believe that there is an argument for the response to be published. So we would wish to press the amendment, but at a later stage. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: I have nothing to add to what I have already said on this amendment.

Baroness Blatch: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 41 not moved.]

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3: [Registration of teachers]:

[Amendments Nos. 42 and 43 not moved.]

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 3, line 6, at end insert (", and
(c) has met any other requirements of eligibility for registration determined and published by the Council.").

The noble Baroness said: Amendments Nos. 44, 45 and 57 are included in this group of amendments. The purpose of Amendment No. 44 is to give the GTC the option of introducing additional criteria, with the agreement of its membership, which teachers must meet in order to be eligible for membership of that body. The GTC is, in the words of the Minister for School Standards, intended to give "a clear professional voice" to teachers who

    "for too long have had too little say in determining the shape and future of their profession".

That is why the Bill gives the GTC advisory functions in respect of standards of teaching, standards of conduct, training, and career development. The amendment gives

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the GTC the option to introduce additional criteria for membership, as it develops a clear and considered view of teacher professionalism. Such criteria might include, for example, a requirement on members to undertake approved programmes of continuing professional development, or to abide by a code of professional conduct, devised and agreed by members.

I turn to Amendment No. 45, the purpose of which is to allow for a category of professional GTC membership for those who have successfully completed their initial teacher training education, but whose qualified teacher status is pending the successful completion of the induction period.

Clause 4(2)(e) already allows for the division of the register into separate parts. One possible use of such a provision is to allow for those serving their induction period to be granted a form of provisional professional membership. The creation of a category of membership for teachers in their induction period would have a number of advantages. First, it would be in keeping with the requirement that those employed as teachers in the maintained sector, as defined elsewhere in the Bill, must be members of the GTC register.

Secondly, it would clarify that the new induction arrangements propose, not the conferment but the confirmation of qualified teacher status at the end of a successfully completed period of professional practice. That is an important distinction for the maintenance of high national professional standards, because the successful completion of an accredited programme of initial teacher training education therefore remains the basis for the award of QTS. Newly qualified teachers would therefore receive confirmation of professional membership when their qualified teacher status had been confirmed.

Thirdly, it would secure the involvement of newly qualified teachers in the work of the GTC--that is important--covering a wide range of professional matters which have an impact on those serving their induction period--matters upon which those embarking upon their teaching careers deserve a voice. This is an important amendment. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to sympathise with it.

The next amendment to which my name is attached is Amendment No. 47, which is an amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington. It applies to Clause 4, "Regulations relating to registration", and deletes Clause 4(2)(c), which provides:

    "the registration, on the establishment of the register, of persons who have not made such applications".

I want to know why we have that subsection in Clause 4.

My final amendment in the group is Amendment No. 57, which is slightly different. It is to clarify that those teachers working in a pupil referral unit, hospital teachers, and so on, are eligible for, or subject to the requirement to take up membership of the GTC. Pupils in the maintained sector, wherever they are learning, should be entitled to professional teaching. This probing amendment seeks clarification that teachers working in pupil referral units, hospital tuition, or other off-site

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education provision, will have the same relationship with the GTC as their counterparts in schools. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: I wish to refer to Amendment No. 47 and to the Question whether Clause 9 shall stand part of the Bill. There is an inconsistency in the wording of the Bill. Perhaps the Committee will look at Clause 3(2), which reads:

    "The register shall contain the name of every person who is eligible for registration and applies to be registered in the register in accordance with regulations made under section 4".

I assume that every person who is eligible for registration and who applies shall be registered. Therefore, if everyone has to register, that provision is superfluous. Can it be that there will be people who are eligible to register, who are required to register but who do not register? How does that fit with Clause 4(2)(c), which states:

    "Regulations under this section may, in particular, make provision as to... the registration, on the establishment of the register, of persons who have not made such applications"?

I am not sure how those two provisions fit together. On the one hand, we are saying that registration is compulsory. On the other hand, a register is being kept of people who do not make application: there is a requirement to record in a register the names of those who do not apply. Amendment No. 47 poses the question: is Clause 4(2)(c) superfluous, or is there a meaning that is deluding me? I should be grateful for clarification.

The Question of whether a clause shall stand part of the Bill is traditionally used in this House as a mechanism for eliciting more information. However, I am not entirely confident that we shall receive much more information. If the earlier part of our proceedings is any indication I shall probably go away empty handed. From all that I have read about the GTC, I understand that it will be set up as a body to advise only, with no powers of regulation over the teaching profession, and that membership will be compulsory.

Furthermore, from what the Minister has repeated several times today, I understand that one of the reasons why we have before us a Bill which gives us no detail whatever--detailed consultation will follow which may modify the Government's thinking about what to do, excluding the possibility of a body with powers--is that it is difficult to find a place in the legislative programme. As a former Minister I spent many hours trying to get our Bills into the programme but with no success.

However, the noble Baroness went on to say that the body would develop and over time become independent and receive powers of the kind codified in the amendments tabled today. That will be dealt with by primary legislation in the next Parliament. If the intention is that it will be the kind of body sought by the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, and that there is to be a long process of consultation, would it not be better to abandon this skeletal outline Bill and go through the process of consultation? I and other Members who have received information from teachers about what they want from a GTC know that the teachers will say

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unequivocally to the Government that they want a body with powers. It is crazy to have a Bill with no detail, a consultation process followed by a great deal of disquiet about another body which will be set up and then another Bill before Parliament changing the nature of the body to coincide with what people want. That is one reason why I believe that Clause 9 must be called into question.

The noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, made the point about the body having no say over suspension and dismissals. That is extraordinary in the sense that if the GTC is to be set up with the idea that it should represent teachers and have a view about discipline, conduct, professionalism and standards without being able to advise on suspensions and dismissals, the teachers will question that body most strongly.

That leads me to my final point. How can it be that teachers are to be compelled to pay a subscription to fund a body which is to be merely an advisory body and a talking shop? If the Government intend to have two attempts at the legislation--one now and one later-- I suggest that it would make more sense not to make membership compulsory in the first instance. However, when it receives powers in relation to entry to the profession, recruitment, promoting teaching as a profession and all the measures included in the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, and the noble Lord, Lord Tope, only then would it be fair to compel teachers to pay a subscription to a body which will serve their interests. That will not be the case if the body is merely a talking shop.

Therefore, I am trying to elicit more information from the Minister as to why membership will be compulsory for teachers. They will not wish to pay for a body which will not do what they want it to do. The Government will not even accept amendments which provide that when the Secretary of State responds to the GTC's advice, that information should be published.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty: There are a large number of amendments in this group. The amendments in the name of my noble friend Lady David are largely in line with our intentions but are, I would argue, unnecessary additions to the Bill. Other amendments would undermine the effectiveness of the registration. I believe all sides of the Committee, teachers and certainly most people in the world of education wish to see an effective system of registration.

Amendment No. 44 seeks to provide extra qualifications for registration. The criteria for registration are already rigorous. They are: first, having a qualified teacher status, with all that that implies under the Government's new requirements; secondly, not having been debarred; and thirdly, payment of a registration fee. We should not envisage that the council should have powers to extend those three central requirements. The new qualified teacher status requirements were the product of fairly wide consultation and have been broadly accepted. They cover matters ranging from the ability to establish and maintain discipline through to the qualifications for

20 Jan 1998 : Column 1471

teaching subjects. Similarly, as the document which was placed in the Library makes clear, we intend that the standards for induction will be the subject of wide consultation with the GTC and others.

That does not mean that the GTC has nothing to say about those matters. It will have a say in how induction is operated. Once it is established, the GTC will offer advice on areas where the qualified teacher status standards should be further clarified or extended. That advice would certainly carry great weight. But that is within the existing three requirements. I do not believe that it is desirable to impose additional primary requirements beyond those already provided at this stage.

As regards Amendment No. 45 in the name of my noble friend Lady David, the regulations under Clause 4(2)(e) already allow for the division of a register into separate parts. It is the Government's intention, subject to whatever emerges from the consultation, that teachers undertaking an induction year should be entered into a separate part of the register. Therefore, we entirely share the intentions underlying that amendment and agree with much of what my noble friend said. However, we do not believe that that needs to be set out in primary legislation. The regulations will be drawn up in conjunction with those regulations which govern induction under Clause 13 of the Bill.

As regards Amendment No. 47, which was spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and my noble friend Lady David, there is a perhaps understandable bafflement in relation to what the clause is intended to provide. However, it is fairly simple. The intention is that it will enable all serving teachers in maintained schools and special non-maintained schools to be registered automatically with the GTC at the point where the register is established. Removal of that paragraph would place an enormous burden on the GTC as regards cost. It would also be a time-consuming exercise if we had to require the GTC to go out and seek applications from almost half a million existing qualified teachers. So teachers will be automatically registered; that is what the clause is intended to do. It may not be all that apparent from the wording, but that is the intention. I hope that Members of the Committee will appreciate that fact and realise that there is no need for amendment. As I said, removal would cause a major problem.

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