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Earl Russell: I am extremely glad that my noble friends have put down the amendment. The general purpose of the amendment is clear and necessary. When I think of the Secretary of State controlling the flow of information to the council, I am reminded of something my stepmother used to say. "Whenever anyone says, 'We thought you ought to know', it is always bad news."

Lord Whitty: I understand the objective of the amendments but I believe that they are unnecessary. Clearly the Secretary of State will consult with the GTC before making any regulations which would require it to disclose any information to others. From the point of view of the Secretary of State and Government, it is also important that the council receives all the information that it requires.

It is essential that we maintain rigorous safeguards around who may or may not practise the profession of teaching, and this will ensure that these safeguards are not weakened by difficulties in transferring personal data. There are sensitive areas here, in particular where a person has been barred or where barring is being considered. It may, for example, become clear that the GTCs for England and Wales need to exchange information with their existing counterparts in Scotland and Wales. All that will be covered by regulations. We shall also be consulting the Data Protection Registrar on any proposed regulations.

I should like to emphasise that the clause expressly limits the supply of information between the GTCs and the Secretary of State to that which supports them in carrying out their respective functions. I must also emphasise that the GTCs and the Secretary of State would remain subject to data protection legislation.

I understand the concern that adequate information should be provided in both directions; but it is also important that sensitive information is not provided which would lead to access regarding individuals or the past careers of individuals. We therefore share the concern that information should not be transmitted more widely than is necessary. However, we will ensure that flows of information under the regulations will ensure that both the GTCs and the Secretary of State can carry out their functions.

Earl Russell: Before we leave this matter, Amendment No. 59 standing in my name is also in this group. Before turning to that amendment, is the effect of the clause as literal as it appears from the drafting--to forbid the general teaching council from gathering

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any information not supplied by the Secretary of State? I can hardly believe that that is literally the intention; or, if it were the intention, that it would be enforceable.

Amendment No. 59 bears on the second half of the clause: information which the principal may be required to supply to the Secretary of State. It puts a limit of relevance on such information--that such information shall be relevant to the organisation of the teaching profession and shall not infringe the privacy of any individual.

Information gathering is becoming one of the sicknesses of our society. We all know, especially when we are dealing with the press, that the press is capable of seeing a case for gathering practically any information under the sun. So also, on occasion, are those who gather information on behalf of the Security Services. There are two members of the present Government, incredible though it may seem, who have, I understand, been the subject of monitoring by the Security Services. It was entirely unjustified and totally absurd in both cases. But it does indicate that an appetite for official information may turn into all sorts of unlikely channels. If one looks at what has happened to the teaching profession in the United States, there may be all sorts of political, moral, religious and other inquisitions undertaken at some time in the future.

It would be much better if there were a provision equivalent to the public interest defence, a restriction of information to what is relevant to the serious purposes behind the Bill, to which I make no objection.

Lord Whitty: The noble Earl is perhaps conjuring up problems in relation to this clause which do not exist. As he acknowledges, the clause as it stands limits the flow of information to "relevant" information. Nowhere in that loop of information does it include the Security Services. I can assure him that there are certain Members of the Government who are extremely upset that they were never considered important enough to be under the surveillance of the Security Services. I do not think that those kinds of considerations are involved here. I believe the wording of the clause is tight enough. I will examine it again in the light of the issues raised, and will probably be reassured. I will take the precaution of looking at it again and, if necessary, come forward with a proposal at a later stage.

Baroness Maddock: I am very pleased to hear the answers to both my amendment and that of my noble friend. We may return to the matter at a later stage, and it may be that the Minister returns to it. If nothing is changed, I am afraid that only time will tell whether we are right to be concerned. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 59 not moved.]

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Qualifications of head teachers]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 60:

Page 7, line 15, leave out ("requiring") and insert ("encouraging").

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The noble Baroness said: There is widespread support for the principle of teachers being better trained and better prepared for headship. I do not want any of my remarks this evening to detract from the importance of that. I simply want to appeal to the Government on the issue of the compulsory nature of the qualification, at this stage, on the face of the Bill. I even appeal to the Government to consider the possibility of a two-stage approach--of leaving it as a voluntary matter for the time being until many of the problems that are being experienced at the moment have been dealt with. It has started very well, I think the noble Baroness will agree. There has been an evaluation and there are elements which are very promising, but there are also some worrying concerns. Perhaps I can refer to some which appear in the evaluation document.

Candidates expressed concern that the training was too academic--I would want to take issue with "academic"--and theoretical. They said that there should have been greater consistency and greater reliability between assessors. That is a very important issue when one is being assessed. Some candidates reported that they would have appreciated better guidance and help in forming their action plans as a result of the needs assessment. Again, there needs to be a real link there. It was said that training and development centres needed to take better account of action plans during training to cater for candidates' individual needs. In some regions a significant minority considered the organisation of training insufficiently well matched to ongoing individualised needs and phase interests.

The evaluation document goes on to say that, while others would have welcomed more support from their head teachers in schools, a number were not getting the support and were too nervous to ask for it because they were concerned about how busy their head teachers were. I have to say in parenthesis that no existing head teacher opposed his or her teachers going on these courses, but there was a tension about getting better support back at their home school. Candidates reported a need for support not just from their own head teacher at that time but for the duration of the course.

The final point I want to make on the evaluation so far is that some candidates commented that they experienced a negative effect when there was a lack of fit between their assessment tasks and school activities, and the training at weekends was a particular inhibitor for many people. It would be a great pity if good potential candidates for headships were inhibited from doing the training because they could not fit it in at weekends, as seems to be expected.

That is one reason why I believe that the compulsory nature of the training as set out in the Bill is worrying. The other reason is rather different. I use the Probation Service as an example here. Some noble Lords--there are not many here at the moment--may remember that when I was responsible for the Probation Service one of the reasons for re-organising the training for the service was that from time to time someone would come along who was so well qualified in almost every way but not completely consistent with the particular diploma that all members of the Probation Service were required to have. The irony of that situation was that it was a requirement

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for fully-fledged probation officers to have a social work diploma under CETSWA, yet fully-fledged social workers did not, under the law, have to have that particular qualification.

It must be possible for the teaching service itself to have sufficient confidence from time to time to be able to employ someone as a head teacher who is eminently qualified and a good person to appoint who will have no need to be sent off to do a course of training. We shall debate the duration of the course in subsequent amendments. I say this in the spirit of supporting the principle of better training and preparation. I should like to think that over time it will become the normal qualification, that people will take it in their stride as teachers come through and regard it as part of a progression from being a class teacher to being a head of department and then to becoming a head teacher. However, I think that to make it compulsory on the face of the Bill at this time is precipitate. I wonder whether the noble Baroness or the noble Lord would at least be sympathetic to the notion that it does not have to be absolutely compulsory and that there can be exemptions. I beg to move.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Hardy of Wath: I was particularly drawn to Amendment No. 61 which has been taken with Amendment No. 60. I do not seek to detain the Committee for long but I should like to make one or two pertinent remarks. I was greatly reassured before Christmas when, in answer to a supplementary question which I tabled regarding the need for other qualities and experience as well as the possession of a qualification, my noble friend Lady Blackstone offered an assurance which I welcomed, as did other Members of your Lordships' House.

I want to make two or three brief points based on fairly substantial and senior experience as a schoolmaster before I entered the Commons. It is a long time ago but still seems to be relatively fresh in mind. I recall two or three head teachers who were extremely competent in administration and organisation. One of them was so good that he got rid of all of his bad teachers, but did it by giving glowing testimonials. A certain amount of justice followed when the chairman of governors said to him one day, "You will be pleased to know that Mr. So-and-So"--I shall not mention the name, though I could--"applied for the position of deputy head. Given your glowing recommendation I am sure that the governors will all agree". That put him in rather an embarrassing position.

I taught for quite a long time in a senior position and met another extremely able headmaster. He was a marvellous administrator who was highly thought of. It was a difficult boys' secondary modern school. He would ring the bell at four o'clock, put on his hat and coat and be off the premises of the school before any boy left the classroom.

Other qualities are needed. Quite properly, a headmaster should have administrative competence. One of my anxieties in relation to teaching nowadays is that some extremely able teachers spend less time in the classroom and more than they ought fulfilling tasks which should and could be carried out at less cost by people with

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clerical skills. On the other hand, an aspiring young teacher needs administrative experience. But if he aspires to the higher levels of salary, he or she must be prepared to devote some of the time and preparation to the studies and occasional commitment of weekends to which the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, referred.

A good head teacher must be administratively competent. I see no reason why the Government should not go ahead with their policies rather than hesitate in the way that the noble Baroness suggests. However, the Government should understand--as teachers understand--that the head teacher needs to be not only a good administrator, but he also needs to be able to command the affection and respect of the pupils at the school and the respect and loyalty of the staff with whom he works. He must have and seek to maintain good relationships with the local education authority and be able to work with it rather than against it. I know that the last government were not keen on local education authorities but they are an essential aspect within education. Above all, a good head teacher must seek to maintain the affection and gratitude of the parents and the children.

All those matters are greatly assisted by administrative competence. But, simply because the head is good on paper, does not necessarily mean that he is good with children. That must be the major criteria. Unless the qualification is able to assist those who are good with children to be good as head teachers, then the system will not be as effective as many of us hope.

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