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Lord Tope: My Lords, I too give a general welcome to this group of amendments. Amendment No. 30 is welcome, but it is very prescriptive about how the notice should be given, when, and the length of time. I began to wonder whether the chief inspector might be planning dawn raids on schools.

I am being waved at furiously from the Government Bench. I am not entirely sure whether I should wave back.

My other point concerns Amendment No. 26, which makes clear that the Secretary of State may ask the Chief Inspector for advice. I would have been happier if it had said "the General Teaching Council and/or the Secretary of State" because that is a power I would like the GTC to have also. Subject to those comments, and the gestures from the Front Bench which were less than clear to me, I give the amendment a general welcome.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am grateful for the general welcome that these amendments have received. I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that discussions are going on between Ofsted and the higher education sector on the issues that she mentioned, and I am sure that they will be resolved.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 27:

Page 9, line 27, at end insert--
("( ) The Chief Inspector, in carrying out his inspection and making his report, shall have proper regard to the demands made on teacher training institutions by changes to the curriculum.").

The noble Lord said: We are in confusion on this Bench. My noble friend Lady Maddock and I both thought that the other was moving the amendment. Under those circumstances all I can do is formally move the amendment and hear what the Minister will say about what one of us would have said. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the problem is that I am also in some confusion as to what the noble Lord means and whether the curriculum he mentions refers to initial teacher training or primary schools. Either way, this issue is under discussion between Ofsted, the Teacher Training Agency and the higher education sector. Assuming that it is the primary curriculum, we would not wish to do anything unreasonable. Any change in the burden on teacher training institutions would need to be taken into account in the ongoing discussions between the three parties. Certainly it is the intention of the department and Ofsted that that should be so. I hope, in the light of that, that whoever is moving the amendment will withdraw it.

Lord Tope: My Lords, with that assurance and under the circumstances I am only too happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 28:

Page 9, line 36, at end insert ("under this section").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 29:

Page 9, line 45, after ("functions") insert ("under this section").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 10, line 2, at end insert--
("(6A) The Chief Inspector shall not carry out any inspection under subsection (1) unless--
(a) at least eight weeks previously, he has given notice of his intention to carry out the inspection--
(i) to the relevant institution concerned, or
(ii) where that institution is a partnership or association of eligible institutions, to one of those institutions; or
(b) with the agreement of that institution or (as the case may be) one of those institutions, he has given it shorter notice of that intention.
(6B) Any notice under subsection (6A)--
(a) shall be given in writing, and
(b) may be sent by post;
and any such notice may (without prejudice to any other lawful method of giving it) be addressed to an institution at any address which the institution has notified to a funding agency as its address.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 10, line 3, leave out subsection (7) and insert--
("(7) Nothing in this section confers any right or imposes any duty, whether as regards the carrying out of any inspection or otherwise, in relation to any course which consists of instruction given wholly or mainly for purposes other than training falling within subsection (1)(a) or (b).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 10, line 18, after first ("of") insert ("public").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15 [Inspection of institutions training teachers for schools: Scotland]:

[Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Carnegy of Lour moved Amendment No. 35:

Page 10, line 39, leave out from ("made") to end of line 41 and insert ("only by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education or by persons with substantial experience in higher education."").

The noble Baroness said: At Committee stage I raised the question of whether the arrangements for the inspection of higher education courses in Scotland, as outlined in Clause 15, are appropriate.

Clause 15 mirrors the type of inspection proposed in Clause 14 for England and Wales, yet the circumstances and the role of Her Majesty's Inspectorate are very different in Scotland. I shall not reiterate the differences,

26 Feb 1998 : Column 854

but the short debate we had on this clause is recorded at columns 1498 to 1504 of the Official Report for 20th January.

At that time the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, the Scottish Office Minister, gave a full and helpful reply, for which I was very grateful. Having discussed the matter again with the Association of University Teachers in Scotland, I have put down this further amendment in order to seek additional clarification.

The AUT still has two anxieties about this clause. One of those is addressed by this amendment. The association feels strongly that quality assessment of teacher training in Scotland should be led by people qualified in the area of teacher education. Amendment No. 35 would achieve that.

There would be no objection to Her Majesty's Inspectorate having an input in filling the gap which the Government perceive to exist in their ability to ensure that their ends are being fulfilled in this area of higher education institutions. Nor would there be any objection to the other professionals mentioned in the Bill having an input.

Can the Minister tell us whether the Government are firm in their intention to place this lead role on Her Majesty's Inspectorate or whether they have reconsidered the matter, and can she elucidate further than the noble Lord did in Committee on who the other professionals will be?

That is one anxiety. I mentioned the other anxiety when we discussed Clause 14, and I welcome the news that the noble Baroness gave us. I had laid down amendments to attempt to limit the scope of inspections in Scottish higher education institutions in the way that the noble Baroness intends. I have withdrawn those, but I should be grateful if the Minister could enlarge slightly on the Government's intentions. I beg to move.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her contribution this evening. Amendment No. 35, as it is presently worded, would remove Her Majesty's Inspectorate as the instrument of inspection and substitute the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. That is fundamentally flawed and ill conceived. It ignores the expertise of Her Majesty's Inspectorate and suggests that the Quality Assurance Agency is capable of acting as an instrument of inspection. By definition it cannot because the QAA is a private body, owned by the higher education institutions, and therefore the Secretary of State would be unable to direct it to inspect teacher education on his behalf. The link between the Secretary of State and the inspection would be broken, and that is an ill-conceived development.

I firmly believe that only Her Majesty's Inspectorate has the information and expertise necessary to ensure that teacher education produces the teachers that Scotland's schools need and it would not be appropriate to ask a body or person whose primary focus was higher education, not school education, to carry out this particular line. That is why we are persisting with our position.

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On the business of the other professionals, perhaps I may indicate that the other professionals involved in the inspection could well be, for example, senior and experienced teachers and head teachers and they would benefit enormously from the inspection process, in addition to the members of the inspectorate.

On the second point raised by the noble Baroness, I repeat what my noble friend Lady Blackstone said. It is our intention to move amendments to the clause either at a later stage or in another place which will have the effect of putting the position in Scotland on the limitation of the inspection on all fours with the case in England and Wales. I hope that I have said sufficient to enable the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

7 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. The Association of University Teachers will be grateful for the trouble the Minister has taken in responding to their pleas. The amendments to be introduced will be welcomed by them and by the universities in Scotland. They will clarify matters and greatly improve the Bill. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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