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Lord Walton of Detchant: Before the noble Lord replies, perhaps I may say that in the very first briefing produced by the National Commission on Education, written very persuasively by Professor Andrew McPherson from Edinburgh, the crucial importance of value added was stressed and a great deal of factual information was provided to indicate the reasons why crude league tables relating to levels of attainment by pupils in individual schools were misleading. It was necessary to take full account of the educational attainment of the parents of the pupils, their social and ethnic background and many other factors before one was able to see in what way targets for educational attainment had been achieved.
I very well understand the point made by the noble Lord, in reply to these amendments, about not imposing a greater level of bureaucracy on local education authorities and the schools. But it would be a great reassurance to the educational establishment, if I may call it such, if there were somewhere within this very important clause on educational provision by schools and educational plans a comment to the effect that the important principle of value added will be borne in mind.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I was fully prepared to make exactly the points which the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, has made in response to what I hoped would be a more comprehensive group of amendments covering questions of ethnicity, gender and so on. But noble Lords who propose these amendments have exercised their undoubted right to have them debated separately. So it is true that we have had half a debate and not the whole of it. The noble Lord is entirely right in saying that these other issues are enormously important in assessing added value and we should not go on prior attainment alone.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Before my noble friend replies, perhaps I may raise a point with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I listened with care to what he said and I understood that the Government expect that every school will have targets such as those proposed in these two amendments and that the Government are looking for targets which relate to value added. If that is so, surely targets of attainment in relation particularly to value added are so important that, above all other matters that should appear on the face of the Bill, they come first.
The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, is looking puzzled. I do not know whether he is really puzzled or whether he thinks that I do not know what I am talking about. It seems to me that it is crucial that every school should know what it is trying to achieve and that it should be able to measure whether it has done so in relation to the matters covered by these amendments. If that is so, and if the Government agree, why can they not put this particular matter on the face of the Bill?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I did not say that I expected that all schools and LEAs would provide all of the information required in the amendments. I said that the guidance for LEAs on education development plans includes, in annex 1, a table which provides for information at key stages 2 and 4. That information will be required. It is up to the local education authorities and the schools to decide whether they want to specify further targets. That is an option for them; it is not a requirement. We are anxious to ensure that education authorities and schools put forward targets which are meaningful to them rather than simply imposing the full range of central targets.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: So the Government do not expect that every school will set such targets. I am not talking about the education authorities. I do not see why a school's targets should not be known to the education authorities.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: They will not necessarily; they can do so if they want to. There are already differences between middle schools and secondary schools. We must be a little flexible in terms of what we require from schools.
Lord Peston: Perhaps I may ask my noble friend a question. It seems to me that his answers to the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, are right. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, suggested another problem which has troubled me as I have read and tried to understand the Bill. I am not sure whether I have been successful. The point of having plans is to achieve something, and after implementing every plan the question is, "Did you achieve what you were attempting?". My difficulty when reading the Bill--I am sure that my noble friend knows the Bill much better than I do--is that I cannot find anything in it to cover that question. Before we leave this matter, could my noble friend direct me to the part of the Bill dealing with that? I had meant to raise this point later but, as my noble friend is dealing with the matter now, I must confess to him that I am a bit lost. I cannot see the point of having plans--I totally support them--unless at some point, say, every year, one says, "This is what I set out to do and this is what I have achieved". I cannot find the provision in the Bill that says that that must happen.
Baroness Blatch: I am not surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Peston, cannot find that provision. One of the difficulties with this Bill is that it is not possible to find such provisions in it. Having read the background papers, my understanding is that each school will negotiate its targets with the LEA.
However, because of the answers that we have been given by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, I now do not understand precisely what will be expected of each school. Perhaps I may link that with the important point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant.
I must advise the noble Lords, Lord Walton and Lord McIntosh, that ultimately one wants to know that people have achieved the level of ability needed to do their job. I refer, for example, to surgeons who operate on people, to accountants who look after people's accounts and to lawyers who deal with complex matters. Whatever value is added and whatever extraneous information is provided by the school and/or the local education authority in the course of providing information to the Secretary of State (who will either approve or disapprove of it), it is important to know what a child is achieving, whatever his or her background. It is important to know what a child is achieving, what he or she is able to achieve and what it is possible (in the form of a target) for the child to achieve in the coming academic year. The answers that we have received so far from the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, do not make it absolutely clear that we are looking for achievement targets and, based on previous achievement, that we are looking for reasonable, stretching targets for the following year in terms of a child's ability and curriculum outcomes.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I had thought that not only had I made that clear, but that the Bill makes it entirely clear. My noble friend Lord Peston is right: there is no point in having education development plans unless one is going to do something about achieving the targets. If my noble friend will look at Clause 7(5), he will see that it is the duty of the Secretary of State to keep under review the authority's proposals and their implementation. It is clear that implementation of an education development plan is an essential requirement of the process. I should add that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and her colleagues, propose that Clause 7 as a whole should be removed from the Bill, thus removing also the requirement for implementation.
Lord Peston: I am sorry to interrupt my noble friend, but perhaps he will clarify one point. Does "implementation" mean "outcomes" rather than, "trying to meet the plan"? My understanding of the word "implementation" is that it means, "We are trying to undertake our plan". It does not mean, "Having set the target that 98 per cent. of children will be able to read, we now tell you that 95 per cent. can read, which is less than our target, but more than was achieved last year". If we are to follow this line, that is the sort of information that we want. I am certain that my noble friend is right about what will be done. I am simply asking a rather technical question because I cannot see any provision in the Bill which requires that that must be done. I was hoping that there would be a simple non-political answer to my question, saying, "This bit
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not take it as a technical question. Perhaps I may write to my noble friend about the construction of the Bill. The intention is that the achievement of the targets set out in the education development plans will be a matter of public report. One would not have education development plans unless that is what one intended.
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