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Lord Lucas: Perhaps I may return to something that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said earlier and ask him to clarify it. I hope that I was not correct in understanding him to say that a lower level of value added would be acceptable from pupils who might come from difficult home backgrounds or difficult economic circumstances. Surely the education system should be about enabling pupils to achieve their potential, whatever the background from which they come. That may require greater effort when dealing with pupils who come from difficult backgrounds, but surely one should not modify one's targets and expectations of value added just because pupils may come from difficult backgrounds. One should put in greater effort. The noble Lord seemed to imply that matters such as social class and ethnicity should be taken into account when assessing a school's target for value added. Surely that is not right.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: If I gave the impression that the noble Lord has drawn, I gave the wrong impression. I am not saying that there should be lower expectations of value added because children may come from different backgrounds. It is simply that the value added is measured in a different way if they come from different backgrounds. We still have to have added value. That is what raising standards is all about. It is not a question of relaxation; it is a question of the way in which we realistically measure what can be achieved. As I said in response to the noble Lord, Lord Walton, that is a matter not only of prior attainment, but also of the various other social factors to which the noble Lord rightly referred.

Lord Peston: In support of my noble friend Lord McIntosh, the point that he makes is one of which both he and I have experience. Let us take the case of Haringey. When there was a large influx of people from Cyprus whose first language was not English those schools made prodigious achievements in teaching those children to read and write, although I am sure that their performance was less good in terms of the ghastly league tables that I detest than that of children from leafier suburbs. The whole point about value added is that perhaps only half the children can read, but half is a good deal more than nought compared with another school that has moved from 70 per cent. to 71 per cent. I hope that my noble friend does not remotely accept the notion that to take value added into account is to make the teachers' or school's life easier; if anything, it is to make it very much harder.

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3.30 p.m.

Lord Lucas: I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Peston, is barking up the wrong tree. Quite rightly, one starts from prior attainment in measuring value added. If children enter a school less well educated or able the attainment of that school at the end of the day will be less but there will be value added and it is on that basis that the school should be praised. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, says that if two children coming into a school have equal prior attaintment but one of them is poor and black and the other is rich and white the latter should be expected to do better. I do not believe that that is an acceptable policy for any government.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I thought that my noble friend Lord Peston had made the issue entirely clear. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, appears to be attempting to cloud it. I am glad that the lobby of the Haringey Association for the Advancement of State Education has reasserted itself. The examples that he gives are entirely right. If pupils whose first language is not English come into a school in the middle of their school career one must adjust one's targets accordingly. That does not mean that one sets lower standards for value added, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, appears to insist upon. There is still value added although the targets are different.

Lord Lucas: I entirely agree, but that is what prior attainment is about. One starts with the attainment, abilities and measured competence of the pupils. If they come in with no English half-way through their schooling that is taken into account, but that has nothing to do with ethnicity or social background. They are totally irrelevant to value added. If one introduces those factors one merely accepts the idea that people who are poor should be less well educated.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No. I return to the point rightly made by the noble Lord, Lord Walton. There are all kinds of other factors that affect prior attainment. If one takes prior attainment which is the result of all these other factors as the only measure then one will not understand what it is the schools have to do and are trying to do. One must understand that, and that is why one needs the other measures of value added.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: I welcome the Minister's dislike of too much bureaucracy. I am delighted that he wants to reduce it, and I am sure that he will give me his support when later in the Bill I table amendments to that end. My heart is touched by his dislike of bureaucracy in face of this Bill.

Since this matter has attracted everyone's attention, I turn to the issue of value added and prior attainment. I remind the Committee--some Members appear to have forgotten the point that I made--that there may be two different schools in the same area. I can think of two schools in a deprived area of east London both with high ethnic pupil ratios. They achieve widely different results. Those schools are less than one quarter of a mile from each other. They achieve widely different results

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because one demands more and is better run than the other. Therefore, prior attainment is a very important element. I regret that the Government have paid no more than lip service to Amendment No. 27.

The noble Lord, Lord Walton, referred to tests. There are other tests to show that prior attainment is more closely related to subsequent attainment than any other factor. The factors listed in the studies were class, parents' education, ethnicity, social disadvantage and free school meals. Tests have shown that if one can get prior attainment right regardless of race and social background one will get subsequent performance. I do not want to harp on something that I have referred to many times, but the experience of the United States proves that. Its educational system in the first 30 or 40 years of this century ignored ethnic and social background and awarded citizenship on achievement in the educational system and achieved it. We need not be in contradiction. I regret that in the first part of this debate these old social arguments are coming up. There is no contradiction. We on this side of the Chamber suggest that attention be paid to prior attainment and that schools be demanded to show it. That is the most effective way of judging a school. By all means work out value added, but I endorse the views of my noble friend Lord Lucas that it must never become, as it has in the past, an excuse for the fact that some people from different ethnic backgrounds are less well educated. There is no necessity for that. I taught pupils in Africa for three years for whom English was a third language. They spoke two others: their tribal language and Swahili. They were as clever as many of the people I taught later in highly selective schools. It is enormously important that we judge that in the state system.

Although I shall seek leave to withdraw the amendment at this stage, I ask the Committee to pay attention to Amendment No. 27 because it may come back again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 27 not moved.]

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 28:

Page 4, line 15, after second ("for") insert ("all").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 28 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 39 and 40. Amendment No. 28 seeks to add the word "all" to the first sentence of Clause 6. The effect is to insert on the face of the Bill the Government's stated commitment to improve the education provision for and the educational achievements of all children, including those with special needs in the broadest sense of those words.

I raised this matter at Second Reading. On 5th May I received a letter from the noble Baroness the Minister reassuring me that the definition of "children" in this sentence specifically included children with special needs. That provides some but not sufficient comfort. But at Second Reading the noble Baroness also recommended that we study the draft guidance, as it then was, on educational development plans. I have

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done so. It is true that there are many places in which the requirements placed on LEAs in constructing these plans cover or refer to pupils with special needs and/or pupils in special schools.

However, the phrase "all children" is used only once in the outline of the legal position in appendix 4 of the draft guidance. That makes no mention of special needs. We wish to see a commitment in education development plans to the development of education provision for all pupils including those who are sometimes left on the margins of LEAs' interests, concern and expenditure. I include among them sometimes marginal groups and the full range of children with special educational needs, including those with behavioural problems, pupils with special gifts, the physically disabled, who are sometimes indefensibly separated from mainstream education, and pupils in referral units. The draft guidance goes some way towards satisfying that imperative. It is possible that, following the end of the consultation period on the draft guidance, increased emphasis may be placed on the spectrum of special needs within it. Meanwhile, we should like to see the Government's stated commitment to SEN pupils reflected on the face of the Bill.

I turn next to Amendment No. 39 which provides that when the authority prepares its education development plan it shall have regard to the curriculum statement under the Education Act 1996. This is a probing amendment. We want to ensure that the education plan is linked to the curriculum statement rather than that the duty to draw up such a statement is abolished. The LEA would then need to have regard to the curriculum statement when it draws up the EDP. The purpose of that amendment is quite clear.

Finally, on Amendment No. 40 we are asking that:

    "In the course of preparing an education development plan the authority shall agree targets with a school, to which the school shall have regard".

Those proposals were in the White Paper and we wish to reintroduce them into the Bill. We need an explanation from Ministers as to why the requirement to agree targets with schools has been dropped although it was proposed in the White Paper. It is possible that the effectiveness of EDPs will be reduced if schools can ignore them. Equally, it is more likely that schools will ignore them if there has not been a reasonable discussion and agreement following that discussion. I beg to move.

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