Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 67

Page 11, line 39, leave out ("by them") and insert ("at the school").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 68 and 69. These are technical amendments, which are necessary to ensure the effective working of Clause 13. The clause is most important because it will allow governing bodies to apply for permission to opt out of the teachers' pay and conditions document in order to find new ways of working with and rewarding staff. It will also help governing bodies to improve the recruitment and retention of staff, and to make effective and flexible use of the school's human resources.

The amendments will give governing bodies which use the clause the power to offer alternative contracts. Amendment No. 69 clarifies that existing contracts will continue to have force until any new contracts are put in place. It ensures that, where the LEA is the employer,

19 May 1998 : Column 1602

it must implement the decisions of the governing body. That is, of course, already the case where the pay and conditions document is in place and the school is operating a delegated budget. This is an important clause. In order to ensure that it works effectively for all types of school, I ask Members of the Committee to accept the amendments. I beg to move.

Baroness Maddock: I wish to discuss Amendment No. 70 which in many ways is closely connected with the amendments just spoken to by the Minister. We are concerned that councillors, governors and teachers are fully consulted when new arrangements apply within an education action zone to suspend the present teachers' pay and conditions. As the noble Baroness has said, under Chapter III of the Bill education action zones are established and there are powers to disapply the teachers' pay legislation. Many people are concerned about that. As the Minister said earlier, no one is particularly anticipating that teachers will receive lower pay, but the consequences of this measure may be serious for local authorities, particularly as regards teachers' pension rights.

I appreciate that the Minister will give us further information on this matter after today; namely, how the provision will affect local authorities. Important matters are involved in the provision. The Minister recognises that there must be some consultation. However, matters remain to be ironed out, for example the responsibilities of local authorities in this area, particularly any extra financial responsibilities they may incur. I hope that at a future date the Minister will give us further information on this important matter.

The Minister referred to the recruitment of teachers. That is a matter of concern. I do not think I am as optimistic as the Minister. Schools already have considerable difficulty recruiting teachers. I have received quite a long letter from the headmaster of a school in Southampton that my children used to attend which mentions his concerns about this Bill. He states that the school is experiencing considerable problems at present recruiting teachers even where additional salary points have been awarded. He wrote that the school had sometimes advertised twice for staff but had received only three applicants for a post. I can confirm that it is a reasonable school. In the foreign languages department of that school only four candidates applied for a fairly attractive job. As I said, I am not as optimistic as the Minister on this point. I believe there will be problems in recruiting teachers.

We should all be concerned about what may happen to schools adjacent to education action zones if teachers are attracted to schools within those zones. People must be consulted properly on this important issue. As I said, we must consider the knock-on effects on schools adjacent to action zones as well as the effects on teachers within action zones. I look forward to hearing the Minister's reply. As I said, I realise she may not be able to say too much tonight as she will write to us on some of these matters in the future.

Baroness Blackstone: We are strongly in favour of consultation, and indeed applications to opt out will not

19 May 1998 : Column 1603

be considered without evidence that this has taken place. I hope that is helpful to the noble Baroness. We maintain that the requirement to consult is best placed on those putting forward the proposals, not on the Secretary of State. It makes no sense at all for the proponents to put forward a proposal without discussion with teachers. That is why the requirement is built into the Bill.

In terms of the consultation we would expect to see from the governing body when it applies for this opt-out, the Minister for School Standards has made it clear that he expects consultation with teachers, teacher representatives and LEA representatives if the LEA is the employer. There may be other groups which are particularly relevant in some local contexts, such as diocesan bodies, parent groups or governor associations. However, there is no reason why this needs to be on the face of the Bill. Assurances have been given that we will expect consultation of all those affected, and that the Secretary of State will take account of this consultation in reaching a reasonable decision. But this will vary depending on the type of school which is putting forward the proposals and the nature of what is proposed.

With those assurances, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, will feel able to withdraw the amendments.

Baroness Maddock: We have only one amendment in the group; the others belong to the Minister. Our amendment has not even been moved. But in replying to the Minister's response to our amendment, let us get it right. It is ten past one in the morning. I hear what the Minister says. In view of the discussions we have had tonight, we shall all need to look carefully at what was said and at further information we receive from the Minister on some of these issues. When we reach the Report stage we may wish to tidy it up a little more. But we shall have to look carefully at what has been said. There has been a great deal of discussion about this matter tonight. I know that we shall be getting further information so I shall not press the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 68:

Page 11, line 46, leave out ("by them") and insert ("at the school").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 69:

Page 12, line 10, at end insert--
("( ) Where by virtue of an order under subsection (4) above a pay and conditions order ceases to apply in relation to any school, the statutory conditions of employment of the school teachers employed at the school shall be-- (a) such as may be determined by the governing body, or (b) so far as the governing body have not made any determination with respect to any such conditions of employment, those having effect under the order immediately before it ceased to apply;
and (so far as necessary) the local education authority shall give effect to any such determination of the governing body.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

19 May 1998 : Column 1604

[Amendment No. 70 not moved.]

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Cases where LEA may exercise powers of intervention]:

1.15 a.m.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 71:

Page 13, line 11, after ("notice") insert ("in writing").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 71, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 72. I can be brief. These are minor drafting amendments to make explicit the need for the LEA to put in writing the warning notice and the intention to use the powers available. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 13, line 32, after ("notice") insert ("in writing").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 16 [Power of LEA to appoint additional governors]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 73:

Page 14, line 35, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 73, I shall speak also to Amendments No. 74, 75 and 76. Amendments Nos. 77 and 77A are in the same group, but before responding it might be better if I wait until the right reverend Prelate has spoken to Amendment No. 77.

Amendments Nos. 73, 74, 75 and 76 put right an omission in the Bill. They are concerned with the period immediately following failure when a school and its LEA have to send plans to the Secretary of State for improving the school: these are the school's action plan and the LEA's statement in response.

The effect of our amendments would be to bring into line the point at which the appropriate appointing authority for voluntary-aided schools can use its powers to appoint governing bodies with that already in the Bill for LEAs to exercise their powers. In both cases, this will be 10 days after the Secretary of State has received both the action plan from the school and the statement from the LEA. That was unfortunately omitted from earlier stages of the Bill, but it replicates existing arrangements in the School Inspections Act 1996.

Amendment No. 75 provides for the same 10 days waiting period before, in the case of voluntary aided schools, the appropriate appointing authority uses its powers to appoint additional governors. The other amendments are matters of drafting following on from that. I shall gladly respond to the right reverend Prelate when he moves his amendment. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page