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Lord Northbourne: Before the noble Baroness sits down perhaps I may raise with her the point I made about the importance of parents being involved in, and contributing to, the implementation of the values policy. These amendments would facilitate parents becoming involved and they will encourage them to do so. From what the noble Baroness said it did not appear that the Government see that as an important issue.
Baroness Blackstone: I am very sorry that I forgot about that. I agree that all parents must be given the opportunity to express their views on the home-school agreement. That is why we require the governing body to consult all parents at the school before adopting or reviving a home-school agreement or any parental declaration. I hope that schools will involve parents very substantially in drawing up the agreement. Our guidance on home-school agreements will include many examples of good practice in this area. I hope that that reassures the noble Lord.
The Earl of Sandwich: Perhaps I may ask the noble Baroness a question about inspections since she mentioned my name. I am aware of a particular case in which a school from the west country made a visit to Brixton. The children were exposed to the culture of the Caribbean for the first time. That occurred shortly before an inspection. As I understand it, it was recorded. Whether one can call that a mathematical measurement, I am not certain. Perhaps the noble Baroness can help.
Baroness Blackstone: I know that Ofsted inspectors are looking at many aspects of this part of the curriculum and they may well record good practice of that sort. I understood the noble Earl's use of the word "measurement" to be something rather more precise. I understand what he is saying.
Baroness Young: I thank all those who have taken part in this debate. I am extremely grateful for the extensive support that I have had from all parts of the House. Perhaps I may begin by reassuring the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. We agree so regularly on these matters. I believe that those of us who are Christians are not confined to any one party or part of the House. We share common values and that is what we are talking about in particular.
Today I would not wish to emphasise particularly that we are talking about some kind of Church of England education. I believe that these are very modest amendments. I am very interested in the support that I have received from all parts of the House. I believe that frequently the danger for young people today is that this area of the curriculum is neglected. I was very disturbed to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, in replying to the debate, say that this matter would go to the annual meeting with parents and that she did not
I would love to answer the noble Lord, Lord Dormand, and explain what I mean by spiritual, but I shall not take up the time of the Committee to do so. The point has been made by my noble friend Lord Pilkington. I was very interested in the comments made by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. When one visits schools and meets young people one is very conscious of the numbers who devote a lot of time to charitable work. They devote a lot of time to work overseas, particularly in their "gap" year between school and university. They also help in their own communities. That is some measure of the kinds of things that we are talking about. When I was a child I was taught the values of truth, beauty and goodness. We all know what they are. Those are the kinds of things that we are looking for and which we share.
Lord Dormand of Easington: I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I thought that my question was a very simple and innocent one. It has given rise to quite an interesting debate, not least about the benefits of education in County Durham. All I can say is that I spent more than 70 years in a mining village in County Durham and look what it did for me! It is different from the effect that it has had on the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington.
My main point was to try to define the position. I say this not just to the noble Baroness but to other speakers. There is a need for good citizenship. No one would disagree with that. Those who do not have religious beliefs would not disagree with that. We are saying that there is a different way of achieving the objective and that the views held by people such as myself could also achieve that end. However, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for at least attempting to give me more information on the matter.
On the whole question of the spiritual and moral side of education, the words of the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, were most helpful. I am also grateful for the support of my noble friend Lady Carnegy who pointed out that many of the experiences of the past have not necessarily been helpful but that we can learn from the strengths of Church schools. I am also grateful for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, whose knowledge of education is infinitely greater than mine, and for that of the noble Lord, Lord Walton.
However, I am concerned about the Minister's reply on two counts. First, I have an uncomfortable feeling that the noble Baroness was not talking about what I and those who support my amendments have been talking about. The noble Baroness suggested that citizenship could be a substitute for spiritual and moral values. I am not against citizenship. Of course, being a good citizen is in itself a good thing, but I am talking about something infinitely greater and deeper than that.
My second concern about the Minister's reply relates to the point I made at the beginning and to the Government's suggestion that spiritual and moral values are not central to a school. Anyone who visits a school can tell its ethos, almost on walking through the front door. Perhaps I may give one small illustration. Where I stay in London I go first thing in the morning to buy a newspaper from a small shop run by an Indian family. Invariably when I am in the shop, it contains a number of pupils, obviously from the local comprehensive. I regret to say that they are usually buying sweets and soft drinks, which I strongly suspect comprise their breakfast. Nevertheless, those large boys are nearly always in the shop. They are universally polite. It is extraordinarily impressive that if they bump into you, as teenagers can so easily do in a confined space, they invariably apologise. They hold open the door for the customers. That school has got those children to do something remarkable--and the outsider immediately judges the school on that. Its young people are very thoughtful. They have no idea who I am, so I am certain that they behave in that way to everyone. That school has given those children something, a moral education--and it shows. However, it is more than that. It is something of value and we all know how important it is.
Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.