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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 168F:

Page 41, line 8, leave out subsection (7).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 49, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 50 agreed to.

Schedule 15 agreed to.

Clauses 51 and 52 agreed to.

Clause 53 [Staffing of community, voluntary controlled and community special schools]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 168G:

Page 42, line 37, leave out ("or by virtue of section 48(2) or (4)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 53, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 16 [Staffing of community, voluntary controlled and community special schools]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 168A:

Page 162, line 5, leave out ("below") and insert ("in paragraphs 4 to 7").

The noble Lord said: The Committee having now moved into that part of the Bill which deals with staffing, it may be of assistance if I say a few general words before I introduce this amendment and speak to the amendments of other noble Lords. The main purpose of the staffing provisions is to carry existing provisions forward into the new framework. Most of these provisions appeared in the Education Reform Act 1988

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and some have their origins in the 1944 Act. I have in mind the basic provisions on appointments and dismissals and religious safeguards.

The changes that we have introduced arise mainly from, first, the need to provide for foundation schools which will come back into the LEA-maintained fold but retaining their power to employ their own staff; secondly, the abolition of articles of government, which means that we need to provide to allow some historical practices to continue, such as the right of Catholic religious order schools to give prior consideration to members of the order when a headship becomes vacant; thirdly, the need to clarify but not extend the religious safeguards for Church schools which were couched in the outdated language of the 1944 Act--which I shall gladly explain to the very reverend Canon the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, if necessary--and, fourthly, our policies set out in the White Paper Excellence in Schools in support of good management and leadership, in particular the requirement for schools to have capability procedures and the local education authority's right to make representations to the governing body on unsuitable head teacher appointments.

The basic principles of the staffing provisions reflect earlier arrangements, including those put in place when Local Management of Schools was introduced 10 years ago. I hope that, since there are no changes involved, we need not spend too much time on those provision.

I should like to speak first to the government amendments. There are two amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, in the group. If he agrees, I shall speak to them after he has spoken. There is also an amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. As he is not in his place today, I assume that it will not be moved.

Government Amendment No. 168A is a tidying-up amendment which removes the need for the governing body initially to notify the LEA of a vacancy for a head or deputy head teacher in circumstances where the incumbent is merely absent and the governing body proposes to recommend someone as an acting head or deputy head teacher.

Government Amendments Nos. 175A and 176E will provide Church of England and Roman Catholic diocesan authorities with advisory rights on the face of the Bill. Those are currently provided in the Church of England Board of Education Measure 1991, in the case of Church of England voluntary aided schools, and in the articles of government of Catholic voluntary aided schools. The entitlement for a diocesan authority to advise at a governing body's proceedings on appointments and dismissals will apply where the chief education officer of the LEA has advisory rights on staffing matters. The amendments will also provide Church of England, Church in Wales or Roman Catholic foundation and voluntary controlled schools with the discretion to extend advisory rights on staffing matters to diocesan authorities. The scope to accord advisory rights will apply at any time in the case of voluntary controlled schools, as the chief education officer of the LEA enjoys advisory rights at all times. In the case of foundation schools, it will apply only where the

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governing body has agreed advisory rights for the chief education officer of the LEA. These amendments represent a rolling forward of the current arrangements for diocesan advice on staffing matters in these church schools, and I therefore trust that the Committee will agree that they should be included in the Bill.

Government Amendments Nos. 176A, 176B, 176C, 176D and 176F also roll forward arrangements that currently exist. They are provided for in the articles of government of those voluntary aided schools which deal with head teacher appointments in the way permitted by those provisions. The effects of amendments are twofold. In the case of a voluntary aided school which is run by a Roman Catholic religious order, provision is made for the major superior of the order to propose a suitably qualified person from the order for appointment to a head teacher vacancy. Provision is also made for the governing body of a voluntary aided school to determine the selection of a head teacher by the whole governing body rather than using a selection panel.

These amendments have benefited from consultation with the churches and I believe that they represent a sensible way forward for providing these church schools with advice on their staffing functions. I hope that the Committee will join me in supporting their inclusion in the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: Perhaps I may speak briefly to the two amendments in my name in this group of amendments. They cover the circumstances, which I must say I have been in on the other side of, where the chief education officer, or one of his delegates, gives advice on the appointment of a teacher or head teacher. On one occasion that person gave extremely prejudicial advice about a certain individual, saying, "Oh, we have heard this, that and the other about him". The chief education officer--in that case he was giving information on a deputy head in his care--is in a position to deny that person promotion and advancement by spreading information--rumour--which is totally unsubstantiated.

The Government, and the previous government, have gone to considerable lengths to prevent credit reference agencies from doing that. It is now a well-established principle that a person has the right to his personal file in order to know what is being said about him on occasions which make a great difference to his life. The chief education officer is and should be a responsible person. If he is prepared to give advice to the governors of a school, those people appointing a head teacher, he should do so in writing. He should make that advice available to the person about whom he is writing. There should be nothing secret, underhand or under the counter about it. If the chief education officer is prepared to say something in public, he should say it, otherwise he should keep decently quiet about it.

The Lord Bishop of Ripon: I welcome the amendments relating to Church schools. I refer to Amendments Nos. 175A and 176E. Amendment No. 176E refers to voluntary-aided schools. As the Minister said, that extends on to the face of the Bill the provision which has been made by articles of association until now. That is a different provision from that in

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Amendment No. 175A for controlled schools, whereas for aided schools the Bill provides that the appropriate diocesan officer shall have the same advisory rights as the chief education officer. In relation to controlled schools, the governing body may agree that that shall be the case. Their consent is required. It seems to me that that is proper.

Although many controlled schools had articles of association which provided in that regard, it was not universally the case. Therefore that amendment extends to all voluntary controlled schools a practice which was already largely but not universally in place. It is important because in recent years voluntary controlled schools--they are not on precisely the same basis as aided schools--have come to recognise their Church affiliations, not least because of the Ofsted inspections of such schools. This provision will help those who appoint the teachers to such schools to recognise the Church association and the provision which such a controlled Church school can make to education in the locality.

I welcome the amendment, which will encourage controlled schools to recognise their Church affiliation.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Perhaps I may reply to Amendments Nos. 172 and 173, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. I understand the point he makes about the possibility of any superior, whether a chief education officer or anyone else providing a reference, for example, behaving in an irresponsible way. But the place to remedy that is in a code of practice rather than on the face of the Bill. I do not know whether the noble Lord has taken part in the selection of a head teacher in a governing body, as I have. As chair of a governing body, I have run the selection panel which selects the head teacher. We have the chief education officer of the local education authority with us during the interviews. At the end of the interviewing process he or she gives his or her opinion on the candidate. That cannot be in writing. Therefore, the noble Lord's amendment, which requires it to be in writing, cannot be achieved.

Similarly, where a meeting takes place in those terms, what the chief education officer says cannot be and normally should not be revealed to the candidates. Even if it should be revealed to the candidates, the effect would be to make it impossible for the meeting to come to a conclusion about which candidate to appoint. Therefore, on purely practical grounds, I ask him to withdraw his amendment and to accept our assurance that in terms of general employment law a code of practice is the better approach.

I am grateful for the comments of the right reverend Prelate about the government amendments. I commend Amendment No. 168A to the Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 169:

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