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Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I welcome what the Minister said about the desire of the Government to raise standards of attainment in the work children do at school in literacy, numeracy and much more.

I respect what the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, said; and of course I do not have a narrow view of education. What worries me is that those from the more deprived areas of our community--those from a different ethnic background or from deprived families--will not be expected to attain as well as others have attained. That has not been the case in the past when people from those areas have attained high standards of literacy and numeracy--often immigrants who came to this country at the turn of the century from Russia and many other countries. While I respect what the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, said, we must never hide behind saying, "Little Johnny may not be able to read or write, and in fact he cannot add up either, but, my goodness, he is a confident little fellow when you see him walking down the street". That may be very desirable, but it does not get little Johnny a job.

We must be practical and not take the rather high and mighty attitude of saying that if you make a person confident everything else will follow. He also needs to read and write and achieve examination success. That is the point I and my noble friends sought to make. I am delighted that the Minister understands it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [Preparation of education development plans]:

5.45 p.m.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 4, line 11, after ("area,") insert ("specifying the targets for attainment for individual schools at key stage 2 and key stage 4,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we are back again to those nasty things called facts. I always think it best to set targets in order to know what one has achieved and what one will aim at. Fortunately, in Key Stage 2, which is at year seven, and Key Stage 4, at year 11, we have two crucial points in a child's career: when he leaves his junior school and when he takes his GCSE examinations. At those points we have records of achievement. In this amendment I suggest that the education development plan for any school, in discussion with the school and the governors of the school, should take into account the achievements at those key stages and then say what the target should be and what improvements are necessary. It should not leave the issue vague but say, "We achieved this".

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One could take into account the background of the pupils in the school. But if one is to improve standards, one has to look at the reality of the situation and then decide in a co-operative way how far those standards can be improved. I suggest that these facts are the skeleton and that the flesh which is to clothe the skeleton should be the education development plan based on those facts.

For example, if a school has consistently under-performed at GCSE in six subjects, one should analyse those subjects, first, as would any headmaster or headmistress, and decide how the performance could be improved. Otherwise, it can become mere rhetoric. I hope that the Government can assure us that they will at least put into directions on education development plans some reference to what is being achieved and what is expected to be achieved. It is not Gradgrind; it is just facts. Anyone looking at a business, a factory, or even at one's own individual performance, would do the same. When I hear confessions, I do not say to the person, "It's got to be the same as last week"; I expect an improvement in performance over the years. It is the same with regard to a school; otherwise, salvation would be denied us all. I hope that some thought can be given to these key stages in deciding the education development plan. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 21 and 22 may be taken together. Their effect is to require local education authorities to include in their education development plans specific targets for individual schools at each of Key Stages 2 and 4 and that the targets so specified should be based on prior attainment of pupils at individual schools. The noble Lord tabled similar amendments in Committee but they went further than these amendments. I am pleased that he has taken on board one of the reasons that we resisted the first amendment; that is, that the previous version, which covered all key stages from one through to four, would have seriously over-burdened schools and local education authorities. But I am afraid that the amendments now before us still represent a backward step in the arrangements for target setting that we currently propose under the Bill.

Our intention is to have a small number of challenging but not burdensome targets in education development plans. These--and they are set out in the draft guidance on education development plans--are precise and clear, both to local education authorities and to schools. They are also able to change over time because the Secretary of State can issue regulations on target setting to focus on subject areas that changing circumstances may make it appropriate to include as targets, or to phase out an existing target if circumstances justify that. But by placing targets at Key Stages 2 and 4 on the face of the Bill, Amendment No. 21 would require new legislation in order to vary the targets; for example, by removing a target at Key Stage 2 or adding targets at Key Stage 4. That would introduce inflexibility and delay which cannot be to the benefit of the local education authority and still less the schools. So I do not see any advantage in the amendment to which the noble Lord has principally spoken.

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There is at least one potential difficulty. Once the Secretary of State has approved LEAs' education development plans, they will be required, as the guidance states, to update them annually to review progress against the achievement of targets agreed between LEAs and schools. That is an education development plan. The second year of education development plans will provide a bench-mark for tracking the progress of schools and LEAs regarding performance and the achievement of targets on the basis of actual performance in the first year.

Of course, prior attainment is very important. Indeed, the value added measures which the department will be publishing relate specifically to prior attainment. But research suggests that other factors such as free school meals or English as an additional language, are of less significance once prior attainment is taken into account. The noble Lord understands the interaction between those things. We discussed that in Committee.

Value added measures are one of a range of tools alongside, for example, bench-mark information which schools have available to them to help them set realistic but challenging targets. We believe that this information will greatly enhance schools' understanding of their performance and it will help with their efforts to improve.

But there will be no compulsion on the schools to use it or to use it in any particular way. It will be for the schools themselves, perhaps in discussion with the LEAs, to decide on how best to use this and the other performance information which will be available to them. A requirement to base targets on one of these sources of information would not help to set realistic targets. It might make the process less effective. We are really continuing to argue for flexibility. I do not believe that we are doing so in conflict with "the facts" as the noble Lord expressed them, in his introduction to these amendments. I hope that he will feel able to withdraw them.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I welcome what the noble Lord has said. I hope that the House will bear with me if I am anecdotal for a few moments. When I was a headmaster and took over a new school, I used to do an analysis of its performance in every subject. As often happened, the school was weaker in certain subjects than in others. I regarded myself as successful when I had improved the school standard in those weaker subjects. I discovered the weakness in those subjects by looking at the results achieved in internal or external exams.

I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock. One would look at the discipline of the school and things like that. But in every case one would look at an existing situation and decide what one wanted to do about it. I am not saying it was the total way of dealing with the situation, but one takes two important points such as when the child leaves the junior school and when the child is 16 years of age and takes the GCSE.

I say this because it is educationally important. It is also what the citizens of this country value very greatly. I shall not dwell on some of the instructions for the

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education development plans, but they were needlessly complex. They were more within education jargon than in terms which the parents and others would understand. I shall not press the amendment. I merely state that in many ways it is a good way of judging whether standards will improve. The Government may find that, in a year or two, the guidance they have put forward for the education development plans is not so direct as they would wish it to be. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 4, line 30, after ("regulations,") insert--
("( ) show how the special educational needs policy of the local education authority will raise the achievement of children with special educational needs;").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we now come to the interests of pupils with special educational needs. Before speaking to the amendment, I would like to say how much everyone concerned with moving amendments at an earlier stage appreciates the tabling of Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, and the noble Lord, Lord Rix. That shows a great step forward. It satisfies a great deal of the general anxiety felt by people concerned with pupils with special educational needs when they read the Bill and followed its progress through another place.

Amendment No. 23 is not meant to contradict in any sense the amendment put forward by the Minister; namely, Amendment No. 27. On the contrary, it puts on the face of the Bill an example as regards the statement of purpose which is part of the education development plan. It adds the requirement that the proposals should,

    "show how the special educational needs policy of the local education authority will raise the achievement of children with special educational needs".
I believe that many people feel that local education authorities need to face up to the fact that their policies should be directed towards improving the attainment of pupils with special educational needs. They should demonstrate in their proposals how their education development plan will have that effect. It is clearly a practical example of having regard to children with special educational needs. It is something like the terminology of the amendment tabled by the Minister. It is a way of showing how "have regard to" shall be implemented in practice in the presentation of the education development plans. Therefore, it is a practical mechanism for ensuring that the education of children with special educational needs is placed firmly within the framework. I shall leave my noble friend to speak to Amendment No. 26. I beg to move.

6 p.m.

Lord Rix: My Lords, in the world of the theatre, the importance of top billing is quite straightforward. It relates to the amount of money that one will receive. If you have second, third, or fourth billing, it generally

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means that your attainments are less and that your remuneration at the end of the week is consequently reduced. I am very happy to take second, third and even fourth billing on Amendments Nos. 23, 26, 27, 79 and 142. I should like to speak to them together and, as a Cross-Bencher, to support everybody in sight.

As we have just heard, Amendment No. 23 stands first in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood. It provides a link between the education development plan and a local education authority's SEN policy. Amendment No. 26, which stands first in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, would make it a requirement that an LEA's SEN policy was annexed to the education development plan.

Amendment No. 27 stands on its own in the name of the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone. As the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, said, we are all grateful for the amendment. We are delighted to see it and we hope that it will soon be on the face of the Bill.

Naturally, I am supporting Amendments Nos. 79 and 142, which are government amendments, because my name appears to them in second billing. I am delighted that the Minister, her department and the Government have taken notice of the great stress that many Members of your Lordships' House laid on the question of bullying. It is a major step forward to see that on the face of the Bill, particularly with regard to children with learning disabilities who attend SEN or ordinary mainstream schools.

Perhaps I may again express my gratitude for these amendments to all concerned. I am sure that we shall not be seeking the opinion of the House because everybody concerned recognises the worth and the scope of the government amendments as well as those which stand in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, and the noble Lord, Lord Addington.

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