Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Bach: The best I can do is to repeat what I have already said. The remit may be extended. Clause 50(1)(e) already mentions the possibility of using this power to prescribe the training of further education teachers. I stress that we see this as a possibility, but it will be sensible to determine the extent to which ALI will be involved in new areas only once ALI is established and able to demonstrate its capacity. That is about as far as I can take the matter this evening.

Baroness Blatch: I am grateful for that response as far as it goes, but the provision does not refer to further education teachers but simply to teachers. Does it mean only further education teachers or lecturers, in which case why does it not say so?

Lord Bach: It is intended to mean all teachers in the post-16 age group.

Baroness Blatch: It does not say that either. The provision now reads,

If it refers to teachers or lecturers of 16-plus students that is rather different. If one is talking about those who are trained to teach in schools then they are teachers of 11 to 16 year-olds, not just 16-plus. For example, when teachers are under training for secondary education, is it intended under this Bill that they should be inspected by ALI?

Lord Bach: I am reminded that we are talking here of further education teachers. I have now repeated myself two or three times.

Baroness Blatch: The noble Lord may have repeated himself. In the spirit of Pepper v. Hart, it will be on record that the Government mean further education. If that is so, the Government should promise to table an amendment to make that absolutely clear beyond a peradventure. If it is not clear perhaps I should table an amendment myself. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Addington moved Amendment No. 186A:

    Page 20, line 28, at end insert--

("( ) facilities for providing information, advice or guidance about education or training or connected matters secured by the Council under section 12(5) of this Act or by the Secretary of State under section 9 of the Employment and Training Act 1973 for persons over the age of 19").

15 Feb 2000 : Column 1166

The noble Lord said: The amendment concentrates on adult career and course guidance. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, used the expression "a dog's breakfast". If one is charitable one could use the term "guidance" as being "the longest salad bar in the world". Everyone seems to be undertaking work on adult guidance and course guidance.

It is more difficult to give guidance to adults because they may not have the same structure of career goals. The amendment aims to bring adults within the remit of the ALI. The initials "ALI" make me think of a distinguished boxer rather than an inspectorate!

The Government give money for certain aspects of this area. However, the more I read regarding the amendment the more confused I became. Surely the inspectorate oversees the quality of advice given and therefore we may achieve a more coherent system. Adults will always have more diverse personal circumstances, employment histories and needs. They may be looking for occasional work, part-time work career choices, career breaks and so on. It will always be a more difficult area. Some careers companies choose whether they will take on adults as part of their remit.

I believe that the amendment is a step forward in clarifying the position. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: As the noble Lord explained, Amendment No. 186A would place the inspection of information, advice and guidance about education and training within the remit of the adult learning inspectorate. We intend, however, that the inspection and quality assurance of information, advice and guidance provision should be carried out by the independent Accreditation Board that was set up last year by the Guidance Council with support from my department. So there is an existing body with specialist expertise available to carry out this work.

Providers of guidance in receipt of public funds will be required to comply with the Guidance Council's quality standards, which command wide support among practitioners. The role of the Accreditation Board, in return for a fee from individual providers, will be to assess whether those providers do indeed comply with the relevant standards.

There are several reasons why it is most appropriate to secure the inspection and quality assurance of information, advice and guidance for adults through the route I have mentioned. First, the delivery of information, advice and guidance for adults is extremely diffuse. It is delivered by an extremely wide range of organisations, including community and voluntary organisations and libraries as well as employers. So it is quite unlike much of the other provision that is being inspected. The plans we have been discussing with the Guidance Council are based on the assumption that up to 1,500 provider organisations will need to be accredited between now and the end of 2001-02.

We need a light-touch accreditation regime of the kind that is already in operation. Placing the relevant responsibility with ALI would increase significantly

15 Feb 2000 : Column 1167

the number of organisations with which the inspectorate would have to deal, for little obvious gain. Secondly, and most importantly in responding to the noble Lord, information, advice and guidance is a specialist activity. Many of those providing information, advice and guidance are not learning providers. They operate in a quite different context.

Thirdly, the arrangements with the Guidance Council that I have described are already in place and are now established. Placing responsibility for inspecting that provision with ALI would delay the implementation of a good, high quality regime for this area. I do not believe that that would be in the interests of clients.

Following that explanation, which I hope has been helpful, perhaps I may urge the noble Lord not to press the amendment.

Lord Addington: There is no real disagreement that there is a problem. The Government believe that the independent Accreditation Board set up by the Guidance Council is the correct way forward.

I should have preferred a more central and holistic approach which seeks to bring together the many outside bodies into one unit. The Minister referred to libraries. That makes me think of the numerous leaflets that are handed out in place of a proper guidance service.

However, the Minister meets me at least half way in our thinking. I shall consider whether at a later stage we can improve upon the provision. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 187 not moved.]

Clause 50 agreed to.

Clause 51 [Functions of the Inspectorate and Chief Inspector]:

[Amendment No. 188 not moved.]

Clause 51 agreed to.

Clause 52 agreed to.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford moved Amendment No. 189:

    After Clause 52, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The Chief Inspector of Adult Learning may, on his own initiative, conduct an inspection of--
(a) the quality and availability of a specified description of education or training, in a specified area of England, for persons who are aged 16 or over;
(b) the standards achieved by those receiving that education or training; and
(c) whether the financial resources made available to those providing that education and training are managed efficiently and used in a way which provides value for money.
(2) The Chief Inspector of Adult Learning must carry out such an inspection if asked to do so by the Secretary of State.
(3) If the Learning and Skills Council or a local education authority has applied financial resources in respect of education or training which is being inspected under this section, the inspection

15 Feb 2000 : Column 1168

may extend to considering the manner in which the Council or that authority has applied those resources and whether they have been applied in a way which provides value for money.
(4) The education or training that may be made the subject of an area inspection is any education or training within--
(a) the Adult Learning Inspectorate's remit; or
(b) the remit of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools for England.
(5) If, in connection with an area inspection, the Chief Inspector asks Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools for England for advice on a matter relating to education or training within his remit, he must give such advice as he considers likely to be appropriate for the purposes of the inspection.
(6) A person providing education or training which is the subject of an area inspection must provide the Chief Inspector with any information reasonably asked for by him in connection with the inspection.
(7) Any local education authority whose area, or part of whose area, is within the area which is the subject of an area inspection must provide the Chief Inspector with such information as the Chief Inspector may reasonably ask for in connection with the inspection.
(8) "Area inspection" means an inspection under this section.").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 190 and 191 and to the Motion that Clauses 62 to 64 shall stand part of the Bill.

The purpose of these amendments is to place on the Chief Inspector of Adult Education a responsibility, analogous to that given to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England, to initiate and undertake area inspections which relate to his remit of inspecting all further and adult education institutions in England.

Our reasons for putting forward these amendments are similar to those which I have already discussed in relation to amendments that we have tabled for extending the adult learning inspectorate's remit to all further and adult education institutions outside the school environment.

It may be obvious that the learners, the teachers and the planning and delivery of learning opportunities for adults all differ significantly from schools. The factors which shaped the approach, methods and style of Ofsted are not the same as those which have shaped the existing Further Education and Funding Inspectorate and the Training Standards Council Inspectorate. Ofsted's experience of inspecting post-16 education outside schools is limited and it has hitherto shown itself to have little interest in developing its existing remit to inspect adult education.

The 1992 Further and Higher Education Act specified that the Chief Inspector,

    "shall have a general duty of keeping the Secretary of State informed about the quality of education provided in local education authority institutions; the educational standards achieved in such institutions, and whether the financial resources made available to such institutions are managed efficiently".

This is not a role to which Ofsted has attached much priority. Between 1992 and 1998, Ofsted conducted just 12 inspections of local authority adult and community education. During 1998 and 1999, Her Majesty's Inspectorate carried out full inspections of just three LEA adult services. Her Majesty's

15 Feb 2000 : Column 1169

Inspectorate also inspected access to adult learning in 13 local authorities and family learning in 28 authorities. This contrasts with 4,520 Section 10 inspections in that year: 3,508 of primary schools, 704 of secondary, 239 of special and 69 of pupil referral units.

In contrast, in its first year of operation, the Trading Standards Council carried out 300 inspections of work-based training between May 1998 and February 1999 in 14 different occupational areas ranging across agriculture, manufacturing, engineering, retailing and health care.

It is for these reasons that these amendments seek to give the new adult learning inspectorate powers to conduct area inspections, so as properly to ensure that, whatever the level of public funding provided by the learning and skills council, area inspections can be carried out to investigate the coherence of provision within the area. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page