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Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I apologise to my noble friend for not dealing specifically with that point. Of course we are concerned about morale. Indeed, the work that we are doing with the STRB on teachers' earnings is related to that. We have discussed the issues of workload, behaviour and children, all of which are of great concern to us.
We are not complacent about the issues involving teachers, but teacher numbers are up by 9,400 full-time equivalents since January 2001. It is the biggest single year increase in more than 20 years. It is important as it is how we measure the strategies and policies that we have put in place. Teacher vacancies in England are down from 4,980 to 4,480. The vacancy rate has fallen from 1.4% to 1.2%. The teacher vacancy rate in London is now 2.6% as opposed to 3.5% last year, and vacancies have fallen in all the secondary shortage subjects.
Without being complacent, as I have said, we can look to some of the things that we are doing. There is more to do and morale is crucial in terms of retention. We hope that we have the right policies in place.
The noble Baroness said: I shall be brief. This important amendment will enable the STRB to include within its remit teachers employed or engaged by employment bureaux and other persons employed or engaged as teachers by private employers, providing education services under contract to LEAs or governing bodies. It anticipates the introduction of the EU directive on agency workers and the further development of cases in the European Court of Justice on pay equality for workers of different employers in the same undertaking.
The School Teachers' Review Body system, although flawed, provides an important element of transparency for teachers as it includes consultation and response to submissions by Government, teacher organisations and employers.
The amendment would benefit teachers who are currently outside the pay and conditions document and who are vulnerable to exploitation which has occurred on some occasions. For example, it would be interesting if the STRB had been able to report on opportunities and access to professional development for agency teachers. Access to free, high quality training and professional development has long been an issue for such teachers. It has been extremely difficult for agency teachers even to access national training initiatives, let alone CPD that meets their professional and career needs.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I shall respond to this grouping by speaking, first, to government Amendment No. 299. I should make it clear that this amendment represents a purely technical change to Clause 118, which is consequential on the amendments that we are making to Clause 129. I originally intended to move this amendment as part of the group covering those amendments but have acceded to the request from the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that the amendments to this clause are taken separately from those concerning teachers' qualifications.
Once the changes have been made to Clause 129, the amendment effectively ensures that the amended legislation will require all qualified and unqualified teachers to be paid under the teachers' pay and conditions document (on different pay scales) while allowing the pay and conditions of teaching assistants to be determined locallywhich, of course, is the position under the existing framework. I hope, therefore, that noble Lords will accept this amendment.
I turn to Amendment No. 298. The purpose of the existing Clause 118(3)(c) is to ensure that only directly-employed teachers are included under the pay and conditions provisions of Clause 118. By removing this, the amendment brings into national pay and conditions all teachers working in schools, including agency supply teachers.
Teachers employed by agencies are currently paid and work under conditions set by their employerthe agency. We believe that that is the right approach. We have no desire to change the position. Some teachers prefer to work in this way; they can choose the agency for which they wish to work. Therefore, to make them subject to national pay and conditions would, potentially, have damaging effects on the supply teacher market and the valuable service that agencies provide in quickly meeting schools' need for teachers. On that basis, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. Can she tell me whether the EU directive covering agency workers will have any effect on the position? It is anticipated that the EU directive will come into operation fairly shortly. As a result, I believe that there will be some knock-on effects in relation to the very issue now under discussion; namely, that agency teachers working in a particular
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I am not sure about the position regarding the EU proposal at this stage. However, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for raising the issue. Perhaps I may write to the noble Baroness and place a copy of that letter in the Library of the House. I shall also send a copy of the correspondence to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch.
The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 301 and 302. The purpose of Amendment No. 300 is to prevent the Secretary of Sate from unilaterally removing pay and conditions provisions from the review body remit. This is yet another example of centralisation and bureaucratic control on the part of this Government, a tendency much regretted on these Benches.
The inclusion of Clause 119 in the Bill appears to be to overturn the NUT's High Court success in the year 2000. The point at issue here is the Government's obligations under the International Labour Organisation Convention. The provisions in the Bill offend against the ILO conventions, even more than the status quo.
The Bill allows even fewer safeguards for teachers than those provided by the School Teachers' Review Body machinery. At least the STRB provides some transparency, as it includes consultation of, and response from, teacher organisations and employers. Any provisions affecting statutory pay and conditions should be subject to those procedures, and not merely consultation by the Secretary of State.
Although it may be reasonable to take out of the review body process those matters that are genuinely subsidiary and inappropriate for undergoing the full scrutiny of the body, there is no mechanism in the Bill for interested parties to be consulted about what constitutes a "subsidiary" matter. There may be cases where the Secretary of State considers a matter to be relatively minor while others may seriously disagree with that view.
The purpose of Amendment No. 302 is to make any guidance on how an order made under Clause 118 should be applied non-statutory, in keeping with current practice. Clause 123(3) specifies that the failure by an LEA or governing body to follow any guidance from the DfES on how an order made under this clause should be put into practice may be taken into account by a court or tribunal.
Under the current arrangements, guidance issued by the department on the provisions of the school teachers' pay and conditions document does not constitute "statutory guidance", and, therefore, failure to follow it would not necessarily be taken into account in a tribunal or court. It seems reasonable to suggest that orders made under Clause 118 should form the basis for the law, without any additional legal requirements being imposed on LEAs and governors through statutory guidance. It is unnecessary complication and has the potential for introducing confusion. I beg to move.
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