Baroness Blatch: I rise to speak to my amendment in this group. The whole point of tabling my amendment is to try to elicit some honesty in policy and much greater clarification. We seek to remove regulations which provide a specification for work carried out in the classroom by a person not qualified to be a teacher.
What is the distinction between an existing classroom assistant and an assistant described under this part of the Bill? For example, could it be that under Clause 129 a teaching assistant could be employed alongside an assistant who works within distinct and different parameters? What is it that under this Bill a teaching assistant under this Bill can do that cannot be carried out by an assistant under the present statute?
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The noble Baroness has already spoken to her amendments and has said absolutely nothing and described nothing that cannot be done by an existing teaching assistant. Teaching assistants can work with a single child and do, in the phraseology of the Minister in answer to me, "work of a teaching nature". That can be undertaken by a teaching assistant at this moment under the present regulations working with a single child, a group of children, taking a group of them outside the classroom and working outside.
I am going to press the Minister very hard to tell us today what it is that has elicited these clauses of the Bill. If the difference is that under the Bill an assistant will work within a framework set by a qualified teacher, then what in the framework will extend the use of a teaching assistant? At present teaching assistants work to qualified teachers. They perform tasks set by a qualified teacher and work under their supervision. Sometimes that is a formal process and sometimes it is more informal.
The reply to my first question as to what was the distinction was brief. It was that a classroom assistant, as envisaged under Clause 129 of the Education Bill, will be required to work under a framework set by a qualified teacher when work of a teaching nature is undertaken. In comparison with present arrangements that will add a clear assurance that adequate supervision is in place. Adequate supervision is in place now and therefore that cannot be the distinction that the noble Baroness is talking about.
I asked a further question as a result of the first answer I received. In a slightly fuller reply the noble Baroness said that Clause 129 provides for regulation where teaching assistants and others such as further education teachers who are not qualified as school teachers carry out specified work which could be described as work of a teaching nature. The principal teaching duties will be outlined in the regulations following consultation.
The Government must have in mind what they intend to put in that consultation paper. The answer continued by saying that regulations will also ensure that teaching assistants always operate under the supervision of a qualified teacherthat happens nowwhere supervision may include a qualified teacher being present in the classroom. That is the first hint that we are talking about assistants working in the classroom without a qualified teacher being present.
Any policy developments in relation to teaching assistants taking a full class on their own would first need to be the subject of public consultation. So it is the Government's intention to consult on the basis of a teaching assistant taking a class on their own. The reply continued by saying that the requirement that they operate under a qualified teacher's supervision would remain in place. But where would that teacher be? The teacher could be out of the school altogether.
Work of a teaching nature can already be carried out. Work with small groups of children or with a single child, or taking children out of the classroom and working to a task set by a qualified teacher do not require legislation. Whether one is for or against the
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principle of using assistants in the classroom under the new guise, it is important that if the Government intend them to take whole classes without qualified teachers being present, they should say so.
The only guide we have had to this policy is the policy statement. That has been helpful in giving some insight into the Government's thinking. Paragraph 2.1 of the policy statement states:
"It re-enacts with modifications provisions relating to initial teacher training in the repealed section 218 of the Education Reform Act 1988".
I wish to know what modifications they are. Paragraph 2.2 states with reference to Clause 128:
"This is not a new power and there is no change to the current policy".
Therefore, if it is not a new power and there is no change to current policy, why is it in the Bill?
Paragraph 2.3 provides:
"Although there are no plans to amend the regulations, new requirements made under the regulations are due to come in force shortly".
What are they? Where are they codified? And where can I read about them?
Paragraph 3.2 states:
"Regulations made under clause 131 would require all schools to have a head teacher with qualified teacher status".
But my understanding is that the law will require all head teachers not simply to have qualified teacher status, but to have a head teacher qualification. The Minister has already referred to that coming into effect. The paragraph goes on to state that:
"Other staff in schools would work within this framework. Clause 129(1) enables the Secretary of State to provide by regulations that specified work may be carried out in a school only by a qualified teacher".
Paragraph 3.4 reads:
"The specified work would include aspects of teachers' professional duties in respect of which there is no statutory requirement for qualified teacher status".
What does that mean? Can I have an explanation of it? The final sentence in paragraph 3.4 provides:
"Unqualified staff would also be able to assist qualified teachers in carrying out their professional duties, but the appropriate qualified teachers would take primary responsibility".
They can do that now.
Paragraph 3.6 states:
"The key condition to be satisfied before unqualified staff may carry out certain professional duties would be the establishment of a management framework within which unqualified staff must work".
Does that apply to assistants under Clause 129? What statute will the present teaching assistants come under? Will they carry on as before? What are "certain professional duties"? The final sentence in paragraph 3.6 reads:
"To take another example, the regulations will allow suitably trained classroom assistants to supervise pupils and to deliver scripted lessons, or to take small groups of pupils for reading practice, within a framework set by the classroom teachers".
My goodness, that is a real revelation. They already take children for reading practice. In fact, not only do teaching assistants employed by the school do that, but parents come in to do that in the classroom. I am totally baffled by that part of the Bill.
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Paragraph 4.4 provides:
"Regulations under clause 130 will depend on those made under clause 129. Their timing will be considered in consultation with the General Teaching Council for England".
Again, can I have an explanation of what paragraph 4.4 means?
Paragraph 5.1 reads:
"The main effect of this clause is to provide regulation-making powers that will enable the Secretary of State to make it compulsory, for those coming new to headship, to hold a professional qualification".
That is already on the statute book. We are told that that will come into effect shortly. It goes on in the same paragraph to state:
"There will be a wide consultation on the proposals and underpinning regulations, which is proposed for spring 2002".
Unless I have my calendar wrong, spring 2002 has been and gone and we are now in summer 2002. It continues:
"It is not expected that any regulations will be laid before the autumn".
We are on our way to the autumn now, so it would be helpful to know whether that was just a typing glitch. The last sentence provides:
"The detail of the attached illustrative regulations could well change after consultation".
I have no detailed attached illustrative regulations. It would be helpful if I could have a copy of them.
Paragraph 5.2 states:
"Clause 131 also provides for the regulations to stipulate that a person will serve as a headteacher if they have qualified teacher status. This is consistent with previous and current policy".
Can I ask for a final definition of the time by which that will be achieved?
Paragraph 6.1 reads:
"Clause 132 re-enacts from Section 218 of the Education Reform Act the power to make regulations requiring teachers in further education to have qualifications".
For what reason is it being re-enacted? Is it either because there is a modification to it or is it simply a re-enactment for the sake of it? It would be helpful to know what that means.
Paragraph 8.1 states:
"Clause 134 re-enacts existing powers from Section 218, enabling regulations to be made to ensure that courses of initial teacher training for future education and for newly appointed FE principals are approved by the Secretary of State".
Why re-enact if the powers already exist in law? I have been asking that question all day. All it does is to repeat existing law unless there is a modification that we are missing. Not only should it have been in this policy note, but it would certainly be helpful to know what the distinction is.
Paragraph 9.1 almost defies belief. With regard to Clause 140, it provides:
"This clause does not introduce a new power, nor does it change the current policy".
So why is it there?
Paragraph 9.3 states:
"Paragraphs (1)(c) and (2) in Clause 140 provide for the Teacher Training Agency to continue to accredit teacher training courses and allocate the number of teacher training places to Higher Education Institutions".
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"This clause also provides for the General Teaching Council to take over the Secretary of State's duty to approve QTS when this legislation comes into force".
Again, why if they already have this power does it need to be repeated?
My final comment on the policy paper relates to paragraph 9.4. It provides:
"Clause 140 paragraph 3 provides the Secretary of State with the power to direct the TTA to achieve particular targets".
How will that be done? It is only fair that all those teacher representativesthey have been referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharpthe NUT and other teaching bodies, are told whether they are to be substitute teachers. If they are, then come clean and say so. If they are not, then please tell us what they will be able to do that a classroom assistant cannot do at the moment? This is an important group of amendments. It is important that we get some answers to our questions.