Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Lucas: Can the Minister assure me that if a college is helping a student through the burden of teaching and gaining the qualification, and is doing so by giving him a lesser teaching burden, it will be financially compensated for the reduced effectiveness of that teacher?

Lord Davies of Oldham: I can indeed reassure the noble Lord that we are providing resources. We recognise the costs on colleges which are employing newly arrived teachers who must teach fewer hours in order to prepare for the qualification. We are providing resources through the Standards Fund to meet exactly that need of the colleges.

Lord Lucas: It is my experience that many secondary schools, particularly as regards art, drama, French and other languages, have teachers with personal experience of such circumstances. I can think of schools whose teachers' work has hung in the Tate and who have entered as art teachers because they want to turn to teaching.

The principle in the clause of teachers being able to enter the profession and have time to gain a qualification is, in secondary schools with the broad curriculum we are debating, an appropriate way of going about things. Can the Minister assure me that the regulations we are able to make under the Bill will allow such a process to take place if it is considered appropriate?

Lord Davies of Oldham: The noble Lord will recognise that there are distinct differences between further education and secondary education. Further education, traditionally and throughout its existence, has made great use of staff, particularly part-time staff, with no formal teaching qualifications. Given the demands of students and the standards expected in the profession, and given our determined drive to see that standards improve, we have reached the stage where it is necessary for us to include this clause in the Bill to ensure that the opportunities are there.

So far as concerns schools, there are graduate and registered teaching programmes which are school based. Individuals receive a salary while they are training as teachers. We share the noble Lord's concerns about enticing into teaching all those who show an aptitude for it and a commitment to it but who may come, as the noble Lord rightly says, with mature experience of immense potential value to the class but lacking the formal qualifications. I entirely share the noble Lord's view, which he expressed in speaking to an earlier amendment, that we should recognise how much students value the contributions that can be made by those who have had wider experience than just the classroom in their previous occupation.

Lord Lucas: The Minister's words give hope to all those who will be thrown out of this House when the Government's plans come to fruition.

28 May 2002 : Column 1255

Lord Davies of Oldham: I do not know who is being thrown out, but anyone who is thrown out would certainly fit very well within the broad description that I gave of being an asset to any classroom.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: The noble Lord perhaps thinks that we should be training future legislators.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I am reassured that the extended timetable that was originally conceived in the further education training organisation provisions is in position.

The clause as it stands is rather bleak. It will prohibit anyone who does not have the qualifications. It must be borne in mind that the salaries available within the further education sector these days are not desperately attractive to those coming in from other occupations; and there is often an extreme shortage, particularly of people with vocational qualifications who seek to extend their career into teaching on the qualificational and professional side. The burden for such staff, having, in addition, to complete the qualification in teaching, is fairly considerable.

Nevertheless, the proposals were worked out after a considerable period of consultation with the further education sector. I am glad to have the Minister's reassurance that those proposals still stand rather than an indication that further acceleration of the timetable is envisaged. Given that reassurance, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 132 agreed to.

Clauses 133 and 134 agreed to.

Clause 135 [Wales: provision of higher education]:

On Question, Whether Clause 135 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Roberts of Conwy: This clause provides that:

    "The National Assembly for Wales may by regulations . . . prohibit the provision by an institution . . . of a course of higher education without the approval of the National Assembly".

The provision referred to is clearly provision by further education colleges.

I raised this issue at Second Reading. The Government's declared policy is to increase access to higher education courses and to the degrees and diplomas that may flow from them. Further and higher education institutions in Wales have taken the Government at their word and have provided such courses by a commendable variety of means.

The University of Glamorgan, for example, is rightly proud of its record in this field. I have before me an article by Professor Sir Adrian Webb, the vice-chancellor of the university, about creating opportunities through initiatives in higher education. He refers to the compact programme and says,

    "the compact programme is but one of many widening-access initiatives that the university is currently engaged in to achieve its goal of providing opportunities to all those who wish to participate in higher education. Other examples include providing

28 May 2002 : Column 1256

    higher education programmes in further education colleges across Wales, establishing outreach centres in the South Wales Valleys and involvement in the Community University of the Valleys".

I think that that is enough to give the Committee a flavour of the type of activity pursued not only by the University of Glamorgan but by the University of Wales and its colleges. Yet here in Clause 135, as I said, we have dark hints of prohibition and restrictions on the numbers of young people who may participate in higher education courses at further education institutions in Wales. It all seems very contrary to the Government's declared policy. The Wales Office briefing tells us that,

    "This is a safeguard against unplanned development of HE provision in FE institutions in Wales".

I am not aware, and I have yet to meet anyone else who is aware, of such unplanned development. It is hard to believe that any of the institutions could be guilty of such anti-bureaucratic behaviour. What they perhaps are guilty of is excessive zeal in implementing government policy, and someone somewhere may be alarmed at their success. We certainly do wish to know about the clause and the reasoning behind it. I should particularly appreciate some facts.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I join the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, in congratulating all those who are working on the issue of expanding opportunity. That is an extremely important point. This clause will enable the National Assembly for Wales to retain the power which it currently has under the Education Reform Act 1988 to make regulations relating to the provision of higher education by further education institutions. I think that that answers one of the basic premises underlying the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts. Schedule 22 to the Bill provides for the whole of Section 218 of the 1988 Act to be repealed, and the effect of Clause 135 will simply be to re-enact the provisions of Section 218(9)(d) and (10) in relation to Wales. I think that provides the detail of the assurance which the noble Lord seeks.

The retention of this power is considered necessary by the National Assembly as a safeguard against the unplanned development—the term which the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, picked up on—of HE provision in FE institutions in Wales. The Assembly wishes such provision to be the product of joint planning between the National Council for Education and Training for Wales, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the relevant institutions in response to assessments of learner needs in different parts of Wales.

The Assembly regards the regulation-making powers as a useful means to further encourage the councils to work more closely together to plan and provide the appropriate extent of higher education courses by FE institutions in Wales. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, will recognise that, because of the large amount of work under way, it is necessary to have the opportunity to plan together, to ensure that the courses required by some students are not duplicated while at the same time the needs of other students are missed. We require that overall attempt to plan and meet the needs of all potential students.

28 May 2002 : Column 1257

The clause is an important part of the National Assembly's plans to facilitate greater coherence in the provision of post-16 education in Wales. I say to the noble Lord that it is intended to retain, not impose, this power in order that the excellent work that has been done can be built upon and to ensure that the needs of an even wider range of students are met. Therefore, I hope that the Committee will agree that it should stand part of the Bill.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: I am grateful for the noble Baroness's remarks. She is always reassuring, perhaps deceptively so. The fact is that the clause mentions prohibition of the supply of courses. However, I am happy to accept the noble Baroness's reassurance that it does not really mean what it says and that the intentions behind the clause are good.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page