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Lord Filkin: The amendment seeks to provide a greater statutory role for the diocesan authorities in the appointment of an inspector to inspect religious education and collective worship in the Church of England or Roman Catholic schools in England, or in Church in Wales or Roman Catholic schools in Wales. For the great majority of schools this is already custom and practice and works well. Schools already have existing close working relations with their diocese and are happy to take the recommendations of the diocese in appointing a suitably experienced and qualified inspector to undertake these inspections. Further, many dioceses actually relieve schools, at the schools' request, of the burden of arranging these inspections.

However, there are a few examples where the inspector appointed has not been of the right stuff—where their experience has been found wanting or their processes were not sufficiently rigorous to identify areas for improvement in the teaching of the faith. This does no one any good. Parents rely on these inspectors to assure them that the faith they hold is being taught well in their schools. Schools may not be provided with sufficient challenge to their teaching of the faith to help them understand how it can be improved. To that end, we agree with the principles behind the right reverend Prelate's amendments.
 
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The aim is to ensure that the inspections to be carried out in schools with a denominational character are as congruous as possible with these additional inspections. We do not want to see schools subjected to multiple inspections where it can be helped. I know that there have been fruitful discussions with Ofsted and the representatives of the faith groups on this issue. I believe that it is intended that a protocol to allow the sharing of relevant information between Ofsted and appropriate individuals, on a confidential basis, is developed. Yet that would be of little effect if those inspections were not more robust.

The Government believe in opportunity for all and the amendment would not aid those pupils in schools from other faiths. Officials from the department have been working hard with representatives from all faiths to look at how this can be achieved. No firm conclusions have been reached, but I am hopeful that the Government can support an amendment that will achieve the ambitions that we share.

In Wales, the aim is also welcomed and the situation is similar. The aim is to ensure that the inspections to be carried out are of equal rigour to those undertaken by Estyn. Similarly, officials have been working with representatives from all faiths to consider how that can be achieved. Again, conclusions have not been finalised, but we are optimistic that they will be.

Perhaps I may turn to the other amendments tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth. Amendment No. 100 concerns academies and city technology colleges which are designated as having a religious character. The amendment would create the same arrangements for the inspection of religious education and collective worship undertaken in those institutions as in maintained faith schools. The Government support the principles behind the amendment; namely, that the provision for the teaching of religious education and for a daily act of collective worship in academies should be inspected in a manner consistent with that for foundation and voluntary faith schools. We do not believe that it is necessary to place these requirements in the legislation as the same objective can be achieved by stipulating them in the funding agreement for each academy and CTC.

We are confident that all existing academies and CTCs which are designated as having a religious character and which are sponsored by the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church will willingly change their funding agreements to implement the proposed inspection arrangements. The model funding agreement will be altered so that all new designated academies will be required to follow the inspection arrangements that apply to maintained faith schools.
 
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Therefore, while I am not in a position today to bring forward amendments, I hope that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth will take some comfort from those assurances and wait in patience until Report.

Baroness Walmsley: Perhaps I may ask the Minister a question about something that he has just said. If an existing faith-based academy were not willing to change its funding contract, what would the Government do?

Lord Filkin: We would have to do something different, but that does not appear to be a problem.

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: I am very grateful to Members of the Committee who have contributed to this brief debate, and I am pleased to have the support of the noble Lords, Lord Dearing and Lord Sutherland.

In response—I am afraid that I simply cannot resist this—as the son of a spy and a reader of Trollope, an episcopal colleague of mine was interviewed for a post at Lambeth Palace. On being asked a question, he replied, "Confidentiality in the Church of England means telling one person at a time", whereupon he got the job. But I have to say that my experience of other walks of life is that this place leaks as well. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, will accept that in the spirit in which it is offered.

I am very pleased to have the Minister's reassurances, and I conclude with one or two brief remarks about academies and RE. The Church of England can be very proud of pioneering by adapting what was in the past traditional and rather wooden RE in two directions—in an ecumenical direction and an inter-faith direction—and in the context of this kind of legislation, which will call into account academies and Church and faith schools. I also refer to the new initiatives relating to the RE framework, which personally I hope will move towards a syllabus. It will mean that in the schools of the other faith communities we shall be able to expect the same kind of breadth that I am proud to say is operated by the Church of England. On that basis, I am very happy to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 47 agreed to.

Clause 48 [Procedure for inspections under section 47]:

Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 97:

The noble Lord said: We now come to the part for which all noble Lords have been waiting—the government amendments. These are minor technical amendments, which clarify two distinct prescribed periods in relation to the delivery of inspections of denominational education and collective worship in faith schools in England and Wales.
 
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The first prescribed period relates to the period within which the inspection must take place. The second period relates to the period within which the inspection report must be produced. I hope that that is clear and acceptable. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 98 and 99 not moved.]

Clause 48, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 100 and 101 not moved.]

Clause 49 [Inspection of religious education: Wales]:

[Amendment No. 102 not moved.]

Clause 49 agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Inspections of denominational education in Wales]:

Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 103:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 50 to 52 agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Inspection of child minding, day care and nursery education]:

Baroness Morris of Bolton moved Amendment No. 104:

The noble Baroness said: Schedule 7 expands the general duty of the chief inspector for England to keep the Secretary of State informed about child minding. In addition to the quality and standards of child minding, he must also keep the Secretary of State informed about how far child minding and day care meet the range of children cared for, about the quality of the leadership and management of day care and about the contribution made by such facilities to the well-being of each child.

In effect, it extends to childcare and day care the same judgment criteria now used by Ofsted in regard to the inspection of schools. Therefore, such an expansion raises a number of clear issues both from the inspectors' point of view and from that of the day care and child minding providers. There is, of course, the general concern that this is yet another growth of the inspection services in yet another area of education provision that is seemingly unwarranted and unhelpful.

However, in regard to the inspectors, the concern is not so much over the availability of inspectors, but whether the inspectors themselves will have adequate knowledge and be au fait with the particular circumstances involved in such provision.

I know that the Minister in answer to an earlier question said that inspectors would have specialist knowledge, which would be very important, but inspecting a sixth form is considerably different from inspecting a child minding centre. Yet under this system that is what inspectors will be asked to do; they will be asked to judge both. Does the Minister have any concerns that there is a risk that the inspectors are
 
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becoming too generalised without the specialist knowledge required for different circumstances? Furthermore, what sort of additional strains, both in financial terms and in manpower, will this new responsibility place on Ofsted and how will it cope without cutting back in other areas?

In relation to the day care providers, there is very genuine concern that they may be swamped by new burdens and targets that are simply impractical for them to achieve. We might be dealing here with tiny, independently operated facilities that may well cater for only two or three children and yet they will be expected to know how best to contribute to the well-being of each child. I am not saying that they do not, but I am talking about the targets that they have to achieve.

It may be possible for a 1,000-strong school, where there could well be the resources to accommodate such a requirement, but surely the Minister can anticipate some of the likely problems in regard to small day care centres. Indeed, how many owners of such facilities will know about the whole raft of legislation on well-being, let alone the official version as set out in Section 10(2) of the Children Act 2004? Therefore, what steps will the Minister take to ensure that childcare providers are made aware of those new categories on which they are to be judged? Will there be some sort of information exercise?

This seems to be very much a step too far in terms of excessive bureaucracy which is unlikely to improve the existing system. We have serious reservations about this paragraph and that is why Amendment No. 104 would remove it from the Bill.

The other amendments to this schedule are consistent with our concerns over the scrapping of the registered inspectors and would retain the status quo for registered inspectors in the inspections of early-years provision in England and would ensure a unified approach between England and Wales. I beg to move.


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