Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Walmsley moved Amendment No. 139K:

The noble Baroness said: The intention of the amendment is to probe the provision of initial staff training and professional development in academies. It seeks to test the Government's intentions regarding the role of academies and city technology colleges as training providers. Maintained schools may well be best placed to provide training for the school workforce. In fact, there was a piece in last week's Times Educational Supplement which reported that Eton was sending teachers to be trained in state schools. That was a matter of some surprise to some people.

Given that the Bill limits the definition of "relevant" to Clause 112 only, I am aware that the amendment may be technically flawed. However, we are using it as an opportunity to debate the matter, because we feel that it is important and merits further clarification and debate. If such an amendment were adopted, albeit in a redrafted form, we would be concerned to ensure that academies and city technology colleges could provide courses only if they were subject to the same quality assurance procedures as independent schools.

The TTA currently has a statutory function to accredit and fund providers of initial teacher training to those who can demonstrate that they will satisfy the criteria laid down by the Secretary of State. It is assumed that that will still be the case—but will that include academies as well?

In addition, city academies are eligible for employment-based routes into teaching. Will they continue to be eligible as providers of those routes? Quite correctly, independent schools are not eligible for salary or training grants, but are still able to apply for the employment-based routes. The cost of the qualified teacher's status assessment is normally covered by the teacher training agency. So will the academies benefit from public funds as training providers also?

Currently, if an integrated early-years centre includes a maintained nursery school, a nursery-qualified teacher can complete the induction period in that school. If an early-years centre does not include a nursery school, it cannot offer that induction period. Will the Minister clarify the position of children's centres in that respect?

Having said all that, I make it clear that the amendment is a probing one. Will the Minister clarify the situation in the respects that I have highlighted? I beg to move.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 139L and 139M. I apologise for not being here to move Amendment No. 139J; I was taken aback by the speed with which the fourth Starred Question was dealt with.
24 Jan 2005 : Column 1006

Amendments Nos. 139L and 139M would allow a teacher or other member of the support staff to receive courses in education as part of his or her training provision. That is a sensible and welcome measure; however, we believe that it may be necessary to test the semantics used in the clause.

As it stands, a teacher or a member of the support staff can be provided with a course in training by his relevant school. We feel that that implies that the training will be limited in its nature and possibly restricted to one area of the individual's daily work—for example, sending the school secretary on an IT-based course to improve skills in administration and administering the school's database. However, we are keen to test what the clause actually means by that wording.

Our amendment would incorporate the idea that a course in higher or, indeed, any nature of education could be included as part of the training. Therefore, with our amendment, it would be perfectly possible for classroom assistants to receive class-based tuition, and possibly even courses towards achieving a certificate in education, rather than merely gaining on-the-job training for one particular aspect of their present job. Our amendments would expand the definition and meaning of training provision to incorporate a far wider understanding and interpretation of the word.

I have some other questions for the Minister. How many individuals does she believe will receive some form of training under this clause each year? How will the training differ between teachers and non-teachers? Is it her understanding that the cost of such training will be met out of existing school budgets, or will schools receive additional funding to cover this welcome part of the Bill?

Baroness Andrews: I am grateful to the noble Baronesses for explaining the purpose of their amendments. It is very difficult to disagree with the intention behind any of the amendments. Although we have not discussed Amendment No. 139J, we would want to insist that any decision on training is taken by the full senior management team and that the head teacher and governors are at one on the need for training and the importance of its quality. I just wanted to put that on the record.

Amendment No. 139K would change Clause 92 to confer power to provide workforce training not on maintained schools but instead on relevant schools. The noble Baroness specifically asked whether that would cover academies. Clause 97(1) defines a maintained school as,

The amendment would widen that definition to give a power to provide training to independent schools. However, as academies are indeed independent schools, the power would be unnecessary.

The clause applies only to maintained schools because they are the only ones that need power in law to provide training. I remind the Committee that
24 Jan 2005 : Column 1007
whereas Section 12 of the 1994 Act applies only to maintained schools, that fact has not prevented independent schools participating in TDA-funded activities and in employment-based training programmes. The Government would certainly expect academies to continue to do that, and indeed we want it to continue. The wording of Clause 92 in no way prevents that being achieved.

As for whether academies can offer employment-based training, I assure the noble Baroness that they can. She asked some slightly technical questions that are not covered in my brief. I should prefer to write to her so that we can ensure that the answers are correct.

There was a question about "education" and "training". As I understand it, the one subsumes the other. Technically and historically, there has always been a distinction in vocational emphasis between education and training. However, the two terms are interchangeable. The noble Baroness asked many other rather technical questions on the nature of what can be offered, how many people will receive teacher training, under what conditions and according to what definitions, and how the training will differ. I would prefer to write to her on those points also, if I may.

With those assurances, and with further and better information forthcoming, I hope that the noble Baronesses will not press their amendments.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: I thank the Minister and look forward to receiving her letter. I thank her also for making reference to Amendment No. 139J. After all, it is the head who will have daily contact with the staff, and one may well ask how such a scheme could operate without the head's input. I am pleased with the Minister's answer. Training to improve and open new possibilities is important for all staff and for schools to grow their own talent.

Baroness Walmsley: I thank the Minister for her reply and look forward to hearing from her on the issue of children's centres and whether they will be able to provide training to the nursery-qualified teacher and whether the academies will benefit from public funds for training. I notice that she referred to academies as independent schools even though they are built with 92 per cent government money. The Minister knows that I have concerns about that. However, I look forward to her letter and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 139L and 139M not moved.]

Baroness Morris of Bolton moved Amendment No. 139N:

The noble Baroness said: Clause 92 would allow the governing bodies of maintained schools to provide training for members of the school workforce in addition to the power that they already have to provide training for teachers, and schools will be
24 Jan 2005 : Column 1008
allowed to provide such training either on their own or in partnership with other schools or training providers.

Amendment No. 139N is designed to probe how the measure would actually work in practice. We would be particularly grateful for any explanation that could be provided on how such schools would come to work together and work in partnership with others and other training providers. Paragraph (c) would allow governing bodies of maintained schools to create a new body to provide courses for training for teachers and/or other members of the school workforce. With the Committee's permission, I should like to ask a number of questions on this specific aspect of the clause.

How would such a body operate in practice? How many schools could apply to join such a body, and how? What powers and responsibility would it possess? How would it commission and pay for such training provision? Would it be free to put out tenders on a commercial basis? How would membership of the body be constituted and who would decide that? Would it, for example, include the headmaster of the relevant school? Would it be legally responsible for the quality of training? Would it be personally liable were something to go wrong? What expenses would there be, and what would be the likely cost of setting up and running such bodies on an annual basis? How would the body ensure that the quality of training was to a suitable standard and met the requirements of a particular school that may well differ from another school within the same grouping?

I have asked a number of fairly technical questions. However, I have tried to highlight just some of our unanswered queries on the clause. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page