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Baroness Andrews: As the noble Baroness said, Amendment No. 139N would delete the latter part of paragraph (c) of subsection (1), which is in the same form as an exiting provision of the 1994 Act. I remind the noble Baroness that that was Conservative policy at the time. However, we are content that it should go forward.
As the Committee will be aware, schools currently may work in association with each other in a variety of formal and less formal ways for the purposes of providing teacher training. This part of Clause 92 gives them the ability to do that by forming a body with its own legal personality. For the sake of convenience, I shall refer to that body as a company. We are, however, hardly talking about ICI. These are terribly small and specific organisations designed for a specific purpose.
The main reason why schools and others might wish to act in this way might include, for example, the ability to handle grants from the TTA in situations where a consortium or company is a better arrangement, especially when none of them wants to act as the banker for the others. The effect of the amendment would be to prevent that happening. This is, however, a probing amendment and I am happy to try to answer the noble Baroness's questions.
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As I said, the provision was created in 1994 to allow companies to be formed by schools working together for teacher training. We propose to extend that to training for the wider school workforce. I think that the noble Baroness's first question was how many schools are involved. I do not have the answer, but we suspect that very few schools are involved. The power is nevertheless important as that flexibility and the make-up of a consortium that provides school-centred initial teacher training is one of its great advantages. It is very useful for schools to retain that flexibility according to what the training providers involved decide is the most convenient arrangement for their specific circumstances.
Perhaps I may work through the questions that have been asked. I shall cite for illustrative purposes the example of a school-centred initial teacher-training consortium. When we discussed Clause 72 last Tuesday, noble Lords highlighted, among other things, how important it is that schools should be closely involved in the training of the school workforce. Indeed, as it has evolved, the school-centred approach is halfway between a conventional PGCE coursewhere training is based partly in higher education and partly in the classroomand an employment-based training course, where trainees are employed as teachers in schools. There are currently about 60 SCITTsif I may use the termin operation although they cater for only about 10 per cent of trainees. School-centred trainees are legally students rather than teachers but spend a large majority of their training gaining practical experience in schools.
School-centred training usually involves a number of schools forming a consortium with a higher education institution to offer a predominantly classroom-based form of training. It is a recent development and was introduced to counter the belief that our teacher training may have been too academically based at one point and that there needed to be more classroom-centred training. It has been very useful. Unfortunately, the Bishops' Benches are empty, but I know that they would agree that it has been very useful in denominational schools as well. The TTA encourages SCITT provision by providing start-up grants of about £15,000. That is considered to be an adequate contribution towards costs. Once a SCITT is established, it is funded through grants like any other training provider.
The key fact to remember is that in most respects a SCITT constituted as a company with separate legal status would operate in exactly the same way as one constituted as a partnership. It would be bound by the terms and conditions attached under Clause 76 to grants received from the TDA and would have the same responsibilities in respect of the content and quality of the training it provided. That is extremely important. Quality of provision and the presence of robust quality assurance procedures are two of the main factors that the TTA considers before awarding grants, and which it takes into account in deciding whether to continue funding. The noble Baroness also asked whether a company of this sort would be liable
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if a person's training went wrong. Yes, it would. However, the same sort of contractual obligations and liabilities would link any sort of trainee and training provider.
The noble Baroness asked about the number of partners. There is no minimum or maximum number of partners for a SCITT, but capacity to do the job and critical mass involved in making a success of it are factors that would be taken into account by the TDA in deciding whether to award grants. Most SCITTs involve groups of schools in the same area and between which there are already good contacts. As with any other company, a SCITT provider formed as a company would conduct its business in accordance with its articles and memorandum of association. In terms of its practical dealings with the outside world, the way in which it conducts its business would, however, probably differ very little from that of one formed as a partnership. In both cases there would clearly be matters such as its initial establishment that required the consent of the governing bodies of the schools concerned.
Finally, the noble Baroness asked whether a consortium formed as a company could contract out provision. That would depend on the terms of its constitution as with any other type of training provider. I expect that many probably could although I find it hard to imagine circumstances in which a consortium whose sole purpose was to provide training would want to do that.
I believe that I have addressed most of the specific questions of which the noble Baroness was courteous enough to give us advance warning. However, I shall read her comments carefully and if I have not addressed all the questions that she asked, I shall write to her to fill in any gaps.
Baroness Morris of Bolton: I thank the Minister for her detailed reply and look forward to receiving further information if she considers that her response contains gaps. It is a probing amendment. We welcome partnership, flexibility and the practical experience gained through school-centred training. The measure builds on previous good Conservative legislation. However, it never does anyone any harm to go back, have another look and ask a few questions. I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"OFFENCE FOR AN UNQUALIFIED PERSON TO ACT AS A TEACHER
(1) The Education Act 2002 (c. 32) is amended as follows.
(2) After section 135 insert
(1) Any person who contravenes the provisions of regulations made under sections 132-135 by carrying out work specified under such regulations or by serving as a head teacher in contravention
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of regulations made under section 135 shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for not more than two years or to a fine or to both.
(2) Any unqualified person who wilfully pretends to be, or takes or uses any name, title, addition or description implying that he is, qualified or recognised by law as qualified as a teacher shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the fourth level on the standard scale.""
The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that it is against the law for a person to masquerade as a qualified teacher. The amendment seeks to provide teachers with the equivalent legal protection to their status already afforded to solicitors and other professionals. For example, noble Lords may know that it is illegal for an unqualified person to pose as a lawyer under the Solicitors Act 1974.
More importantly, the amendment will help ensure that no one will be able fraudulently to work in the name of a teacher already on the General Teaching Council register. It would also in effect ensure that any teacher who had been removed from the register for any reason could not work as a teacher under an assumed name.
Members of the Committee may not think that there is a problem in relation to this. We are more often told about fraudulent doctors than teachers. There must be something rather glamorous about the medical profession that attracts unqualified people to masquerade in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck. Doctors have their patients' lives in their hands. Teachers also have children's lives in their hands. It is very important that only people who have achieved the appropriate standard of understanding of child psychology and development, their subject matter, how to protect children and the health and safety of those children and so on, can teach.
There have been various cases of "fake" teachers in the United States. In 2002, three teachers in Oregon had their credentials revoked after claiming to hold degrees from a now defunct diploma mill in Louisiana. In 2003 in the state of Georgia, an audit was carried out of its 130,000 teachers and 11 were found to have received salary increases based on so-called "degrees" from Saint Regis University, a diploma mill in Liberia, Africa. It is understood that Alan Merrick, the registrar of the General Teaching Council, would also be in favour of the provision that we are proposing today, which has come to us from the NUT. I would be most interested to hear whether there are any good reasons why, for the sake of the children, teachers should not be protected in the same way as other professionals. I beg to move.
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