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Lord Filkin: My Lords, I am glad to say that I substantially agree, and that we will bring forward an amendment at Third Reading that will add the desirability of securing that the school workforce is fitted and trained to contribute to children's well-being—within the meaning given to the word by Section 10 of the Children Act—in those things that the agency is obliged to do. I am doubly delighted because I have, as part of the day job, responsibility for vulnerable children and well understand the importance of the provision. I hope that that is helpful.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, it is indeed helpful. I thank the Minister for that. I am sure that he was
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behind the fact that an amendment will be brought forward, because I know how sincerely he feels about the importance of protecting vulnerable children. I am delighted to hear what he has to say and look forward to seeing the new amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 74 [Membership etc. of Agency]:

[Amendment No. 94 not moved.]

Lord Hanningfield had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 95:

The Agency shall produce an annual report that shall be laid by the Secretary of State before both Houses of Parliament for affirmative resolution."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in order to speed things up, I shall not move this amendment either.

[Amendment No. 95 not moved.]

Schedule 13 [The Training and Development Agency for Schools]:

Baroness Andrews moved Amendment No. 96:

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I am sorry and will not be a moment; I was slightly taken aback by the fact that two excellent amendments on which I had very full speaking notes were not moved. Never mind; we are very pleased.

When the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, moved her amendment to Schedule 13 in Committee, I undertook to consider it further. The government amendments to which I now speak include Amendment No. 96, which was moved by her in Committee, and which she and the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, have again tabled.

The changes which the Government's amendments make are designed mainly to bring the provisions in Schedule 13 into line with current legislative practice and government accounting rules, as they would apply to a completely new non-departmental public body were one to be established now. For example, it has not been standard practice for almost a decade to oblige Secretaries of State to seek Treasury approval before setting the remuneration of members and employees of the agencies for which they are responsible. The Government's amendments remove that obligation, and leave it to the Secretary of State alone to make this determination. In those circumstances, where Treasury approval continues to be required the requirements of the government accounting rules will be sufficient to ensure that this is achieved. Another series of amendments recognises the fact that responsibility for the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme rests no longer with the Treasury but with the Minister for the Civil Service.

I should also point out, finally, that Amendment No. 100 replaces the requirement that the agency submit it accounts to the Secretary of State before the end of August after the end of the financial year to which they apply. In future, accounts will need to be submitted
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before a date determined by the Secretary of State. The purpose of this change is to provide sufficient flexibility for the agency's accounting timetable to be brought into line with the department's. The latter currently aims to produce accounts by the end of July.

In proposing these amendments, I make it clear that they are not intended to relax the financial controls that the Government exercise over the TDA for schools. I am sure that I do not need to say that, but I will. Government and accounting rules and procedures will continue to be as binding on the TDA for schools in the future as they have been on the TTA in the past. Instead, they are intended both to align procedures which apply to the agency with the current requirements of government accounting, and to provide sufficient flexibility for them to be kept in line in the future. I beg to move.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, I am overjoyed that the Government have taken on board our suggestion in relation to Amendment No. 96. Indeed, I am delighted to see that the DfES has declared a fraction of independence from the all-encompassing and ever-seeing Treasury.

I hope that such a move has not damaged the career chances as Ministers of the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, or the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, when the Chancellor of Exchequer finalises his new Opposition line-up some time after 6 May. It is perhaps a shame that heads and schools cannot so easily rid themselves of excessive interference in the management of their finances as the DFES has managed to do on this particular issue. It would be churlish of me not to welcome this move and I thank the Minister for moving her own amendment in Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Filkin moved Amendments Nos. 97 to 102:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 91 [Duty to provide information]:

[Amendment No. 103 not moved.]

Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 104:

The Secretary of State shall exercise his functions with regard to the desirability of avoiding excessive administrative burdens on governing bodies, head teachers, teachers and other school staff of all maintained schools, special schools, pupil referral units and local education authorities in England and—
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(a) shall lay before Parliament for approval an annual report detailing the general level of administration within all types of maintained schools and local education authorities and the steps both taken and planned to reduce such burdens, and
(b) the report shall include an evaluation of the effectiveness of such measures."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 104 would introduce a new clause designed to place a duty on the Secretary of State and by inference everything that her department does to reduce the level of needless paperwork and bureaucracy that schools and teachers must contend with. It would compel the Secretary of State to report to Parliament once a year on what measures had been introduced and how effective they had been in reducing the level of unnecessary bureaucracy on our schools and teachers.

We are concerned that the current level of red tape and bureaucracy in schools is stifling teachers from getting on and doing what they do best and what they must do—teach.

We on these Benches believe that the teachers' first priority must be to deliver quality education and not to please officialdom in Whitehall. Perhaps the Minister can explain if anything in this Bill will actually reduce the level of bureaucracy placed on our teachers. There is nothing whatever on the face of the Bill which addresses this key issue. We all know that one of the biggest single reasons why teachers are disillusioned with their jobs and are leaving the profession is because they often face too much red tape.

A recent edition of the Times Educational Supplement made the following, encouraging point:

It also points out that, according to a recent survey, "just over a third" of new teachers,

They blame this on the workload and the bureaucracy. Teachers who I meet express concerns about workload, not in the context of time spent teaching, but on necessary diversions that the Government have put in their way.

I and, I hope, the Government believe that we have a duty to try and control the volume of paper pumped out in the direction of schools—4,400 pages of documentation were produced last year, which is equivalent to some 17 pages per day. The danger is that useful regulations might go, rather than useless and unnecessary ones.

I challenge the Government to say that they support this amendment, and the view that something needs to be done about the pressure on head teachers and teachers and that they will do something dramatic about it. Those involved in education throughout the country will want to see solid evidence that the Government really mean to do something about this—the recent efforts have really not been enough.

Teachers want the freedom to get on and teach and to have a breathing space from the torrent of regulations that are placed upon them. They want an
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explicit and clear statutory requirement that will give some relief from what has been a clear failure of this Government who over-regulate, over-control and over-centralise education provision, even as they claim that their objective is to deregulate, decentralise and allow greater autonomy.

I hope that the Minister can support this important and much needed amendment. I beg to move.

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