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Baroness Thornton: My Lords, I cannot imagine what my noble friend the Minister means by being "spared".
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I thank him very much for that answer. I suppose in my heart I did not expect that the Government would just say "Yes, we will enact your proposal". However, I have two things to say. First, I believe that the Government will find themselves in trouble on the issue, because of the legal problems that it presents in terms of human rights legislation. That is something that they will possibly have to face, and I always think that it is better to jump than be pushed. Secondly, I thank noble Lords for the support that I have received across the House on this issue, which should indicate to the Government that there is a very broad consensus about the need to tackle the issue.

I thank the Minister, too, as he has clearly decided to engage with the issue—and I am very pleased that it is part of his day job. Now we have it on the record that he is going to have a workshop, and we shall certainly ensure that the information is sent to the Minister and his department. We shall pursue the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Walmsley moved Amendment No. 129:

In section 133 of the 2002 Act (requirement upon teachers to be qualified), for subsection (1) there is substituted—
"(1) Regulations may make provision as to the work, (to be known as "specified work") which may only be carried out at a school by a qualified teacher or other person possessing or seeking such qualifications as may be specified and as to that work which may be carried out to support or assist the carrying out of specified work by persons employed otherwise than as teachers at a school.""

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 129, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 130 and 131, which are grouped with it. All three amendments seek revisions to Sections 133 and 134 of the Education Act 2002.

Amendment No. 129 would allow for regulations identifying what is the work of a qualified teacher, alongside separate regulations identifying the work of support staff. Under Section 133 of the Education Act 2002, the Secretary of State may set out in secondary legislation the work to be carried out in a school only by a qualified teacher and the work that may be carried out by support staff and unqualified teachers.

The DfES document, Time for Standards, says that the underlying policy aim of the regulations made under Section 133 is to safeguard standards in the classroom and to preserve the role, status and overall responsibility of qualified teachers in schools. The regulations made under the section are structured currently on the basis that anyone, qualified teachers or unqualified persons, may carry out "specified work" on specified conditions. Only the conditions distinguish qualified teachers from others. That approach is really unsatisfactory; there is a vital need to define the core characteristics of practising qualified teachers so as to offer a clear distinction between their work and that of teaching assistants; otherwise, as is already apparent, the uncertainty of the current
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approach could be exploited for cost-cutting reasons in a way that may, insidiously, deny pupils the right to be taught by a qualified teacher rather than merely supervised.

I now move to Amendments Nos. 130 and 131. Earlier this year, the General Teaching Council for England expressed grave concern that under current plans qualified teachers working in the new, independently managed academies will not be required to register with the council. Although many academies may well wish, encourage, or even require, their teachers to register, that does not address the fundamental concern that all pupils whose education is publicly funded should benefit from the protection that registration of qualified teachers confers. Parents whose children attend academies are not making a conscious decision to opt out of the safeguards offered by the General Teaching Council's regulatory and professional standards framework. They are simply choosing what they consider at the time to be the local school that will best meet their children's needs. They often may not know that the teachers, or some of the teachers, in that academy are not registered.

Public interest demands that registration should be a requirement for qualified teachers working in academies. This is not just my view; it is shared by 13 national educational organisations that represent parents, governors, teachers, diocesan authorities and disability organisations as well. They have all joined together to call on the Government to take this step and to bring these teachers within the scope of mandatory regulation. For example, the Church of England education division has indicated that it will expect teachers in any academy it sponsors to be registered with the General Teaching Council. The GTC and its partners want to see a consistent approach to registration so that teachers moving between schools do not slip out of the net of professional regulation. It is welcomed that the Church of England education division takes that approach, but we cannot rely on the good will of such organisations to ensure that it happens.

David Butler, the chief executive of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations has said that he believes that parents will be deeply troubled to think that teachers in academies are not operating within the same framework of professional standards and regulation as teachers in other neighbouring schools. Worse still, a teacher who had been subject to a disciplinary order by the GTC could evade that and seek employment in an academy. Registration is an important safeguard both for parents and for the wider public interest. Amendments Nos. 130 and 131 relate to this issue. If the Government are really serious about wanting to ensure that the learning experience of children in academies is of the highest quality, I hope that the Minister will respond positively to this group of amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Filkin: The purpose of this amendment is to recast one of the key provisions of Part 8 of the Education Act 2002. Broadly speaking, this provides powers to the Secretary of State and the National
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Assembly for Wales to set out in regulations what types of staff may carry out work in what types of schools and under what conditions. This is a basis, among other things, for the national agreement to reduce teachers' workload that the Government are implementing for England and the National Assembly is implementing for Wales in partnership with school employers and all of the school workforce unions except two. The agreement has been superb in the way that the participant unions and others have worked to try to ensure that we improve the ways in which the workforce works better in schools, and it is delivering some significant results. On the face of it, Amendment No. 129 attempts to make that agreement at best difficult to implement and at worst entirely unworkable, while Amendments Nos. 130 and 131 would impinge unnecessarily on the freedoms that academies, CTCs and CCTAs were set up to enjoy.

Section 133 of the 2002 Act has brought an overdue clarity to the respective roles of teachers and other staff. Thanks to regulations made under this provision, certain types of work known as specified work, are recognised as essentially the job of qualified teachers. That work comprises: planning and preparing lessons and courses, delivering lessons, and assessing and reporting on the development, progress and attainment of pupils.

Those tasks may only be carried out without supervision by qualified teachers and certain other specified groups—such as overseas-trained teachers and people on employment-based routes to qualified teacher status. It is also possible for other types of staff, such as higher level teaching assistants, to carry out specified work—but only in order to assist or support the work of a teacher, only under their direction and supervision, and only where the head teacher is satisfied that the member of staff has the necessary skills, expertise and experience to carry out the work. In the Government's view—and that of its social partners—that is a proportionate and sensible safeguard for the quality of teaching that children receive.

Amendment No. 129 would replace this clarity with a situation that may lead to some valuable school staff no longer being able to do their current jobs. Let me give just one example. If they are no longer able to carry out "specified work", instructors with special experience—who have been a small but important part of our school system for decades, especially in the delivery of vocational subjects, languages and sport—might well have to cease to exist. At the same time, however, the amendment might make it perfectly possible for HLTA status to be included in the list of approved qualifications that would allow someone to carry out specified work without supervision.

The current form of Section 133 and the regulations made under it have not brought the widespread replacement of qualified teachers with unqualified adults that many—including some unions, perhaps—predicted. There are more qualified teachers in our schools today than at any time in the past 20 years. Instead, these
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provisions are delivering meaningful reductions in teachers' workloads—and allowing more adults to be brought into the classroom, in appropriate roles, to support the work of qualified teachers.

I turn now to Amendments Nos. 130 and 131. Amendment No. 130 would invite the Secretary of State to bring forward regulations making academies subject to the same qualifications requirements as maintained schools, in respect of the staff they employ. Amendment No. 131 would make provision to extend to qualified teachers who work in academies, also by regulations, the requirement to hold full registration with the GTC that already applies to those working in maintained schools, non-maintained special schools and PRUs.

Children who attend academies should be taught by staff with at least the same level of qualifications as those who do not. That is precisely why the funding agreements between the Secretary of State and academies set requirements as to the qualifications and health standards of the teachers they employ. Yet there is a world of difference between this approach—which makes clear upfront which conditions an academy's sponsors will have to meet—and that taken by Amendment No. 130, which would simply bring academies into the same regulatory framework as other schools. Amendment No. 131 raises much the same issues.

There are entirely legitimate concerns, which the GTC England and others have voiced, about the fact that qualified teachers who work in academies may not fall entirely within the council's disciplinary framework. When I speak of discipline, let me be clear: I am not speaking about the mistreatment of children. A teacher who has been barred by the Secretary of State—on grounds of unsuitability to work with children, or misconduct—is debarred from obtaining work in an academy. I am speaking rather of teachers whom the GTC England would bar on grounds of professional incompetence, and who would not fall within the Secretary of State's own powers to ban.

The GTCE register is, however, only one of the available means of checking the standards of a teacher's past performance. For example, a teacher moving into an academy would certainly be required to produce references from their previous employers. It is inconceivable that a previous employer would fail to mention the fact that they had been dismissed for incompetence, or that there were serious concerns in relation to that.

In addition, I can assure the House that there are certainly no bars on teachers in academies registering with the council, if they decide that it is in their interests to do so. I can also confirm that many academies have decided that it is right to require that their teachers should be registered. Moreover, the Government will continue to encourage academies to register new and existing staff with the council. I believe that this approach, rather than regulation, is the correct way forward. I apologise for the length of my answer, but I hope that has at least in part been helpful.
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