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On Amendment No. 12, we fully accept that the views of the Assembly are important and need to be

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taken account of by both the Mayor and the London Skills and Employment Board. That will be the case, and it is made clear in the draft directions, which I read out in response to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and which we have made available to the House. These state:

including the Greater London Assembly.

The draft directions also state that the strategy must include a summary of the main issues raised by those consulted and how they have been addressed, so there must therefore be a formal response to that consultation as well. However, I reiterate that we do not accept that the Assembly has a different role from that of other consultation bodies in respect of this strategy. The skills strategy will not be like the mayoral strategy set out in the Greater London Authority Act, which make up the Mayor’s strategic framework for London. Rather, the role of the London Skills and Employment Board is to formulate a skills strategy for Greater London that sits within the framework of legislation that concerns the Learning and Skills Council and its functions in relation to education and training. The Learning and Skills Council will be under a duty to carry out its functions in accordance with the skills strategy. We believe that this makes it a very different strategy from the mayoral strategies.

The skills strategy for London will be produced by the Mayor and the London Skills and Employment Board working together, with the Mayor as its chairman. The board will be under a duty to comply with directions and to have regard to guidance given by the Secretary of State, and the skills strategy will form part of the national skills strategy. All this means that it is different in kind from the Mayor’s other strategies. For this reason, although we believe it right that the assembly should be consulted, it would be wrong to say that the assembly’s role should be exactly the same with regard to the skills strategy as with the mayoral strategies in the GLA acts.

On Amendment No. 13, we have considered this point further. It is still our view that it would be unduly prescriptive to set out in regulations or directions whether and how the public and press should be given access to meetings and documents of the London Skills and Employment Board. If the noble Baroness were willing to withdraw her amendment, I can undertake to seek to develop guidance on the need for transparency and openness in the conduct of the business of the board. On the board’s actual practice, although as she said the early meetings have been held in private, I understand that as the members of the board become more accustomed to their new role, it is likely that they will want to move towards having meetings in public rather than in private. If we were to develop guidance of the kind I have just indicated, this would give them a strong lead in this direction.

There is no disagreement between us about the desirability of having meetings in public wherever possible. However, we believe this decision should be left to the judgment of the board members, most of

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whom are London employers and well aware of their responsibilities to the wider community in their city and anxious to serve it. Guidance is a better route to go down than directions of the kind envisaged by the noble Baroness in her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, the Minister says that he will seek to develop guidance. I welcome those words but is that a commitment to there being guidance, or an assurance that the matter will be further considered? I hope that it will be the former.

Lord Adonis: My Lords, it is an assurance that the matter will be further considered. I undertake to come back with our formal, proposed way forward before Third Reading. The noble Baroness will then be free to bring the matter back to the House if she is not satisfied with our proposed course of action.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful for that and thank the noble Baroness for her support. I am in danger of repeating what I said in introducing both amendments. I think I anticipated the Minister’s arguments. I am sorry that he feels unable to accept that there is a particular role for the Assembly to contribute to the development of the strategy. The Mayor will shortly have new duties in, for instance, housing and climate change. Those are not matters where the Government are going to leave him entirely to his own devices, so I do not see the distinction that the Minister sees.

I am grateful for what the Minister says on taking forward openness and transparency. I feel slightly uncomfortable in even having to raise the matter, and do not want it to be thought that I do not have confidence in the individual members of the board. Having had, over a period of many years, dealings with people from different backgrounds, I have become entirely used to the different ways we all approach public duty. Their commitment is no less, but the customs which they apply are very different. Having said that, and thanking him for looking at the point on transparency, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 13 not moved.]

Clause 6 [Duty in relation to diversity and choice]:

Lord Northbourne moved Amendment No. 14:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is about the social and emotional needs of some of the students at FE colleges. If the House will forgive me, it may be helpful to explain where I am coming from. In doing so I can explain what I am asking for and why.

My knowledge and experience in this area derives from the 16 years I spent as chairman of Toynbee Hall’s youth department, and particularly from my participation for three or four weeks each year in organising and delivering outdoor activity programmes for young people with learning difficulties, mainly

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those with emotional and behavioural problems. In the process, I got to know quite a lot about the needs of these young people. A large proportion of them, probably nine out of 10, came from dysfunctional and sometimes chaotic families. Quite a number had been neglected or abused.

4.15 pm

What most of these young people wanted above all was an adult they could trust and who cared about them. They wanted not a department or a service but a person whom they could rely on to be there when needed. Most of these young people had failed at school, usually because they had had a bad start, not having had any educational support from their families. They got behind, they got discouraged, they found it humiliating, and so it went on. Most of them ended up truanting or sitting at the back of the class, raising Cain.

Interestingly, some of these young people, who had rejected the school environment, were prepared to be persuaded to have a go at a course in an FE college. They perceived it as an adult activity, they perceived some of the courses as relevant to their needs, and were prepared to have a go. These are what are called hard-to-reach young people—they do not walk through a door easily. It is crucial that if such young people walk into an FE college, we do everything we can to help them make a success of it. We must help them cope socially and emotionally, and to organise their life. Above all, we must encourage them, because self-confidence is often terribly lacking.

That is what I mean by pastoral care. If they do not get that care, many of those young people will fall out of college, revert to petty crime, rent-a-mob, running drugs, climbing up trees to stop the bulldozers, or running cigarettes across the Channel—I have heard all those stories. Then they will go on to serious crime and the revolving door of prison, unemployment and crime. That is why I want pastoral care to be on the face of the Bill.

The Minister wrote me an extremely helpful letter, for which I am very grateful,. It gives a very full picture. The difficulty with Report is that if I leave the Minister to speak his own brief, other noble Lords who want to speak will not know what he wrote to me. I shall briefly summarise the noble Lord’s comments but am quite prepared to be told that I have got it wrong.

The first several paragraphs of the Minister’s letter refer to various other pieces of legislation which could empower a Government to bring pressure to bear on further education colleges and the Learning and Skills Council to provide pastoral care and other help to emotionally and behaviourally disturbed young people.

I am not comfortable with any of those references. The two most important points are made at the end, when the noble Lord points out:



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That is good, but that White Paper proposal has not appeared in the Bill. Perhaps the Government have thought better of it, which is why they have not included it in the Bill. We cannot rely on a White Paper.

The other important point is that Ofsted’s Handbook for Inspecting Colleges has a marvellous list of things that must be inspected. It includes extensive guidance for inspectors, and inspection criteria include,

and the emotional development of learners. I just eat up things like that—I love the idea of them. But those criteria are only for Ofsted. I think that I understand that Ofsted will no longer make regular three-yearly visits to every school and every further education college, but will visit only occasionally when there is some cause for concern. I am not entirely happy that the fact that Ofsted is carrying out such a thorough inspection will solve the problem that we are looking at, but I shall listen with interest to the Minister.

However, I am pleased that Ofsted’s brief in this respect represents the Government’s point of view and that the Government are thinking in the same way as me: they want to do what I believe is right. The only question is whether we should not incorporate this in primary legislation now. I beg to move.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment No. 15, which stands in my name, but I support the significant points concerning pastoral services that have just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, speaking most movingly, not least from his personal experience in FE. With him, I ask the Minister to ensure that the review of pastoral arrangements, including multi-faith chaplaincy, which is commended in the White Paper published last year to which he referred, is then transformed from the vision of a White Paper into the reality of legislation.

As I and others from across the House have said at all the stages of this Bill, there is more at stake than pastoral arrangements alone, important though they are. My amendment would remove an historical anomaly whereby 16 to 19 year-olds in schools have an entitlement to provision for their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development but 16 to 19 year-olds who are in colleges do not. Such entitlement is about more than pastoral matters; it relates to the whole of college provision, to a college’s ethos and inclusivity, and to the extent to which it meets the needs of all young people in college of whatever faith or none.

It simply cannot be right that young people at this crucial and vulnerable age who are in colleges have no space within the curriculum, or in enrichment or other activities, to explore the important questions about meaning and purpose in their lives and about the values, beliefs and faiths in our society, and that that omission occurs simply because they happen to be following a vocational course or, in some cases, an A-level course in a college rather than in a school.



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I realise that this is not the moment for a great debate about the current moral difficulties of this generation of young people. We need time to absorb the lessons of, for example, the United Nations report on childhood. However, we need to ponder the messages that come from multi-faith chaplaincies in colleges about young people who are very interested in faith and values but who lack the moral compass to which earlier generations of young people may have had access. Some of the young people who are being drawn into a violent gun culture in places such as Peckham, or in Moss Side in my diocese, or some of the young people who are on hard drugs in places all over the country or who indulge in escapist binge-drinking on a Saturday night, are likely, if they are in any form of post-16 education, to be in colleges rather than anywhere else.

We should salute the FE colleges for the way in which they support these students and for the way in which they are attracting increasing numbers of the so-called NEET students—students not in education, employment or training—who are often from marginalised groups and deprived areas.

We should make absolutely sure—and this means having some sort of legal duty or entitlement—that the colleges have spiritual, moral, cultural and social development at the heart of any provision, especially in relation to employability skills. Employability is not only about technical and practical skills; employers are often quoted as saying that their main requirements from young employees, in addition to a basic level of skills, are qualities such as reliability, honesty, self-confidence and a sense of right and wrong. These are core human values, as I am sure noble Lords will agree, which have always been directly linked to the values and traditions of the faiths, whether Christianity or the other great religions, and to the great humanist traditions.

As noble Lords noted in Committee, churches and faiths are at one with the British Humanist Association in championing spiritual and moral education in FE colleges through the LSC-funded project, All Faiths and None. I say clearly from the Bishops’ Bench that engaging with faith and non-faith traditions is an essential part of every young person’s development and training for skills. If this or any Government convey the impression that all that matters in life is economic prosperity and technical skill, there will be sad consequences for society and young people. Indeed, we are already seeing those consequences in the confusion, disaffection and sometimes depression among the young.

To refer again to the United Nations report, I see it as no shame at all that 30 per cent of young people have so-called “low ambitions” in the areas of technical and vocational skills such as construction, engineering, IT, health and caring services. My younger daughter is training as a nurse at the moment. These are not low aspirations—and even if they happen to be called so-called “low ambitions” they have just as much value as academic achievements. We need to show young people in colleges that they deserve equality of esteem and entitlement with those young people who are following the academic route in schools.



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On this Bench, we have taken on board the Minister’s comments in Committee that this Bill is about the structure and organisation of FE rather than the curriculum. I withdrew the earlier proposed amendment, which might have placed a duty on colleges in respect of the curriculum. But what I suggest through this amendment is that the LSC should have regard, as part of its brief, to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural needs of students as well as to the other important aspects of their education and training. A modest signal given now in this Bill indicating the broader overall purposes of further education would correct the historical anomaly to which I referred, whereby the deeper needs of students and the values and faiths of our society appear to be a matter for 16 to 19 year-olds only if they are in schools, not colleges. That simply cannot be right.

4.30 pm

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, before speaking to my Amendment No. 49, which is in this group, I shall say a word about the other two amendments that have just been proposed.

On the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, I absolutely agree with him about the needs of the group of young people to whom he referred. Those who have dropped out of school very often find that they are treated very differently in a college and respond well to that. It is important that their pastoral needs are taken care of. However, I echo the words that the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton, used in respect of one of my earlier amendments, in that I think that this is a matter for the colleges, rather than for the Learning and Skills Council.

On the amendment of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, we on these Benches believe that it is right that the anomaly should be corrected—that anomaly exists, there is no question about it. Provision should be made in colleges for the spiritual, moral, cultural and social needs of young people. My only concern is whether the right reverend Prelate’s amendment would place a duty on all colleges to have chaplaincies of every faith that operates in this country or else be accused of discrimination. Can the Minister respond to this concern of mine? Obviously, this sort of work needs to be made available to young people, but in my view they should not be forced to take part in it once they are over the age of 16.

Amendment No. 49 would place on colleges of further education the same duties to promote the well-being of students as the Children Act 2004 gives to schools; it would also give the same duties to promote community cohesion as the Education and Inspections Act 2006 puts on schools. Given that many pupils of the same age—14 to 19 year-olds, as we have just heard—attend both sorts of institution, we on these Benches see no justification for colleges not having these duties. When the national vocational diplomas get into full swing, even more of these young people will attend FE colleges. Even now, in areas where students from many schools do some or all of their A-levels at FE colleges, a different set of

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duties applies to them in the two kinds of educational institutions that they attend. This cannot be right.

When the Education and Inspections Act 2006 passed through this House, we had long and interesting debates about the integration or otherwise of pupils of different faiths in different kinds of schools. Some of your Lordships were keen on single-faith schools and others were against them, on the basis that they did not assist people of different faiths to get to know one another and to get on together. The compromise hatched by the Government in the face of this situation—with the assistance of the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, and others—was to allow faith schools to continue, but to give all schools the duty to promote social cohesion. Some of us will be very interested to see how Ofsted inspects them on that duty, and whether the criteria will include their admissions policies. In colleges, however, you usually get a much more mixed population. One might think that it would be easier for colleges to fulfil this duty. Whether or not this is the case, it is vital that we have coherence and strength of message about the importance of social cohesion and the five outcomes of the Every Child Matters programme.

Many students at FE colleges are, indeed, still children and their well-being must be served just the same, whether they attend college or school. If the Government accept this principle, and my amendment or something like it, we would need an amendment to Section 125 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 to allow colleges to be inspected, as well as schools, on the new duty. Perhaps the Minister will think about that when considering my amendment.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, having been moved by the first two speeches and having a certain sympathy, too, with the approach of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, which had echoes of previous legislation in which we were all involved, I very much hope that the Minister will reassure us that all this can be done in a way that is obvious and visible to all colleges, and is not just assumed to be—as this Bill is, apparently—about structure and organisation rather than content. The points made by my noble friend Lord Northbourne about these young people who, for whatever reason, have got into difficult circumstances are very important.

Funnily enough, this morning I was at a breakfast organised by Plan where I heard about a young man who had been in and out of unlawful activity. He used the gym as a method of working out. In that process, he came across a young person suffering from Down’s syndrome. They established a good relationship and this brought out the best side of the young man, who stopped offending and went on to become an adviser on such young people for a local authority. That is a one-off but I refer to the spiritual side, the whole community involvement side and the facilities that should be available for the young people whom we are discussing.


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