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We are also asking Sir Peter to advise us on the design of effective catch-up schemes in maths, which will perform a role similar to that of the Every Child a Reader programmes. As the noble Baroness and I constantly say in exchanges across the Chamber, we want the catch-up to be as limited as possible because we have got it right first time. We want to ensure that, by using effective phonics programmes for teaching reading and effective programmes for teaching numeracy, we steadily and dramatically reduce the proportion of those in the earliest primary years who fall behind.
That links, of course, directly into personalised learning, an issue raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. I noticed that in another place her colleague David Laws, who is new to education, said about personalised learning that he now understood what the educational jargon meant; he thought that it was what teachers had been doing for 50 years, which, of course, it isevery teacher seeks to personalise their provision. However, small-group tuition, programmes for gifted and talented pupils, a much wider array of after-school activities and so on are all expensive areas of educational provision and it is important to consider what we are proposing in terms of personalisation hand in hand with the increased resources that we are making available to schools. As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, it is only by providing more resources to schools that it is possible for them to become 10-hour-a-day institutions that offer a whole programme of after-school activitiesincluding the arts, sport and so on, which were not present beforeas well as childcare and other provision of that kind. We are seeking increasingly to personalise provision as we provide more resources in ways that simply were not possible before, because the resources were not there to provide smaller-group tuition, a wider curriculum and a much richer range of after-school activities.
The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, asked about the national council. I cannot tell her precisely how much it will cost, but I can say that it will be lean and mean. We do not intend it to be a great drain on the public purse; it will need only the resources necessary
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The reduced prescription that we are talking about, in the key stage 3 review whose conclusions will be published shortly, is available not just to a small number of schools that, for example, apply for the power to innovate, which the noble Baroness mentioned. It will apply to all schools, so that we give greater flexibility in the development of the curriculum, including a vocational work-related curriculum for those young people for whom it is suitable beyond the age of 14.
The noble Baroness rightly said that the introduction of the new diplomas is an immense challenge. I do not minimise the challenge; it is one of the biggest things that we will be doing in education over the next period. It is important that we get it right. Personalisation is not simply about additional resources, but also about having a more fit-for-purpose curriculum. If we are honest and look at the history of education policy in this country over the past 50 years, we see that the area in which we have been weakest is vocational and work-related skills and making them properly available in schools.
Lord Dearing: My Lords, I apologise to the Minister for arriving half way through his Statement. I warmly welcome the Council for Educational Excellence under his chairmanship with the Prime Minister. I hope the terms of reference will not be lean, but that they will be wide enough to encompass all issues of concern to the successful education of the child, which is the spirit of his department.
On the membership of his council, in the light of what he said in his Sir John Cass memorial lecture, has the Minister thought whether there might be any advantage in having one or more overseas members, in the light of their successful achievements, from which we can probably learn?
Lord Adonis: My Lords, the noble Lord, as ever, makes helpful suggestions. We shall consider the issue of an overseas member. We study overseas practice carefully and, as the noble Lord said, I have been looking particularly at the educational progress of Pacific Rim countries recently to see what we can learn from them.
I should correct one point that the noble Lord made. When I said in the Statement that I would be chairing the council along with the Prime Minister, I was repeating a Statement made by my right honourable friend. For greater accuracy, I point out that he will be chairing the council and I will be one of his minions in attendance.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, these are great days, with so many Conservative policies being taken up by the Government and so many of the Governments policies taken up by the Liberal Democrats, who are asking for more league tables. These are wonderful timesand the Minister is still here, which is the crowning pleasure for all of us.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, there has to be a fly in every ointment, I suppose. Given what was said in the Statementthe greater emphasis on maths, the relaxation in the rigours of the national curriculum to allow more space for schools, personalisation of learning and various other directionscan we hope for a proper consideration of the place of IGCSE in schools? It is such a successful examinationa great British examinationtaken up by over 100 independent schools now as providing something over and beyond GCSE. It seems ridiculous that we should ban it in state schools, when Botswana is putting all its pupils through IGCSE maths. We are limiting our ambitions to mastering basic maths. We must have something that goes further than that and allows the expression of the great achievement that is possible by so many pupils in the examination structure. IGCSE seems to me, and to many independent schools, to fill that role.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, for about 15 seconds, I thought that noble Lords had brought about a transformation in Lib Dem education policy but, alas, the noble Baroness was quick off the mark and made it clear that that welcome change has not taken place. However, I know that the IGCSE is very dear to the noble Lords heart and that of other noble Lords. As he knows, we commissioned the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to look at the whole issue of the IGCSE. It has published a report and consulted. We are considering the results of that consultation now and I hope that we will have more to say soon.
Lord Soley: My Lords, the Statement is rightly very strong on education because the Government have an impressive record on improving standards. I would like to know a little more about the behavioural side. This new department gives us a great opportunity to improve our record of early intervention on a range of behavioural problemswhether health problems such as obesity or more serious behavioural problems resulting from family breakdown, poor parenting and so forth. If we are really clever at this, it does not have to be about more money. It is about getting better at identifying problems at an early stage and intervening. Rather than having more of the existing agencies, do we not need a pool of teachers who are trained to intervene with families and children who are getting into difficulties? Teachers going into such situations will often be more acceptable than people wearing a welfare hat.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, as ever, my noble friend makes a very good point. Having trained practitioners in this area can make a big difference to the way that behaviour is managed in schools. Increasingly, schools have trained practitioners in the way that he suggested. The additional resources available to schools will enable us to have trained professionals in a way that would not have been possible in the past because there was simply not a large enough budget.
However, serious behavioural problems are rare in schools. Indeed, Ofsted's own data show that, at 3 per cent, the proportion of secondary schools judged unsatisfactory on behaviour is at an historic low and half what it was in 1997, so we must keep this issue in proportion. A good deal of the challenge lies in helping families at the earliest stage of their children's lives. The big expansion of childrens centres, Sure Start and support for families in the earliest years of their children's lives will make a big difference to behaviour over time. In particular, it will equip parents to become better parents and support their children better through school. I hope, therefore, to see that proportion of bad behaviour decline still further.
Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I join others in welcoming the Statement as evidence of the new Prime Minister's commitment to education. I have two questions for the Minister. First, on page 3 when discussing the new 14-to-19 diplomas, the Statement says:
That is only a year and two months away, but the curricula have not yet been published. The QCA has been careful in allowing federations of schools and colleges to go through the gateway, and a number will effectively be piloting the diplomas in the first year, but am I right in thinking that the new diplomas will not generally be available within schools until the pilots have been completed?
On diplomas, will the Minister assure us that there will be sufficient careers guidance within schools early enough for young people to be able to make proper choices between the GCSE and vocational routes? That is essential because careers guidance in schools has not been up to the mark recently. It would be good to see it improved.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, in respect of diplomas, the noble Baroness is right that we will be scaling up. We are starting with a more limited scale in the first year, after which we will learn the lessons from that and scale up. She is right, too, in saying that guidance for
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On the business and university partners, we are saying that every secondary school over time will have one. That is an aspiration policy for the futurewe are not in a position now to ensure itbut we believe that it is a goal that we should work towards. Looking at how we can make that achievable is one of the goals that we are setting for the new national council that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has set up. Noble Lords on all side of the House will probably regard that as a desirable goal. It is absolutely desirable that state schools, as private schools have done since time immemorial, should have the closest possible links with universities and should simply take it for granted that they have university partners, as almost every private school that I know does.
We think it right to build on the success of the specialist schools programme, whereby schools have sponsorship to become specialist schools, much of which has come from local businesses, which have often given support with governance, curriculum, mentoring, work placements and so on. They have given support for schools in kind that is much greater than the financial support that they have offered. Building on that, it will be possible to have a much richer array of business partners for schools. That directly links to the noble Baronesss first point. If we have much stronger business links with schools, the diplomas will also be more successful, because the emphasis on work-related learning and the quality of the work-related learning that takes place in schools will be enhanced.
I do not disguise from the House the scale of the ambition. We have 3,500 secondary schools, so it is a very ambitious goal to ensure that they all have a meaningful higher education and business partner, but we believe that it is an appropriate goal. Learning from the experience of the specialist schools, academies and the large number of trust schools being established, many of which have university and business partners, we believe that it is an achievable goal for the future.
On the further expansion of the academies programme, will the Minister clarify the position of the Church of England-sponsored academies? Will they be treated in the same way as those he mentioned that will be sponsored by universities?
Lord Adonis: My Lords, I believe that the right reverend Prelate was referring to Teach First, which is the programme expanding out of London. I would dearly like to see it play a role in the north-east, too. We are expanding it progressively because it is very
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Teach First is regarded as a highly prestigious programme, which is a testament to the changing attitudes of young people to teachingand very welcome that is too. It is also a testament to reform, because the establishment of Teach First, which was done in partnership with the teaching unions, involved a complete rewriting of the rules on teacher education. We ended the requirement to do a full-time PGCE for one year; in place of that, teachers train at Canterbury Christ Church University for six weeks over the summer and are then placed in properly supervised groups in schools. Their commitment to teach is for only for two years. We were led to think that the overhead cost of training them might not be justified but, in fact, more than half of Teach First graduates stay in teaching for more than two years, which is an immensely valuable resource to our schools. I give the right reverend Prelate the assurance that we shall seek to expand the programme and not neglect the needs of the north-east.
The Church of England has been a very important and highly successful promoter of academies. As the right reverend Prelate will have heard, one of the new academies that I announced today is a Church of England academy in the London Borough of Southwark. We want to see the church play a key role in the expansion of the programme, as local communities wish to see the church engaged, because this is all about local consent and preference. However, it will not have escaped the notice of the right reverend Prelate that the church is not itself a high-performing university, college or school. It has many other attributes but those three are not among them, so it will not qualify for, so to speak, passing Go without making any paymentsthe concession that we are announcing today.
Lord Blackwell: My Lords, I join others in welcoming the Ministers commitment to the expansion of the academies programme. In addition to the assurances that he gave my noble friend Lady Morris on preserving the existing freedoms of the academies, do the Government have any plansbased on the success of the initial academiesfurther to extend their freedom so that they have more freedom to develop in ways that will enable them to attract parents and pupils?
Furthermore, is there any plan in the Governments programme to enable new schools to be set up within the state-funded sector, so that they can provide a further strand of choice, innovation and excellence alongside existing state schools?
Lastly, I welcome the Ministers commitment to setting in individual subjects, but if he embraces the
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Lord Adonis: My Lords, it is open to schools to collaborate as the noble Lord suggests and to have groups that span schools. That is a matter for local arrangements. It is also possible to have oversubscription criteria for schools, such as banding. I am getting rather technical now, but there are systems of admission that ensure a proper cross-section of the ability range and therefore make it more likely that schools have top sets than they might otherwise have done, although that depends on their being oversubscribed. If they are undersubscribed, they may have difficulties in that regard. But on the issue that the noble Lord raisedthe ability of pupils to be taught across schoolsthat is possible and will become increasingly common as we develop diplomas and see more collaborative working between schools in offering a wider curriculum.
On the noble Lords point about new schools being established, under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 local authorities have a duty to respond to proposals for the establishment of new schools and can themselves commission new schools. It very much depends on the commissioning state of mind of the local authority. A local authority that wants to see new provision can commission it, and there are requirements under the 2006 Act that new schools that local authorities decide to commission must be subject to open competitions.
We have just seen the first two competitions for new schools completed, the first in Haringey and the second in Southampton. I shall send the noble Lord details of those competitions, as I know that he has a keen interest in this matter. What is striking is the wide range of different proposals coming forward in those competitionsand these were the very first ones. A vibrant debate took place in local communities in both Haringey and Southampton about the rival merits of the different proposals, the different curriculum strengths, and the strengths and weaknesses of the different educational partners associated with the proposals. I believe that the strength of competition that will develop over time as the school competitions advance will be very great and that they will be both welcome to new promoters wanting to establish schools and beneficial to local communities, which will have a wider range of options from which to choose and be more likely, therefore, to secure a high-quality school as a result.
Academies already have substantial freedoms and flexibilities so I am not sure what the noble Lord had in mind, but if he has any particular ideas that he would like to put to me, I would be glad to look at them. There is great flexibility within the academy framework to enable innovation to take place. We have not found that academy sponsors feel hidebound.
Baroness Morgan of Huyton: My Lords, in welcoming the Statement as have many others in the House, perhaps I may seek a little clarity on the implementation
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Lord Adonis: My Lords, my noble friend makes a very important point. Children who are engaged in education from the earliest years, which means above all else being able to read effectively, are much less likely to engage in disruptive behaviour thereafter or to cause problems of other kinds in the education system. She was therefore completely right.
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