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The noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, raised important points about faith schools. He will know better than me that it is a separate inspection process. Faith schools, including exempt schools, would continue to be subject under Section 48 of the Education Act 2005 to a separate inspection into their religious education. This can also cover spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and reports will be published. That is not a complete answer to the noble Lord's concerns but it is another part of a possible reassurance.
The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, asked me whether a cohort could pass through an outstanding school without any inspection. The absence of inspection does not mean that Ofsted will fail to pay attention to exempt schools. Currently outstanding schools have five years between inspections. The risk assessment would start at three years and be done annually but, if there were concerns before then, the whole point of the triggering process is that Ofsted would be able to look into them.
Overall, we think that a lot has changed in the past 20 years in terms of transparency and accountability. There is more information and the inspection system over those years has become increasingly proportionate. We have a large number of schools that are capable of evaluating their own performance and identifying and responding to their own improvement priorities. We are keen to focus inspection on those that need it most- underperforming and inadequate schools. I recognise the strength of feeling that has been raised.
There were a number of thoughtful suggestions, particular around the important question of the rigour of the risk assessment. I understand that Ofsted is due to publish its approach to risk assessment and I would like to use that as an opportunity to discuss these concerns further, to reflect on what has been said to me today and to raise them with the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Huyton. I hope that through that process-I will be happy to discuss it with noble Lords who have particular concerns and who have contributed to this debate-I can address some of the concerns that have been raised, reflect on them and then report back to noble Lords. I will certainly reflect on the mood of the Committee. I will listen to the advice that I have been given but in the mean time I ask my noble friend Lady Walmsley to withdraw her amendment.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am grateful for what my noble friend has said. I do not really think that saying that the system at the moment has its defects is a good
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I want to pick up on a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland. Clause 40(2) removes the compromise that we reached at the end of that long and, as he says, acrimonious debate. I very much hope the Minister will take the time to read that debate and to understand why that clause got into the 2006 Act. It was a compromise, carefully worked out by the then Government, to deal with questions about the way in which faith schools fit into the system. By removing that compromise you are reopening the whole argument as to that relationship and inviting a repeat on Report of the experience of 2006. I hope the noble Lord, if only in preparation for that, will read through that debate. I am sure we will revisit this in October. I hope that between now and then we will have made some progress.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, this has been a very thorough and rigorous debate and I do not intend to summarise the whole of it. I will respond only on my own amendment as the Minister has been intervened upon a number of times. My understanding of what the Minister said in response to my amendment was that there is no reason to believe that outstanding schools will not take safeguarding seriously. Without intending to be rude to the Minister, I wrote in my notes, "Well, we are hoping for the best then". Frankly, I do not agree that if somebody is good at one thing they are necessarily good at another. Only on Monday I talked about my own grandsons, one of whom is brilliant at maths and the other is brilliant at English. I think the same applies to schools.
The Minister said that Ofsted will now carry out a survey, but I understand that there are currently no plans whatever to inspect safeguarding regularly in schools that are regarded as exempt-and therefore will not be regularly inspected-unless, of course, the Ofsted survey advises the Government that there is no correlation between a school being good academically and being good at safeguarding. Can the Minister just nod if I am correct in that understanding of his reply?
Baroness Walmsley: In which case, I have to declare that I am very unhappy about that. I rather suspect that my concerns are reflected in other parts of the Committee. It is a matter to which I may very well return on Report. However, in the mean time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment 120. We are now moving to Clause 40, which sets out the new Ofsted framework. These probing amendments address two different aspects of that framework.
I should have perhaps said, "the well-being and achievement of pupils in the school", because well-being comes before achievement. All Members of the Committee will agree that unless a child's well-being has been addressed, he or she is not going to achieve what he or she otherwise might. Well-being is fundamentally important to a child being ready to learn. I do not think I need to rehearse that argument any further because it is widely accepted.
That is why I ask my noble friend the Minister: where will well-being be covered in the framework, how will Ofsted report upon it and will the school's performance in relation to the well-being of children be a limiting factor in determining whether the school can achieve an outstanding Ofsted report? I will leave my comments on Amendment 115 at that. It is fairly simple.
Amendment 120 was suggested to us by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which welcomes the explicit mention in the Bill of the needs of disabled pupils and pupils with special educational needs in proposed new subsection (5B)(b)(i) and (ii). However, it is concerned that without specifying other protected groups in the legislation, inspection will not focus adequately on their needs and Ofsted may not be able to report adequately on progress towards closing gaps and improving educational outcomes. Indeed, the lack of these groups in the legislation may also undermine Ofsted's ability to demonstrate due regard under the public sector equality duty.
The amendment is very simple and its purpose is to avoid any doubt in the wording of Clause 40. It is a small matter of crossing the "t"s and dotting "i"s for the avoidance of doubt. We are dealing with groups of children with specific needs who need to be dealt with in specialised ways. Those groups are: pupils in respect of whom the school receives the pupil premium and pupils who have protected characteristics for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. At Second Reading, there were several references to equality by a number of noble Lords across your Lordships' House. They were concerned about how children and young people from culturally diverse backgrounds, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, for example, will be affected-although unintentionally-because many are among the most deprived educationally in England and their
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I simply need reassurance that the new framework will take full account of the school's record in respect of meeting the needs of these children as well as of those referred to in the Bill. I beg to move.
Baroness Flather: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 116. All the amendments concern the role of Ofsted and it is very interesting to me-although not comprehensible-why community cohesion, as a separate fact, has been withdrawn from the responsibilities of an Ofsted inspection.
I have had a look at Ofsted's document about inspectors' responsibilities, especially in relation to community cohesion. It does not say anything except "community cohesion", which is quite worrying, because I am sure that noble Lords around us in this Room have their own ideas about what amounts to community cohesion. It speaks mainly about well-being, which has just been referred to. That is certainly one of the issues that Ofsted has to look at, but there is nothing about community cohesion.
I spoke to an inspector who told me that her notion of community cohesion was, first, understanding one's local community, which makes sense; secondly, understanding the national community, which makes sense; and, finally, understanding the international community, which makes sense as well. Why we should withdraw this duty from Ofsted, I fail to understand.
I have been sent a letter by the Minister which says that inspections will be related to schools' "core responsibilities". Why community cohesion should not be part of the core responsibilities is again not clear to me. Our country now encompasses many different types of people, cultures and development. If ever there was a need for community cohesion, it is now and for the future. To withdraw that seems to be spitting in the wind. We have schools which are different; we have faith schools. We need to know whether faith schools in particular are encouraging community cohesion. One can be faithful to one's faith, but community cohesion is for all of us, of whatever faith we are. I would have thought that that was an integral and important part of any faith school. I am not speaking about Church of England schools' bishops, because they are very good; I do not have much of a problem with them.
If it is not considered as a separate issue, I do not know how it becomes proportionate and integral, because it is a particular area which needs to be understood. The Minister went on to say that it would be considered,
This is a very important area for the future of our nation. I remember very clearly, not so long ago, the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, being made Minister for Community Cohesion in the House of Lords. What happened to that? I had thought that community cohesion was a "big buzz" thing. Whether it is a buzz thing or not, it is important that schools do not lose sight of it.
Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, I very much agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, but in the interests of time I shall speak only to the amendment in my name, Amendment 116A. This gives Ofsted an additional task, to inspect the effectiveness of education as influenced by the buildings and design of the school. I do not expect that this is what the Government really want, but I would urge them to take the opportunity of this amendment to embed the importance of properly designed school buildings in the assessment of the education they provide.
I shall not repeat what I said on the earlier group of amendments, but I think that it is all the more important in view of the Minister's response on design standards. I briefly draw attention to the recently published Space for Personalised Learning report commissioned by the previous Government. In changing their approach to school building, I implore the present Government not to throw the baby out with the bath water and ignore this treasure trove of expertise. Learning is changing, and so is our understanding of it. Even if we return to chronological history and Latin, both of which I rather like, our children need to be at home with and, indeed, masters of, the modern world and its changes. They need to earn a living in that world, and they need to be able to contribute to UK growth and culture and their own self-fulfilment. The essential message of the report is that buildings and the designed space matter very much for effective learning, inclusive learning, safe and secure learning and enthusiastic and creative learning. If our inspectorate does not pay attention to this aspect of education and further it where it can, we shall all lose out.
Lord McAvoy: I rise very briefly, just for a few minutes, to speak on Amendment 116. When the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, was moving the amendment, I felt I reached a new understanding with her, seeing as we have previously disagreed. I was even starting to think that I had a soul mate-I will withdraw the word "soul" in case that offends her. She said so much in the first part of her speech, but I will deal with that secondly. She rather spoilt it in the second part of her speech by homing in on faith schools. Although she made it clear, as usual, that she was not talking about Church of England schools, I had a bit of bother trying to fathom out which particular faith school she was on about. I am sure I will figure it out at some point. It would be totally invidious if separate criteria applied to faith schools, and I am afraid it shows deep paranoia and suspicion about Catholic schools that I just do not get.
Being positive and concentrating on the first half of her speech, it was brilliant in trying to get across how much all schools can contribute to community cohesion.
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Lord Quirk: My Lords, in a spirit of attempting to clarify rather than add to the duties of Ofsted, the proposers of Amendment 117 hope that it will find favour with the Committee and with the Minister. Indeed, we can see no reason why it should not, for this minimalist, one-word addition to the Bill very much runs with the grain of the clause in which we propose to embed it.
For those who may say, not unreasonably, why not add also other terse desiderata, such as mathematical, musical or physical, we say, no, linguistic is in a class of its own. The social and cultural development of pupils depends critically on their command of language and the interpersonal relations that promote such development proceed above all else on successful and confident facility with language. In other words, the social and cultural development already in the clause actually entails linguistic development. So manifestly true is this that it might well be felt that adding "linguistic" is superfluous, but it is not. Rather, its omission from the clause should be viewed as a glaring oversight, so much do the other two-social and cultural-depend on it. Language is what supremely distinguishes the human species, giving us uniquely the facility to talk about the past, speculate about the future and analyse the present.
This is why Ofsted's attention needs to be specifically drawn to the monitoring of linguistic development, not only for the sake of the unfortunate minority of youngsters with pathological problems in speech and language, nor for the sake of the much bigger minorities who come from non-English speaking homes or from homes which are non-speaking, and in which conversation in any language is in short supply. Our amendment has all these in mind but we propose it for the sake of the school community as a whole, for whom rich, rapid and early language development is the key to their whole education and subsequent careers. Moreover, the richer their English, the likelier it is that their interest-social and cultural-will reach out beyond English to the social, cultural and, indeed, vocational opportunities to be found in the realm of foreign language learning.
Lord Ouseley: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 118. To an extent, I support what the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, has already said when introducing Amendment 120, in which two additional duties for Ofsteds are mentioned. I will try not to go over the arguments in support of that. I am concerned that the Minister indicated that the framework is, among other things, to give a lighter touch to the work of Ofsted. That in itself worries me to the extent that a lighter touch has proved disastrous-perhaps I am wrong, as the Minister is nodding.
Lord Ouseley: That is helpful, and I thank the Minister. I will refer not to a lighter touch, but if in fact the sharper focus is to lighten the burdens of the chief inspector and narrow the focus, however sharply, then the way we are trying to address this worries me. I used "lighter touch" because I heard those words used by the Minister-it may have been in a different context. However, a lighter touch is associated historically with the FSA which, as we saw, led to the disaster which we are all still suffering from.
One of the additions that we seek to make here to provide protection to all pupils in our schools, as associated with the Equality Act 2010, is because a lighter touch has been so light that it has been almost totally ineffective. I worry when I hear about a lighter touch because that Act was predicated on a White Paper that talked about light-touch regulation, which does not work. Light-touch inspection does not work either, although I agree with it being sharply focused. However, in this case we have heard of the variation in the quality of inspection reports over the years. I have experience of seeing some of those reports and how they have either impacted on the way in which people have responded to the needs of children within those schools or avoided saying things that have to be said.
The amendment is important because we need to make this as explicit and comprehensive as possible, without adding to the burdens of the chief inspector in reporting, so that we are able to provide what is intended and deal with the needs of all our children. By focusing only on those with special educational needs and those with a disability, we do a disservice to what is intended and to all those other children who have particular needs but will be excluded from that category. A great many other disadvantaged children will not be sharply focused on by any chief inspector's report. The reason for the other two categories being included has been alluded to and cogently argued for by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley.
When we discuss meeting the needs of a range of pupils in the school, it is important that we recognise that there are many socioeconomically disadvantaged children whose needs have to be addressed. If the focus is on schools that are not achieving and not doing well, there will be many children within the
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Baroness Garden of Frognal: I apologise for interrupting the noble Lord. We are in rather strange circumstances. We have agreed to complete this important group of amendments but we need to finish by 4.30. Perhaps we could make our contributions as succinct as possible in order that the noble Baroness and I have a chance to wind up.
Lord Ouseley: Thank you very much. I acknowledge what the noble Baroness has said, and I am about to conclude. However, I have not made many interventions in Committee and I intend to speak as fully as I can while being as brief as I think is reasonable.
The protected characteristics under the Education Act 2000 provide us with a basis to enable some of the other amendments in this area to address this issue. The amendments will need to remain as explicit as they are here if we are to do justice to what we want to see achieved, through inspection reports, in addressing the range of educational needs across all different groups of children. It is particularly important that we include those characteristics and enable, as part of any follow up, the guidance that the chief inspector should have.
When we consider groups on the basis of race, it is easy enough for a report to be blunt in the way in which it states that it has dealt with the issue of race and ethnicity. However, if you look across the whole range, groups such as Traveller and Gypsy children are very often excluded when inspections are taking place and the report does not relate explicitly and specifically to those groups which are underachieving, and the quality of education that is being inspected in the school tends not to address those particular needs.
Bearing in mind the time factor, I conclude by asking the Minister to explain why, when looking at the range of needs, the sharp focus is restricted to only two categories. Why is not this comprehensive amendment-which enables a broadening of the categories while maintaining a sharp focus-an appropriate way forward?
As we discussed on the previous group of amendments, the research I have been doing for the Localism Bill about how neighbourhood planning works within cities, and mostly within London, has drawn the comment from a number of the people involved that one of the principal problems they face is the actions of faith schools, in this case the very small ones-I am certainly not referring to the favourite cause of the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy-both Christian and other denominations, which seem intent on focusing communities around themselves rather than reaching out more widely. That certainly relates to the point about community cohesion which the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, raised and which was the subject of long debates in 2006.
On the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Boswell of Aynho, I merely say that it is a well known problem that secondary schools take the prospectuses of FE colleges and others, lock them in the head's cupboard and say that that is their duty to their pupils. This needs to be looked at, at least occasionally.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, I will ask a brief but important question in relation to the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker. I should have stood up and asked her, but I have been told off before for standing up too soon, so I thought that I would wait.
I was unable to be present for the Statement yesterday about buildings, and I am sure that this might have been raised then. The question is whether or not a building should be a limiting factor in an Ofsted inspection's outcome. Many schools now have huge problems with their standards, and I speak as a trustee of a college where the premises are totally inappropriate for the work that we are trying to do. This means that we can never get a good Ofsted inspection, despite the fact that the teaching is good and the pupils like going there. There would be nowhere else for these disabled young people to go if it did not exist. In the present economic climate, is this limiting factor appropriate when we know that it is not going to change? This school would have been redeveloped under the previous programme, which, of course, was abandoned.
Lord Sutherland of Houndwood: My Lords, the amendments tabled by my noble friends Lord Quirk and Lord Ouseley belong closely together because you do not have to visit many primary schools with children of disadvantaged backgrounds to discover that one of their chief difficulties is lack of linguistic capacity when moving from reception into primary school. That is why I support the amendments, as I do the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lady Flather. In view of what I said earlier, I shall not repeat myself, but there is a definition of community cohesion, quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, from the Home Office, available at column 39 of volume 686 of Hansard.
Baroness Hooper: My Lords, my name is attached to Amendments 117 and 121, and I wish to associate myself with the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Quirk, with regard to Amendment 117. Both these amendments were intended to remind us of and to draw our attention to the importance of the teaching and learning of modern languages for communication skills, for understanding other people's cultures, as an added value for employment purposes and to enable pupils to have a better understanding of their own language. I wish to make that rapid interjection to support these amendments.
Baroness Perry of Southwark: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Boswell of Aynho has asked me to flag up for Amendment 122ZA the requirement on schools to provide a continuity of careers guidance to young people with special needs, which can take them out of the purview of the school, and who can therefore be missed by Ofsted.
Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve: My noble friend Lady Coussins, who is attending her daughter's graduation today, asked me to say a couple of words on Amendment 121, to which I wish to add my support. The late, lamented Lord Dearing picked up very strongly in his languages review that we are not monitoring the catastrophe that has happened to the learning of modern foreign languages in the wake of what many of us regard as the largest single piece of inadvertent educational vandalism in the past decade-the removal of the GCSE language requirement. Since then in state comprehensive schools the proportion of pupils still studying a language between the ages of 14 and 16 has halved from 80 to 40 per cent. As ever, it is the children in the less ambitious schools who are being deprived in every possible way, including being deprived of certain future employment opportunities. I hope we could at least start monitoring it.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I associate myself, too, with Amendment 116 and the excellent contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. I come from Leeds, where we now have a city board for safer and stronger communities. It is interesting that the chief inspector has to report on safety but not on stronger communities as the legislation stands. The way in which schools contribute community cohesion over the whole of a city such as Leeds seems to me to be crucial to the way in which the city develops. I, too, hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, will bring back this matter on Report.
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I hope that your Lordships agree with me that it is vital to give full recognition to those teachers and head teachers who put a huge effort into taking children forward. Where there is a challenging intake, perhaps with high levels of special educational needs or numbers of children with pupil premium, it is important to recognise in achievement the distance pupils have travelled and not just their performance against all other pupils across the country. I would be grateful perhaps for a note from the Minister on how Ofsted inspections will look at achievement and fully recognise it in terms of the distance travelled by children.
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, our names have been added to Amendments 115 and 118, so I will speak very briefly. First, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, about the narrow focus on educational achievement which ignores the wider role of education in providing a safe and happy environment where all children can thrive and be healthy and confident. We believe that well-being should include such things as nutrition, exercise, relationships, respect for each other and how to overcome low self-esteem. A good school will include all this in the curriculum, but it does not mean that we should exempt all schools from having that assessed and checked from time to time.
The noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, gave a very coherent case for why Amendment 118 is important. It is important that we check that the Government's rhetoric when they introduced the pupil premium can be backed up
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Baroness Garden of Frognal: My Lords, I shall try to speak very quickly, which in no way reflects the seriousness and importance of the group of amendments we have just been discussing. The existing arrangements for inspection have become cluttered and crowded. Inspectors face the challenge of having to form a discrete judgment on just about everything schools do. The cumulative effect of this is that we have lost the sharp focus-which my noble friend referred to and the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, picked up-on those things that are the fundamental responsibilities of schools.
Clause 40 seeks to address this by streamlining the reporting arrangements so that they focus on four key areas: pupils' achievement, the quality of teaching, the effectiveness of leadership and pupils' behaviour and safety. In doing so, inspectors must consider pupils' spiritual, moral and cultural development and how the needs of all groups of pupils, including in particular those with SEN or a disability, are being met.
As far as Amendments 115 and 116 are concerned, schools themselves remain under a duty to promote pupil well-being and community cohesion. The provisions in Clause 40, including the specific requirements around behaviour and safety and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, provide the right structure.
Ofsted recently commented that well-being will be at the heart of the new framework, because it will require inspectors to consider the full range of experiences for pupils. This demonstrates clearly its commitment to covering pupil well-being appropriately. It also confirmed that community cohesion remains in scope for inspection. In practice, that involves inspectors evaluating pupils' understanding of their own culture and those of others locally and nationally. As part of overall effectiveness, inspectors will consider how pupils develop the skills to enable them to participate in a modern, democratic Britain, and whether pupils understand and appreciate the range of different cultures within school and beyond school as an essential element of their preparation for life. I hope that that will provide noble Lords and, of course, the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, with some assurance on this matter. I am sure that we are all delighted that she and the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, have become soulmates.
Amendments 118 and 120 seek to ensure that particular groups of pupils are considered as part of school inspections; namely, those benefiting from the pupil
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In the case of protected groups, additional assurance is provided by the fact that Ofsted is subject to the public sector equality duty, which is provided for in the Equality Act 2010. This commits the inspectorate to playing its part in promoting equality and eliminating discrimination, including through its inspection activity. We do not therefore believe that it is necessary to replicate this within the clause. The best place for these references is not in the primary legislation, but in the framework and supplementary guidance-the detailed documents that determine how inspections are delivered on the ground-and that is where they will be found under the new system.
The last set of amendments in this group all seek to add to the inspection provisions explicit references to various subjects and aspects. Amendments 117 and 121 concern linguistic skills and modern foreign languages. I entirely endorse what was said by the noble Baronesses, Lady O'Neill and Lady Coussins. Here I would highlight the benefit of the new arrangements in giving inspectors more opportunity to focus on teaching and learning, observe lessons, listen to pupils read, and talk to individuals and groups of pupils. In terms of inspection of modern foreign languages, Ofsted conducts a rolling programme of subject surveys, and that will continue to be the way in which it assesses individual curriculum areas in future.
Moving to careers advice, I note that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, spoke on this on behalf of our joint noble friend Lord Boswell of Aynho. This will be captured within the new inspection arrangements. Inspectors will consider, for example, the extent to which pupils have a well informed understanding of the options and challenges facing them as they move through school and on to the next stage of their education, training and employment.
I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, raised the matter of school buildings and design at the recent meeting hosted by the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Huyton. I am aware that we have discussed this before and, if she will forgive me, I will skip over a further to reply on that, but I assure her that what she says is being taken on board.
However, we have a real opportunity here to start afresh, to streamline the requirements on inspectors, to provide more coherence to the arrangements, to clarify to schools what is expected of them and to provide parents with more meaningful assessments of
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Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for skating so very quickly through her response and yet managing to be so thorough. I shall be very brief. I thank her for her confirmation that well-being and community cohesion are within the scope of inspections as undertaken by Ofsted, that Ofsted will inspect how well schools narrow the gap, that the equality duty covers Ofsted and that all ranges of children within the school have to be considered by it. That will, I hope, include those schools that have the groups of children about whom I had some concerns.
On languages, I welcome her statement that there can be themed surveys. I think there is a danger that including languages will get us on to the slippery slope
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