Education Bill

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Mr. Timms: The key point is that the parties listed in subsection (2) are under an obligation to implement what emerges from the STRB process in a way that the parties identified in the amendments are not. I therefore defend the arrangements, which are reproduced from the 1991 Act. I accept that other bodies that do not have the same obligations may have a less direct but nevertheless genuine interest in the STRB process.

Parents' groups and independent schools may have views, and I emphasise that there is nothing to stop those parties from submitting their views to the STRB in the light of the remit that the Secretary of State gave to it. That document is public, and people can see what the remit is. The STRB can of its own accord ask those or other interested bodies to present additional views orally. It would be inappropriate to put parents and independent schools that are not subject to the school teachers' pay and conditions document, however they are funded, on a par with LEAs, governing bodies and teachers' unions whose relationship with the STRB is different and more direct.

Mr. Willis: When we discussed city academies during consideration of the Learning and Skills Bill, I secured an agreement from the Minister at the time that those academies would be subject to the same admissions arrangements and STRB findings as other community schools. I understand that the Minister wants 20 new academies up and running by the end of this Parliament. Is he now saying that the academies will be treated as independent schools, as the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West said, and that they will not be subject to any of the STRB's findings?

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Mr. Timms: That is the case. The city academies will not—they do not yet exist—be subject to the findings of the STRB. Perhaps I can write to the hon. Gentleman to give him some more information on the subject.

Mr. Brady: I hope that the Minister will make that information available to all members of the Committee.

Mr. Timms: I am happy to give that assurance.

11 am

Mr. Brady: I am grateful to the Minister. It will be an interesting document setting out with greater clarity exactly what requirements will be placed upon city academies. Clearly, if they are not subject to the deliberations or the outcome of recommendations from the STRB, it would be inappropriate for them to be a statutory consultee in the decision making process. If they are expected to observe the recommendations of the review body, Ministers may wish to reconsider the matter. We await the Minister's more detailed exposition. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 117 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 118

Power to prescribe pay and conditions

Mr. Brady: I beg to move amendment No. 529, in page 73, line 35, at end insert—

    '(except where it is agreed between the parties that a services contract is exempt from the provisions of this Part).'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 526, in page 73, line 39, after 'carry out' insert 'only'.

No. 527, in page 73, line 40, at end insert—

    '(e) he carries out work of a kind which is specified by regulations under section 129(1) for part of his contracted hours, in which case powers under section 118 may be applied to that proportion of the contracted hours.'.

No. 528, in page 74, line 20, at end insert—

    '( ) Nothing in this or other education legislation shall prevent a local education authority or governing body from employing a teacher on a contract for services.'.

Mr. Brady: This clause and group of amendments are a little more substantial. There is a great deal of flesh to be put on the bones of the Government's thinking in regard to elements of this clause. The amendments seek to draw out the Minister's thoughts on the precise role of a school teacher, perhaps harking back to our earlier exchange on what defines their professional role. This is a matter of increasing interest to all those who are involved in education, those who represent teachers and the teachers themselves. Given that Ministers now seek to define the functions that must be carried out only by a qualified teacher and, by implication, those that need not, we are starting to clarify that grey area.

I remind the Minister of the difficulties that arose when the Secretary of State commented on the role of classroom assistants. Although Ministers were quick to try to redefine some of her remarks and were eager

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to ensure that no one got the idea that classroom assistants would replace qualified teachers, aspects of the Bill go to the heart of the definition of the roles that are specific to qualified professional teachers and those that are not. The purpose is to draw out the Minister on exactly where that line should be, what aspects of a teacher's role he regards as being fundamental, what aspects are exclusively the remit of qualified teachers and which are not.

Chris Grayling: I would like to set out in a little more detail, the typical circumstances in which such a question might arise, and which reinforce the need for the Government to address the issues that have been raised by hon. Members in this amendment.

I want the Minister to consider the example of a large secondary school that chooses to hire a sports coach. Part of the time, during school hours, the coach will provide physical education or leadership of sporting activities that are part of the normal curriculum provided by the school, but at the same time, will provide some additional support to the school, perhaps outside school hours, in support of school teams and training activities. The coach might be contracted, not in a classic teaching role, but to provide both a contribution to the curriculum within the school and some support outside the school.

There are situations where such a role might be funded partly by a parental contribution and it might be funded within the school as part of the recognition that teachers cannot do everything. The person concerned would be contracted by the school separately from a normal teaching contract to provide a specific service to the school, but would be providing a service that would, in part, normally be expected to fall within the remit of a teacher. Therefore, it is conceivable to set out a situation where a teaching contract is covered by this clause. It might not be applicable to someone who is none the less providing part of the role as a classic teacher.

I should be grateful if, when the Minister addresses the comments that have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale, West, he would consider that kind of situation, and in doing so, think about whether the aspirations that are set out in this amendment might add merit to the structure of the clause and to the Bill.

Mr. Turner: I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell for his comments about the different roles that may be adopted by those who are sometimes employed as teachers, and at other times employed for other purposes. In the circumstance to which he referred, one can equally envisage that the person who is teaching part-time, might also be managing the facility, managing community use of the facility, and doing a whole range of things that do not fall easily within the teachers' pay and conditions arrangements.

I wanted to refer more particularly to amendments Nos. 528 and 529. Even if these amendments do not appeal to the Minister, I hope that they may appeal to Mr. Adonis, with whom I used to share membership of a school governing body. Some of his thoughts on these issues may drift in the same direction as mine.

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One can envisage a number of circumstances where these amendments might be appropriate. Let us consider a school where one department is found to be failing. The rest of the school may be functioning effectively, but there may be serious weaknesses with the delivery of mathematics, for example. There may be a school down the road that is very effective at providing mathematic; it may be a state school, a city technology college or an independent school, or it may be an academy. One of those external institutions may be happy to assist in the provision of a mathematics teacher in that school, not merely by training, although that may be part of their function, but by being physically present in the classroom from time to time, or perhaps throughout a term, providing half the mathematics teaching in the school. They may be confident that they can continue to provide mathematics teaching in the home institution and be willing to let their teachers not merely oversee but teach mathematics in the classroom of a school that has serious difficulties, acting as the United States—perhaps I should say 3Es—cavalry riding to the rescue of a failing mathematics department.

In such circumstances, 3Es would not want to put members of its staff on a contract of employment with the school, as it may want to retain them for future contracts, but there must be a contract that enables the services to be provided by 3Es. That is what a service contract means. Such a contract could be used imaginatively to assist and rescue failing departments in schools, as it may not be possible in the time available to recruit enough new teachers or to retrain existing teachers without pupils losing two or three terms of education. Even one term of mathematics education lost is a serious drawback for the pupils affected, of whom there may be many in a large school.

Amendment No. 529 provides that such an arrangement would, if the parties agreed and even if only one teacher were involved, be outwith the determination of pay and conditions made by the Secretary of State, because those teachers would undertake additional work and expect additional remuneration, which might be appropriate.

 
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