Education Bill

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Mrs. Laing: I am grateful to the Minister for his concise explanation of the clause. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 375, in page 82, line 22, leave out

    ''The Secretary of State may by regulations''

and insert ''Regulations may''.

No. 376, in page 83, line 1, leave out

    ''does not include an independent school''

and insert

    ''means—

    (a) a school maintained by a local education authority, or

    (b) a special school not so maintained.''—[Mr. Timms.]

    Clause 137, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 138

    Prohibition from teaching, &c. Amendment made: No. 377, in page 83, line 4, after ''State'', insert:

    '', in relation to England, or the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales concurrently, in relation to Wales,''—[Mr. Timms.]

Mr. Brady: I beg to move amendment No. 524, in page 83, line 4, after ''person'', insert ''or category of person''.

The amendment would allow the Secretary of State to specify that a whole category of persons is prohibited from teaching. I look forward to hearing the Minister's comments. Clause 138(4)(b) refers to a direction

    ''on the grounds that the person is unsuitable to work with children''.

Clearly, there may be many different reasons why that is the case, but it is possible to envisage certain categories of individual who, because of their criminal background or mental health, may never be safe with children. I am thinking particularly of paedophiles who have committed serious sexual offences against children.

Where there is a genuine concern, there may be some logic in permitting the Secretary of State to specify a broader measure relating to a whole category of individuals or offenders. That may not only avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and delay in the process, but help to provide a safe environment for children. This is a probing amendment and, as I said, I look forward to hearing the Minister's remarks.

Column Number: 533

Mr. Timms: The hon. Gentleman has made an interesting and valid point. I hope that I can persuade him that the clause already allows for the arrangement that he envisages. It does not prevent my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State from having a policy of making directions automatically in respect of persons who fall into a particular category. The provision allows the Secretary of State to make regulations prescribing the procedure for giving a direction, and those regulations will provide for her to make a direction automatically in any case in which prescribed conditions are met. The hon. Gentleman's important point is therefore covered.

Mr. Brady: I am grateful to the Minister for satisfying my concerns. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 378, in page 83, line 24, leave out

    'The Secretary of State may give a direction under this section'

and insert

    'A direction under this section may be given'.

No. 379, in page 83, line 37, after 'State', insert

    ', in relation to England, or the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales concurrently, in relation to Wales,'.—[Mr. Timms.]

Mr. Timms: I beg to move amendment No. 380, in page 83, line 39, leave out 'to whom directions relate' and insert

    'who are subject to directions'.

The amendment makes a wholly technical change, bringing the wording of clause 138(6) more in line with the way in which the rest of the clause is expressed. I commend it to the Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 138, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 139

Directions under section 138: appeal

Amendments made: No. 381, in page 84, line 2, leave out

    'the Secretary of State has given a direction'

and insert

    'a direction has been given'.

No. 382, in page 84, line 5, leave out

    'of the Secretary of State'.

No. 383, in page 84, line 6, leave out

    'of the Secretary of State'.

No. 384, in page 84, line 8, after 'State', insert

    ', in relation to England, or the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales concurrently, in relation to Wales,'.—[Mr. Timms.]

Clause 139, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 140

specification of qualification or course

Amendments made: No. 385, in page 84, line 25, after 'England', insert

    ', the National Assembly for Wales, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the General Teaching Council for Wales'.

No. 386, in page 84, line 30, after 'Agency', insert

    'or the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales'.

No. 387, in page 84, line 31, leave out subsection (4).—[Mr. Touhig.]

Clause 140, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 141 disagreed to.

Clauses 142 to 144 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 13

The general teaching councils for england and wales

Mr. Willis: I beg to move amendment No. 503, in page 164, leave out lines 23 to 26.

The Chairman: With this we may discuss the following amendments: No. 504, in page 164, leave out lines 28 to 29.

No. 505, in page 164, line 30, leave out 'provisional registration or full'.

No. 506, in page 164, line 31, leave out 'at the relevant time'.

No. 507, in page 164, line 31, leave out 'or were'.

No. 508, in page 164, leave out lines 33 to 40.

No. 509, in page 165, leave out line 3.

No. 510, in page 165, leave out lines 20 to 22.

No. 511, in page 166, leave out lines 10 to 12.

No. 512, in page 166, leave out lines 16 to 18.

No. 513, in page 167, leave out lines 16 to 19.

5 pm

Mr. Willis: This string of amendments may be the last business of the day, but it is important. When the GTC was set up under the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, it was envisaged that it would quickly become the master of its own destiny. The amendments challenge the Government's assumption that they can add new categories to registration by the GTC, two of which the Government hinted that they would like to have. One of those categories is trainee teachers and the other is teachers from overseas.

The GTC is either an organisation for teachers who have the necessary qualifications to be registered, or it is not. If categories are going to be added to it, it will lose its power to act on behalf of the teaching profession. The adding of categories diminishes the GTC's authority and brings into question the fees that trainee teachers or teachers from overseas will pay. I respectfully suggest that only those who are fully registered should be members of the GTC. The Government may feel that there are powerful reasons to have additional categories, such as trainee teachers

Column Number: 535

and teachers from overseas. In that case, the Minister will make a case for them. I strongly argue that now that the GTC is up and running, it should be the master of its own destiny. If it is making a case for additional categories on behalf of the teaching profession, let the Minister make that case. I do not believe that the GTC has made that case. This is coming from the Government. I hope that the Government will not press ahead with granting new categories for registration with the GTC.

Mr. Brady: Earlier I pressed the Minister for further clarification on specific points relating to the Government's intention on the status of provisional registration and the treatment of overseas trained teachers, and whether the Government intend all overseas trained teachers should be registered or only those seeking qualified teacher status. Several other questions arise with regard to the application of the registration rules. The Minister indicated earlier that he would add a little flesh to the debate and we look forward to hearing his remarks.

Mr. Timms: We seek to introduce the new category of provisional registration with the GTC in the interests of extending the advantages of regulation of the teaching profession. We intend to extend that form of registration by regulations to overseas trained teachers and trainee teachers, whether they are embarking on a course of initial teacher training or engaged in employment-based training that leads to qualified teacher status. In that way, such teachers would be brought within the framework of the GTC's disciplinary functions and we will want to consider with the GTC the extent to which that will be appropriate.

I hope that the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough, who expressed strong support for the GTC, will welcome that. In addition, as we said in the White Paper in September, we consider that registration should be extended to overseas and trainee teachers with a view to the GTC being able to screen them for their suitability. That would prevent individuals from embarking on an initial teacher training course and to be found unsuitable to join the profession only at the end of their training. I confirm that it is the intention that all overseas trained teachers should be provisionally registered, whether or not they are taking courses that lead to QTS. That addresses the point made by the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West.

Mr. Brady: If all overseas trained teachers should be provisionally registered, is there an appropriate maximum period of provisional registration or circumstances under which it might be expected to end, or is it possible and acceptable, under the Minister's proposals, that an overseas-trained teacher would be provisionally registered and simply remain so?

Column Number: 536

Mr. Timms: When the hon. Gentleman raised this point earlier, he referred to the change of the period for which overseas teachers are currently able to teach and it is indeed, I am relieved to say, the period of four years that is the maximum.

Mr. Brady: My understanding is that the four-year period is the maximum that can be spent as a temporary teacher. Presumably, following that period, it would be possible for a provisionally registered overseas-trained teacher either to become engaged on a more permanent contract or conceivably, and I seek clarification on this, to embark on a further period? Can the Minister enlighten us as to what regulations would prevent that from happening?

 
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