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Lord Whitty: The amendments cover two points: one regarding the location of the induction period, and the other regarding its length. So far as concerns the question of location, while I find myself in some sympathy with the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, and while it is certainly not the intention in general that anyone should have their induction outside the maintained sector, we need, nevertheless, some flexibility in the matter. That applies particularly to the amendment as it stands as it would exclude an induction period in special non-maintained schools, some of which provide the opportunity for induction for newly-qualified teachers. We would not wish to exclude them.

More broadly, the clause at present does not permit newly qualified teachers to undertake their statutory induction period in an independent school. However, during the consultation period we shall, in an improved relationship with the independent sector, be looking at

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the possibility that we may in certain circumstances decide to allow independent schools to provide such an induction period. That would allow those teachers to move to the maintained sector at a later stage in their career, without having to undertake the statutory induction arrangements. That is a possibility and one that we may attain through reasonable agreement with the private sector. It is not a certainty, but we would certainly not wish to limit that possibility on the face of the Bill.

So far as concerns the length of the induction period, again, we should not be too prescriptive here. I am happy to confirm what I said on Second Reading; namely, that it is our intention that the standard induction period should normally be one academic year. Indeed, it is certainly not our intention that it should be less. However, we intend to consult further on the detailed operation of the induction arrangements before prescribing them in detail. For example, we need to establish specific circumstances in which, for individual reasons, the induction period needs to be extended beyond one year.

Also we may need to establish how the arrangements will apply to those new teachers who undertake their induction period on a part-time basis. That is important. We hope to attract more teachers into doing that on a part-time basis. It is therefore important that the Bill is not unduly prescriptive in order to allow for that kind of flexibility. I hope that in the light of that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendments.

10.30 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: Before the noble Baroness replies to those comments I should say that I did not speak to Amendment No. 70 and I shall not speak at greater length because the matter of the duration of the course has been well covered. The Minister has just said that the Government do not intend it to be less than a year but a document that I received only a couple of days ago states that a period of between two terms and a year is being contemplated. The National Association of Head Teachers is concerned about this. The association members say that if there is to be a course they want it to be a proper course and they want it to be one of substance. Are we talking about a full-time course? If it is to be telescoped into, say, one or two terms, will it be full-time if it is done in such a short time, and then perhaps followed by a day a week or so many hours a week? What are we talking about in terms of hours of study as opposed to a period of a year, two years or three years? As I understand the position at the moment, the period could be up to three years. As I said, the document I have received refers to a period of only two terms.

Lord Tope: Before the Minister responds, I hope I may add a few further points. I am sure I heard the Minister say that the Government did not envisage that the induction period would be less than one year. Presumably, by implication, there might be circumstances where it would be more than one year. If he did say that--I am sure he did--I do not understand

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what the objection is to Amendment No. 71 standing in my name and that of my noble friend which states that the period,

    "shall not be less than one year".

I thought those were almost exactly the words that the noble Lord used in replying to the measure. I am puzzled as to why he feels that that is unacceptable or unnecessarily prescriptive. I should have thought it was quite appropriate to include that in the Bill.

Lord Whitty: It is certainly the current intention of the Government that the induction period should not last less than one year, but there could well be special circumstances in which that may be variable. We are, of course, still in the process of consulting. But it is certainly our current intention that that should be the minimum period. Given that we are consulting about varied circumstances both for individuals and schools, I do not think this should be laid down on the face of the Bill. Our intention has now been repeated several times, but we also have to consider the results of the consultation.

Lord Tope: I shall not pursue this much longer but it would be helpful to have some example of what these special circumstances might be. The Government have said many times that they do not envisage the period to be less than one year. Are we not to put it in the Bill simply because once again we are waiting for the consultation before we can legislate? We are here and we are legislating. The Government have stated many times that what Amendment No. 71 states is their intention. Why cannot we now put it in the Bill? Why cannot the Government make clear to those whom they are consulting that that is their intention? What are the special circumstances that could arise that would make that inappropriate?

Lord Whitty: Many different special circumstances may well occur. I can think of one immediately. Someone who is returning to teaching may not have completed an induction year at an earlier stage through no fault of his own. However, that person has already had some experience. I am not sure whether in those circumstances one would wish to insist on a full induction year. The answer may well be that we would wish to do so, but we need some further feedback on this before we lay it down rigidly in legislation.

Baroness Maddock: I return briefly to Amendment No. 69. Dare I say that I am pleased that a little bit of Old Labour lives on in the noble Lord, Lord Whitty? I would have been disappointed if he had not had some sympathy with the point that I made. In my career in politics I have come across quite a few members of Old Labour whom I think would support this amendment. I understand the points that have been made. This matter may arise again when we consider the Bill at another stage.

I refer to Amendment No. 71. At a later stage, on reflection and having listened to the consultation, I wonder whether the Minister will conclude that there

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is no earthly reason why we cannot have this provision on the face of the Bill. Every utterance has indicated that this is the correct time. If no one outside the Chamber puts forward objections to it, I hope that that provision will be part of the Bill.

In view of the lateness of the hour, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 70 and 71 not moved.]

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 8, line 20, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("General Teaching Council").

The noble Lord said: The amendment relates to the debate which has dominated much of the discussion today. The purpose of the amendment is to authorise the general teaching councils rather than the Secretary of State to determine the standards against which a person employed as a teacher at a school is to be assessed for the purpose of deciding whether he or she has satisfactorily completed his or her induction period. It relates again to the point we have been making consistently throughout the Bill: that that responsibility needs to be with the GTC rather than the Secretary of State. We believe that it is right that the GTC should be given the power to determine the standards against which a teacher's competence during an induction period is assessed. I beg to move.

Baroness David: My amendment, Amendment No. 73, is linked with Amendment No. 72. The only reason for my amendment to delete subsection (3) is to find out what is meant by "the appropriate body"--who will be there as part of it.

Earl Russell: I wish to say a few words in support of Amendment No. 72. The Secretary of State is taking so many of the powers which are being exercised through the general teaching council that I rather wonder why he wants the council. When he looks at the general teaching council he will find that it is a little like looking in the mirror. But the trouble with looking in the mirror is that one does it at the wrong time of day; and the Secretary of State may not like what he sees.

Baroness Blackstone: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tope, for raising an important issue. Perhaps I may say this to the noble Earl, Lord Russell. The Secretary of State already lays down the required standards for qualified teacher status. It is right that he should also determine the standards against which teachers should be assessed for the purposes of deciding whether they have satisfactorily completed the induction period.

As the note we have placed in the Library makes clear, we intend to consult fully on the new professional standards for induction to ensure that they have the full support of all interested parties. We intend to build on the existing qualified teacher status standards, which are themselves the product of wide consultation already by the Teacher Training Agency. We would certainly take into account any advice from the GTC when it is

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established on the content and operation of the new induction standards. Indeed, we have included provision in Clause 2(2) of the Bill to allow the GTC to advise on standards of teaching. But to wait until the GTC is established, in the year 2000, to take its advice would mean an unacceptable delay in introducing the new standards, which we envisage should start from September 1999, and the system will need clear notice some time before then of the standards new teachers will be required to meet.

As the note placed in the Library indicates, we also intend to consult next month to establish effective, unbureaucratic and robust arrangements for the assessment of teachers during their induction period which have the confidence of everyone in the system. As the note indicates, we shall in particular wish to establish the appropriate roles of the new teacher's line manager who is likely to be overseeing and supporting the inductee on a day-to-day basis, the possible role of any advanced skills teacher in that school as a mentor to the new teacher and the role of the head teacher and the appropriate body. With regard to the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lady David on the appropriate body, it may very well be, indeed is highly likely to be, the local education authority which finally fulfils the role and functions of that body. However, I see no value in seeking to prescribe which organisation should fulfil the role of the appropriate body on the face of the Bill as that would pre-empt the terms of our forthcoming consultation on these issues.

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