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Earl Russell: I had of course understood that it was at present the Secretary of State who laid down the standards. I thought this Government believed in devolution, but I see here only a monstrous regiment of reserved powers. I am very sorry.

Baroness Blackstone: As I have already made clear, the existing qualified teacher status standards are themselves the product of wide consultation by the Teacher Training Agency. It is indeed that agency that has taken an absolutely up-front role in trying to decide what these standards should be. So I cannot accept what the noble Earl says on this matter.

Baroness David: I am grateful for what my noble friend the Minister said. She has given me the reassurance that I needed.

Lord Tope: I, too, am grateful to the Minister for her reply, which I shall examine. I still hope that in due course, when the GTC is established, the responsibility will pass there. However, for the time being I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 73 not moved.]

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Inspection of institutions training teachers for schools]:

Baroness Maddock moved Amendment No. 74:

Page 9, line 3, after ("may") insert (", of his own volition or at the request of the appropriate General Teaching Council,").

20 Jan 1998 : Column 1494

The noble Baroness said: This amendment makes it possible for the general teaching council to ask the chief inspector to inquire into any institution or any course which trains teachers or assistants. This is in line with the theme throughout the Committee that we wish to enable the general teaching council to be a body that can take its own initiatives on very important areas to do with the management of its own profession. We should all be concerned that teachers themselves are fully engaged in ensuring that they have the very highest standards in their profession. That is the substance of this amendment.

Lord Whitty: I see that the noble Baroness is moving three amendments. The first, which gives the general teaching councils the powers to request the chief inspector to undertake particular inspections, runs the danger of inspection overload and a conflict between the GTC's priorities and the priorities of the department.

I am of course clear that where the councils can demonstrate that they need particular information from the chief inspector, he will take that into account in designing his own priorities. Indeed, Clause 14(3) already applies in those circumstances. However, it would not be sensible to give the GTCs the direct role of requiring a chief inspector to carry out particular inspections.

Turning to the other two amendments which I understand the noble Baroness is to move, I have slightly more sympathy. We believe that it is implicit in the current wording of the clause that the inspectorate's right to inspect and copy records relates specifically to the records that relate to teacher training. However, for the avoidance of doubt, and recognising that there are certain anxieties in some institutions on this front, I am prepared to recognise the principle behind these amendments and undertake to come forward with some amendments at a later stage, in order, I hope, to allay those anxieties. I trust that in the light of those commitments the noble Baroness will be prepared to withdraw the amendments.

Baroness Maddock: I am grateful to the noble Lord, but one of the amendments is not in fact mine. Amendment No. 78 stands in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. However, I hear what he says. I think he was a little confused about the intention of the amendment, which was not to take away the power of the Secretary of State and replace it with a power of the general teaching council, but that the general teaching council could also be involved when it had concerns about training courses. It was an extra rather than an alternative. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blatch moved amendment No. 75:

Page 9, leave out line 7.

The noble Baroness said: If it is helpful to the House, I shall scoop up all of my remaining amendments; that is, Amendments Nos. 75, 76, 77, 78 and 80. These are all probing amendments; there is no question of pressing them. Their intention is to seek more information.

20 Jan 1998 : Column 1495

The amendments refer to concerns that are widespread throughout the university and higher education sector. The noble Baroness will remember that at Second Reading I had no difficulty with the Government's proposals that teacher training should be inspected. In fact, I believe that there was universal agreement in the Chamber about that. But the noble Baroness will also know that a developed inspection system already operates in higher education under the Quality Assurance Agency. The difficulty we have in practice with regard to how this will work on the ground is the way in which the two systems will dovetail one with the other.

Where there is a free-standing teacher training establishment there is not a problem. Where on a higher education campus there is a free-standing, ring-fenced provision for teacher training, again there is not a problem; it is a very defined area. Where there are courses which are properly identified and funded by the TTA, there is less of a problem. Nevertheless, a great deal of integrated training takes place in the higher education sector.

To take Amendment No. 75 first, my proposal is to take in-service training out of the requirement for inspection. That is not to say that inspecting in-service training is not a good thing, but in-service training takes many forms. Some people do it on their own, of their own volition; they will do distance-learning, work alone or undertake private courses. Some of it is very organised within local education authorities. Some is more formal, when people will go away, funded by their schools or their local education authorities, to recognised courses. It is the variety of in-service training that makes it difficult to have a blanket requirement that it should be inspected. Therefore one would like to see the principle of inspection accepted, but the notion of flexibility would be very important. Higher education bodies, including the CVCP, feel strongly that they would like to see duplication avoided where possible. As the Minister knows, the courses funded by the Teacher Training Agency, for example, may be inspected by Ofsted, as is already written into the current funding agreements between the TTA and higher education institutions. Many in-service programmes are designed to appeal to a wider clientele than serving teachers. The modular structures of many higher education programmes also make it increasingly difficult to single out provision for teachers in this way.

Amendment No. 76 asks for a period of notice. When schools are inspected, they know when it is to happen and they are given time to prepare. There is a great deal of preparation: bringing together all the right materials, making sure that people are available to meet with the inspectors, and so on. The proposal is that any procedural regulations or rules should at least contain the principle that a period of notice should be given. It is important to ensure that institutions are given notice. As initial teacher training is provided in partnership with schools, and sometimes the linking arrangements with schools are complex, time is needed to make the necessary arrangements, not just at the higher education

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level but at school level, too. Similarly, if universities are to be required to make documentation and records available, they will require time in which to do so.

Amendment No. 78 refers to documents. There is concern at the width of the powers conferred on chief inspectors, in particular with regard to the access that they will have to university data and records. The principle that they should have access to records is a good one, but the amendment seeks to ensure that institutions only have to provide documentation which is relevant to the inspection and that it should not be a free-for-all to raid university documents and records.

The final amendment, Amendment No. 80, seeks to limit the powers of the chief inspector to inspect only those elements of a course which deal with teaching. This is the problem to which I referred at the beginning; that is, the difficulty of dovetailing in with the higher education inspection system as well. Increasingly, higher education institutions are developing modular courses where students combine an academic subject or subjects with education to qualify for registration as a teacher. It is difficult to distinguish which elements of a course are teaching and which are subject-specific. There is a real fear among many that inspectors will become involved in courses where the majority of students are not potential teachers at all, but are simply students studying other subjects. I had always thought that the quality and extent of subject-specific teaching was fundamental to teaching ability.

I notice the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, who is a product of higher education, disagrees. He will be talking about this in a moment as it relates to Scotland, but many people in higher education are concerned about duplication of effort. Duplication of effort is not a good thing. It wastes time, money and resources and that is not good for anybody. I am speaking for England and Wales but CVCP again believes that the Bill, as it stands, would result in unnecessary duplication. The academic component of programmes will in any case be assessed by the quality assurance agency under the appropriate processes for higher education. CVCP also argued that it believes that the interests of the chief inspector should lie with those components of the course which relate to preparing trainees to be effective teachers to teach children.

As I say, the rationale behind the amendment is to make sure that the two inspection systems eliminate duplication but nevertheless meet the objectives both of inspecting higher education generally and inspecting teacher training specifically. I beg to move.

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