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Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 19:


Page 6, line 16, after ("fees,") insert--
("( ) the administration charges which may be deducted from any fees remitted to the relevant Council,").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is a technical amendment which clarifies what has been our intention from the start--that teachers' employers should have the additional costs they incur in collecting GTC registration fees covered by allowing them to retain a portion of the money collected.

I hope there is broad support in your Lordships' House for our overall approach. The GTC should use the most efficient and effective way of collecting its registration fee from teachers. Clause 10 of the Bill enables the Secretary of State to make regulations which will require employers to deduct the registration fee for the GTC from teachers' salaries and pay it to the GTC. That is a much more efficient approach than requiring teachers to make individual payments to the council. It is the method used by the GTC for Scotland. There are over half a million teachers who will be required to register with the GTC and many more who will wish to join on a voluntary basis. It would be an expensive administrative exercise, and excessively bureaucratic, if each teacher was expected to make a separate payment to the council, all the more so, given that the registration fee is likely to be set at a modest level. The GTC will set the fees, with the approval of the Secretary of State, but I have every reason to believe that they will look to set a fee at a similar level to the £20 per year levied by the GTC for Scotland. We have spoken to the Local Government Association and it believes that this approach is workable. We will continue to work with it and will, of course, consult more widely before making regulations.

I wish to move this amendment because I think it is right that teachers' employers should be reimbursed for any reasonable costs they incur in undertaking the collection of teachers' registration fees on behalf of the GTC. That has been our intention from the outset, but I am advised that the wording in the clause is not sufficiently clear on this point. Amendment No. 19 puts the matter beyond doubt.

The details of how this will work will be set out in the regulations made under Clause 10. We will consult on these matters, but our intention is that the regulations will cover the level of administrative charges which employers may make for conducting the work. We understand that administration is likely to take up between 2 per cent. and 4 per cent. of the fees collected. The regulations may allow for different levels of administrative charge, if consultation shows that that is necessary. For example, a big city LEA with thousands

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of teachers may benefit from considerable economies of scale. For teachers in a foundation school, within the new school framework being considered in another place, the employer will be the governing body. Although many governing bodies contract in their payroll services from the LEA or from commercial providers, that requirement may nonetheless represent a greater proportionate burden. Where that is the case, the regulations could allow for some employers to make larger administrative charges. Similar consideration may apply to supply teachers or teachers working for supply agencies.

In all cases, we would expect the administrative charges to reflect a reasonable level of costs, which should only be a very small fraction of the sums collected. We will work with the local authority associations and others to ensure that employers use the most efficient administrative systems to deduct the registration fees. I beg to move.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I accept the necessity for this amendment. I shall not go into detail but I should point out that even the Garrick Club gives me a vote. Although the administrative costs are to be covered, I prophesy that there will be resentment about the charge even of £20 for a body which is purely advisory. The bursars or administrators dealing with it will say, "What a waste of time", even though the costs are to be covered.

Lord Tope: My Lords, I am just pondering on what the noble Lord does with his vote at the Garrick Club and whether that has any bearing on similar votes that the MCC has conducted this week.

I welcome this amendment and the statement made by the Minister. I do so as leader of a council which employs several thousand teachers. While, as the Minister said, I believed that would be the case, I welcome the clarification which is given here on the face of the Bill and in the words of the Minister. Like the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, I cannot go into the detail of the matter today. I welcome the Minister's recognition of the different levels of employer, if I may express the matter in those terms. We shall certainly look at the detail with much interest. However, the principle is welcome and I am pleased to see this amendment.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, it may be of interest to noble Lords that I belong to a well-known club in Edinburgh and I do not have a vote because I am a woman.

Lord Annan: My Lords, I am sure that this is a wise amendment. However, I should point out that it underlines the fact that this council will be a drain on teachers' salaries. People are talking about more and more duties and abilities for the council. That means that fees will rise unless they are kept under control.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am grateful to those who have supported the amendment. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, does not believe that

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teachers want a GTC of the kind that we are proposing. I beg to differ. I believe that many teachers will welcome the decision, after so long, to establish a GTC. I believe that they well understand the evolutionary approach which the noble Lord has supported.

I should say to the noble Lord, Lord Annan, that our attention is not to allow the registration fee for the GTC to rise unduly. It is very important that the costs of the GTC should be kept at a reasonable level and that we should not require teachers to pay enormous sums of money. Indeed, we have no intention of doing so.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I intervene on a point of clarification. What mechanisms are the Government planning to use to curtail the activities of this body? As I understand it from previous speeches that the noble Baroness has made, it can have conferences, commission research and advise on all the functions set out in Clause 2. People will attend, work and report to it. It will make publications. What mechanism will the Government use to curtail its activities and keep it within cost?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, we shall not need a mechanism. Everything that has been said in this House this afternoon has argued in favour of a GTC which gives teachers responsibilities and which is expected to behave responsibly. Everything that has been said implies that. I am sure that is what the GTC will do. In any event, were it to spend huge sums of money on things that were not of interest to teachers, they would very soon complain and that would affect their future decisions and behaviour.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 12 [Qualifications of head teachers]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 20:


Page 7, line 18, at end insert--
("( ) After subsection (1) there shall be inserted--
"(1A) The Secretary of State shall not make regulations under subsection (1)(ab) above until he is satisfied that a sufficient number of head teachers have obtained a professional headship qualification to meet the demand for head teachers so qualified that is likely to exist once such regulations have come into force."").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, again, I repeat at the outset that this is a measure with which we agree in principle but we are extremely concerned about its compulsory nature and the wholesale inflexibility as regards the way it will work. We tried to persuade the Minister to consider some flexibility and that was rejected. Therefore, it is important to reflect some of the concerns that teachers have about this particular measure.

As the Bill is well on its way through both Houses, perhaps the Minister could at this stage give us an outline prediction as to when this clause will in fact be implemented. In other words, can she say by what date it is likely that it would be a requirement for any teacher appointed to any school within the state system to have such a qualification?

There are a number of questions which have still not been properly answered and which concern teachers. For example, who will select the teachers for training and

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on what basis? What will be the geographical spread of teachers becoming available with the qualification? To what extent will the number of trainees--that is, the potential candidates--match the uneven turnover of heads around the country? Finally, when will the pool of teachers with this qualification be large enough to provide a healthy choice of applicants for all schools in the country?

If this qualification should become a requirement, there would be a danger of there not being enough people in the pool of teachers and, therefore, schools would have no choice. They would have to take teachers from a very inadequately qualified pool. As this becomes a requirement, it really will not be good enough not to recognise the fact that teachers will wish to see provision for cover at school. At present, it is a voluntary scheme. It is working quite well, although it is not without its problems. Indeed, it already shows that one of the tensions that has been manifest is that schools are reluctant to let teachers go to take up such training. Moreover, teachers are being invited to undertake such training at weekends. That is fine at present while it is a voluntary scheme. However, if it becomes a requirement that they must have such a qualification, then teachers will inevitably ask for cover; schools will expect such cover to be paid for by the local authority; and, indeed, teachers will be much more reluctant to undertake the training, which is a requirement under the law, so as to gain promotion to headships. They will, of course, be more reluctant to undertake such training in their own time.

6 p.m.

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, I keep in touch with the Teacher Training Agency. Indeed, I have met the civil servants who are involved in the matter, and this is one of the points that I have raised. As the noble Baroness said, we are discussing a most important point. We cannot have teachers taking time off from school, especially when there are shortages, and so on. I believe that the noble Baroness recognised in her speech that we are actually talking about weekend training. I know that intentions may not always be followed up, but the intention is to keep it that way so that there will be an absolute minimum of disruption in the schools while teachers take such courses.


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