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Earl Russell: My Lords, I would like to say a few words in support of my noble friend Lady Maddock. The Minister's reply on Amendment No. 32 was a little perfunctory. In effect she argued that the Government were satisfied with their own judgment. I am not particularly surprised to hear it: most of us are. But I am becoming increasingly worried by the Government's increasing belief that they can extend their own judgment

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into areas of specialist competence where they really have not the ability to do so. If this goes on they will be selecting our test team next.

A noble Lord: It might help!

A noble Lord: I would have thought that it would be a considerable improvement!

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am not sure that I should comment on that last remark. I am sorry if the noble Earl thought my introduction of our amendments, which are designed to take a step towards what the noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches want, was perfunctory. The Government certainly do not want to sit smugly and rely on their own judgment. On the contrary, we very much recognise the need for nationally established arrangements for moderating standards at the end of induction. These are just the kind of issues that we intend to cover in our consultation document. We intend to consult and to listen before finalising the arrangements.

The standards which new teachers will have to meet in the induction year will eventually be laid down by the Secretary of State. We intend to consult on a draft of those standards. It is very important that we ensure that the process is seen to be fair, robust and equitable for all concerned. One of the reasons why we are bringing forward new arrangements for induction is exactly the kind of reason the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, raised.

It is true that there have been some rather scandalous cases in the past of newly qualified teachers being thrown in at the deepest of deep ends. They have been asked to do more work than some of their more experienced colleagues. Sometimes they have been asked to teach the most difficult class of 15 year-olds in the school. That is exactly the kind of thing that we ought to avoid if we are to ensure that new teachers are given proper support, are able to make reasonable progress, complete the induction year and then become fully qualified and registered teachers.

However, I am encouraged by the reception the House has given to our proposals on induction generally. I am very grateful that the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, has decided that she will not press her amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 2, line 25, at end insert--
("(6A) Regulations under subsection (5) must be framed so as to secure that a majority of the members of the Council are registered teachers who--
(a) either are for the time being employed or otherwise engaged to provide their services as teachers or have had such recent employment or engagement as teachers as may be prescribed; and
(b) satisfy such other criteria as to eligibility for appointment or election to the Council as may be prescribed.

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(6B) In relation to appointments made or elections held before a register is established under section 3, the reference in subsection (6A) to registered teachers is a reference to qualified teachers within the meaning of section 218(2) of the Education Reform Act 1988.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, as I have indicated in previous debates, it is very important that we get the composition of the GTC right. That is why we will be consulting on this issue so that we can be sure that we are proceeding on an agreed basis. I have also agreed that both Houses should have an opportunity to debate the regulations governing the composition of the council. We will therefore be able to have a full debate taking into account the results of the consultation exercise before the final arrangements are put in place.

During Report stage, I brought forward an amendment which would require that at least half the membership of the council should be serving and qualified teachers. This reflected the wording of an amendment brought forward by the noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Maddock. I then withdrew that amendment in the light of an amendment brought forward by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and his colleagues which proposed that teachers should form a majority on the council. Although I do not believe that there is a great deal of difference between "at least half" and "a majority", I recognised that this was an important difference of emphasis and I agreed to look at my amendment again. I have done so and I am now returning with this new amendment.

I believe it is important that teachers who serve on the council should be teachers with recent experience of teaching so that it will benefit from their up-to-date classroom experience. I have carefully considered the points raised during the debate at Report stage by the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, about the valuable contribution that recently retired teachers might be able to make to the work of the council, particularly since they might be able to devote more time to the council's work. This amendment therefore enables regulations to provide for those who have had recent employment as teachers to be eligible for membership. We shall want to ask for views during our consultation exercise on precisely how recent that experience should be. I should not want to run the risk of the council members' knowledge being out of date and out of touch with the rapidly changing work of schools.

I also indicated during previous debate that the Government are committed to ensuring that the interests of denominational schools and teacher training institutions are properly represented on the council. We will be consulting on how this can best be achieved. I also agreed to consider whether we could bring forward an amendment which would make the Government's intentions clearer on the face of the Bill. Members of your Lordships' House will recall the previous debate about whether such an amendment should refer to religious interests or to denominational schools and teacher training institutions. We are still considering how any such amendment should be worded. If it is possible to draft an amendment which will make the Government's intentions clear, while allowing scope for our consultation exercise to ask

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questions about how those interests could be represented, my colleagues in another place will bring forward an amendment during the next stages.

It is also important that the consumers of education are represented on the council. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, brought forward an amendment at earlier stages of the Bill proposing that pupils in schools and parents of pupils in schools should be interests to which the Secretary of State should have regard when making regulations on the composition of the council. I agreed in principle with the amendment, although I indicated that I saw difficulties in how we could go about ensuring that the interests of pupils in schools were represented on the council other than through parent groups. We shall be consulting on how the interests of consumers can be represented on the council. I can, however, also say that my colleagues in another place will bring forward an amendment which will ensure that parents of pupils in schools will be represented on the council.

I hope that Members of your Lordships' House will welcome the amendment and the commitment I have given to look further at how the interests of denominational schools and teacher training institutions, as well as the parents of pupils in schools, can be represented on the council. I beg to move.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, from this side of the House, I welcome the amendment. I am pleased that teachers will form the majority on the council. I am delighted that the Minister has taken note of the suggestion from the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, about the pressure of work on the council which will mean that it has to depend to some degree on recently retired teachers. However, I understand the Minister's worry that they must not be too long retired. I am also grateful that the Minister has given consideration to religious denominations and to the whole range of interests that should be represented on the council.

Having said all those nice things, I must now express a certain regret that the consultation is taking so long. From the correspondence I have received, it seems that the department could have done better. I do not blame the noble Baroness for that, but I believe that with greater acceleration more detail could have been put before us. We have more time in this House and given greater consideration could have been given to these issues. That might have been helpful to the consultation process. As I said at earlier stages, I have a mountain of material on the issue which the noble Baroness is welcome to see.

I welcome the amendment, but perhaps in her long period in office the noble Baroness can persuade the department to move a little more quickly. It is not a department that is noted for its haste.

Lord Tope: My Lords, I too give a warm welcome both to this amendment and to the Minister's promise of more to come. At previous stages we discussed the difficulties that this House has had in dealing with a Bill

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which was so skeletal during the consultation process. One result is that we are gradually filling in more and more of the detail as the Government see the outcome of the consultation process. Perhaps it is as well, however, that we are leaving Members of another place something to do in terms of putting more flesh on the bones of the GTC.

I particularly welcome the amendment because at every stage my colleagues and I have been pressing for the membership of the GTC to comprise a majority of teachers. That proposition has received wide support throughout the House. I am pleased that the Government have now accepted it. I am also pleased that the Minister has recognised that there is a difference between "at least half" and "a majority". The noble Baroness said on Report that that was an important difference of emphasis. That is correct. I commented then that in some circumstances, such as if a casting vote was required, the difference could be even more important than one of mere emphasis. That point has now been recognised and I am delighted with the outcome.

I am also pleased that the Government have taken on board the point, raised by the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, and again supported throughout the House, that recently retired teachers will often have more time, and sometimes more experience, to offer the GTC. I repeat the qualification that I made on Report that one becomes out of date very quickly in this day and age. I am pleased therefore that the amendment recognises that members of the GTC should be recently retired teachers. I know that the Government are consulting further on exactly what is meant by "recently", so I shall not press the Minister further. I hope that proper and careful consideration can be given to getting the best from retired teachers while recognising that, sadly but inevitably, over a period of time, as changes occur, what they are able to offer will become gradually less valuable. Some time limit will be needed. Five years might be appropriate; I leave that thought with the Minister. We welcome what the Minister said and particularly the amendment.

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