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Lord Whitty: It appears from the drafting of the first amendment that the noble Lord aims to do what his Front Bench has argued the Government should not do; namely, to lay down precise formulations and impose a straitjacket on local authorities and governing bodies.

Amendment No. 147 relates to the provision of information. It is clear that at present governing bodies can carry out their functions only if they have the information in a form that they can understand. Most governing bodies will look to the head teacher to provide such information. Clause 41(4) of the Bill places a requirement on the head to provide the governing body with such reports in connection with the discharge of his duties as the governing body may require to enable it to exercise its functions. Clause 41 places a similar duty on head teachers and governing bodies to provide information to the LEA for the purpose of exercising its functions.

These requirements, which reflect existing legislation, are to be further buttressed by the guidance on exchanging information in the proposed code of practice on LEA-school relations. If LEAs, head teachers and governing bodies are to work in partnership they will need to agree among themselves sensible arrangements for exchanging information and the form of that information. The department is providing increasing amounts of information to governors, but it will be up

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to the LEA to agree with governing bodies what further information it can usefully provide to help governors set their schools' performance in context and understand how it compares with others. The effect of the amendment is to try to establish an objective single form of information that applies in all local authorities, whereas we believe that the information which follows discussion between the local authority and the governing body will meet the circumstances of particular areas and schools.

A similar argument applies to Amendment No. 148 which relates to governor training. Local education authorities are well placed to consider along with their governing body partners the type of information and training which governors need to do an effective job. Given the wide range of interests and individuals represented on governing bodies we do not believe that a single centrally imposed model, which the amendment implies, would be the right course of action. Governors are at different stages of development, and have marked differences in knowledge and understanding.

However, we share the noble Lord's concern, which lies behind the amendment, that there should be an improvement in the amount of training for governors. We have already stepped up that provision. That is why the White Paper Excellence in Schools committed the department to issuing guidance on how governors' training needs can best be met, drawing on the best of existing LEA practice. Officials are working with LEA governor trainers to identify good practice, and intend to publish a document in the autumn. In view of all that activity, amendments which imply that there should be one form of training for all governors in all areas should be resisted. There should be a recognition that the back-up and support which the department is giving to governors and LEAs in the provision of training should be supported.

With regard to Amendment No. 152, I understand the noble Lord's anxiety that we should define more closely "high standards" and "educational achievement". If we follow that through, there is a danger that we start to write targets for schools into regulations about governing bodies. That is something we wish to avoid. The regulations proposed in this clause are concerned with things such as establishing the governing body's terms of reference, role and responsibilities, and the respective roles which the head teacher and the governing body should be playing. They are not about setting targets for the school's achievement.

There is plenty of advice in this area. The department has issued recently, for consultation, draft guidance for LEAs on education development plans, which covers pupils' standards of achievement, the quality of teaching and learning, and the quality of leadership and management, including support for governors. Governing bodies clearly have a major role to play in the raising of expectations and of standards. To write into regulations the precise educational targets which governors will be required to deliver would be counter-productive and would not gell well with what is required under the regulations which state the more basic requirements for governing bodies.

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The raising of educational standards is clearly shared by us all. That statement does not pretend to be a defined objective target against which the performance of a governing body can be measured. It is a description of the role which we see governing bodies having in driving up standards in schools in general. We do not wish to be restrictive or prescriptive in the way in which we define that in regulations, as the amendment implies. I understand the noble Lord's anxieties in this area. I hope that he will accept that his amendments would not achieve his objectives.

Lord Lucas: I am grateful to the noble Lord for his reply to the amendments. I accept what he has said. I am delighted to have his assurance about guidance on governor training and information for governors. That answers the question underlying those two amendments. I accept his strictures on Amendment No. 152. I shall read in Hansard tomorrow what he has said, and if I have any further questions I shall write to him. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 148 not moved.]

Schedule 11 agreed to.

Clause 36 [Instruments of government]:

[Amendments Nos. 148A and 148B not moved.]

Clause 36 agreed to.

Schedule 12 [Instruments of government]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 148C:

Page 149, leave out lines 12 to 15 and insert--
("(ii) the categories of person from amongst whose members nominations for the appointment of any additional governors required by virtue of paragraph 15 of Schedule 9 are to be sought,
(iii) the number of such governors for whose appointment nominations are to be sought in the case of each such category of person,
(iiia) where the school is a community special school, whether it has a representative governor by virtue of paragraph 10 of Schedule 9, and").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment has already been spoken to.

Baroness Blatch: I have given notice of my intention to oppose Schedules 11 and 12. I said "not moved" to Amendments Nos. 148A and 148B. I did not say "not moved" to Schedule 11. Schedule 11 has not been called. I am sorry, but I did not hear Schedule 11 called.

Noble Lords: Yes, it has.

Baroness Blatch: The noble Lord has just called Schedule 12. Therefore I shall oppose Schedule 12 and put forward the same arguments as I would have done to Schedule 11.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Burnham): Schedule 12, Amendment No. 148C, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone.

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Baroness Blackstone: It has already been moved.

[Amendment No. 149 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Schedule 12 stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Blatch: If the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, is being allowed to backtrack on having said "not moved" I find that extraordinary. I have been told that I cannot speak to Schedule 11 and go back on what I thought was an omission.

I rise to oppose that Schedule 12 stand part of the Bill. I shall be brief because the arguments were made earlier by my noble friend Lord Pilkington. This really is a straitjacket. The Government have made much of the importance of local flexibility. They have made much of the importance of attending to the wishes of local people and of local schools. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Pilkington suggests that by cancelling out Schedules 11 and 12 we should remove the straitjacket that every school shall be bound by the one single stricture: the one single set of procedures for governing bodies; the one single set of instruments; and the disappearance and abolition of the articles of government. It is the articles of government which give schools their distinctive character. Some schools may not wish to avail themselves. A large proportion of schools in the country may well settle for model guidance and there will be no problem.

However, the Government go for the administrative, tidy solution, because some schools may want distinctive, characteristic, idiosyncratic articles of government which conform to all the laws but nevertheless reflect the distinctive nature of the school and which might give local education authorities more work. Local education authorities are there to serve schools. They are there to serve governing bodies. A number of governing bodies would lament very much the passing of the articles and the fact that they are bound by the single regulatory framework which is offered by Schedules 11 and 12.

It is administratively tidy. It offers no flexibility. It panders to one of the worst notions I can think of: dull uniformity. How can we accept the proposition that dull uniformity should persist? Even the school which the Prime Minister's children attend has distinctive articles of governance which will not be allowed under the Bill because they will be subject to the strictures of the regulations set out in Schedules 11 and 12.

The words "control freaks" have been used about the Government. When one considers the Bill, that is what it adds up to--central control throughout. Membership and proceedings, instruments and articles of government should be a matter for guidance from government. We think that Government should take an interest in it, but the idea that those matters should be hidebound by strict, monolithic sets of regulations flies in the face of what we would all want to see, which is distinctive characteristic diversity at a local level.

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