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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, they will not lose that facility. I made that clear in my response.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, as I understand it, that part of the 1991 Act is to be repealed. Is the noble Lord saying that there is to be a bridging provision?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am not permitted to go on responding. I am sorry.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, perhaps the Minister will write to me to tell me what will be the effect of repealing this provision. I should like to know whether it will be possible for any school to avail itself of the disapplication provisions. Under the new provision, which schools will be able to avail themselves of those provisions? I should be grateful if the noble Lord will write to me on that issue. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 41 not moved.]

Clause 15 [Cases where LEA may exercise powers of intervention]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 42:

Page 13, line 33, at end insert ("(whether or not the notice is combined with a notice under section 62(3)(c)).").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is simply a consequential amendment to take account of the amendments made in Committee to Clause 62. We brought forward these amendments to Clause 62 to allow an LEA wishing to invoke Clause 62(1) (which gives such authorities reserve powers to prevent a breakdown in discipline) as well as one or both of Clauses 16 and 17 to do so without having to invoke two distinct warning notice procedures: a Clause 15 warning notice in respect of Clauses 16 and 17 and a Clause 62(2) warning notice in respect of Clause 62(1).

Those amendments which were made in Committee will now allow LEAs to make use of these different powers in a flexible way, without having to serve

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different types of notice, which could be confusing as well as bureaucratic. The amendment now needs to be reflected in Clause 15 and that is what the amendment seeks to achieve. I urge the House to accept it. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. However, can he tell the House what warning notices will now be given under the new arrangements?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, there will be a single warning notice if one wished to invoke either of those clauses for the action provided under Clause 62 and under Clauses 16 and 17. It is a single warning and one would not have to issue two distinct warnings if there was going to be an intervention.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 18 [Power of Secretary of State to appoint additional governors]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 17, line 21, at end insert--
("( ) Before making any such appointment in relation to a voluntary aided school, the Secretary of State shall consult--
(a) in the case of a Church of England school, a Church in Wales school or a Roman Catholic Church school, the appropriate diocesan authority; or
(b) in any other case, the person who appoints the foundation governors.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment responds to the concerns raised in Committee by the right reverend Prelate. We have given further consideration to the points that he made and I am pleased that we have been able to meet his concerns.

The amendment is concerned with the case of a voluntary-aided school which requires special measures and to which the Secretary of State wishes to appoint additional governors. Before doing so, he must consult the relevant diocesan authority for a Church of England, Church in Wales or Roman Catholic school. For any other voluntary-aided school he must consult those entitled to appoint the foundation governors. I beg to move.

The Lord Bishop of Ripon: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister. When I moved a similar amendment in Committee I received--dare I say it?--a somewhat dusty answer. I am delighted that this fresh look at the issue has produced such a positive amendment. However, I have to point out to the House that the government amendment is almost word for word the amendment that I tabled at an earlier stage. I was delighted then to withdraw my amendment in favour of a government amendment. I should also point out that I have no amendments left to move at this stage as our concerns have been so thoroughly met. As I said, I am grateful to the noble Baroness.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Clause 20 [New categories of maintained schools]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 18, line 34, at end insert--
("( ) grant-maintained schools;

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we are now dealing with an aspect of the Bill upon which the Minister and I must agree to differ. Nevertheless, it is important for us to put the case for grant-maintained schools.

I said a moment ago that I believe it is important that, among all the other variety of schools, GM schools should remain part of the educational scene. They have proven their worth and have been very successful. No one has advanced an argument against their record. They have enjoyed delegation both operationally and financially and, to my knowledge, they have risen to the challenge very well. Indeed, so much so that the Government have tried to re-invent something akin to GM schools in their stead. However, they have to achieve the same degree of autonomy. Having read the fair funding paper, I believe that there is a great deal left to be done.

Amendment No. 90 is consequential, but Amendment No. 45 relates to democracy. The parents of the children who attend these schools voted for them to become GM schools. It was a choice made by them. They had to overcome a number of hurdles in order to become GM schools. As I have said before, many schools suffered great trauma on the route to becoming grant maintained. In fact, only this week I met with a head teacher who I think may perhaps like to talk to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. He could describe exactly what he and his governors went through in the process of becoming grant maintained. I seem to remember the noble Lord challenging me to say whether the police were involved in a certain incident. It was indeed a very unpleasant situation.

Nevertheless, those people fought and won through the system in order to become grant maintained. But now, at the stroke of a pen, they will lose that status and have to choose whether to become foundation schools, community schools or voluntary-aided schools. It seems to me that nothing will be lost by leaving them as GM schools and, should they so wish, allowing the parents to do what they did to become grant maintained; namely, to take a ballot of parents and make a choice as to whether or not they wish the school to become a foundation school, a community school or a VA school.

I do not think that there is much more to be said other than to point out that this is a fundamental issue of democracy. I hope that the Minister will at least accept that a number of schools have very strong views on the matter. It is interesting that it has often been said that grant-maintained schools are happy with the position. That is not the case. However, they are realists. They are resigned to the massive majority in the other place. They know that the Government will go ahead with this measure. The grant-maintained schools have worked strenuously to achieve as many favourable changes as possible under the new proposals. They have been partially successful in that. However, we should still make the case to retain them and for them to retain their

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degree of autonomy under the new arrangements. That would not in any way inhibit the Government from making progress in raising standards of education in our schools. I believe they are genuinely interested in making that progress. I beg to move.

9.15 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has raised many of the same points which we covered in Committee. She will find no disagreement from this side of the House on the many positive experiences of grant-maintained schools. I readily accept that many of them have been successful. However, she completely ignores the obvious flaws of the grant-maintained system.

Three years ago we published Diversity and Excellence. This set the principles underpinning our new framework for schools; namely, diversity, school self-management, fairness and partnership. We proposed a new foundation category which would preserve the best features of grant-maintained schools. We had absolutely no desire then or now to disrupt those aspects of the grant-maintained initiative which have worked well. Our proposals in that policy document formed a key part of the White Paper and are now reflected in the Bill.

The foundation and voluntary aided categories will allow grant-maintained schools to retain many of their key characteristics. For example, governing bodies will remain the employer of the school's staff. The governing bodies and trustees of grant-maintained schools will continue to own and manage the school's premises. This is something which we know grant-maintained schools value and it will, of course, be retained. Governing bodies of grant-maintained schools will remain their school's admission authority. They will have responsibility for determining the school's admission arrangements and for allocating places to the school. On statutory proposals, governing bodies will retain their powers to publish proposals to make significant changes of character to the school.

But in recognising the positive aspects of the grant-maintained initiative, we must also address its flaws. Dividing schools from LEAs is not the way to build a modern education sector. Giving one sector preferential treatment over another led to discord. We shall raise standards through encouraging partnership and co-operation, not competition and division. It is undeniable that some schools went grant-maintained because of a poor relationship with their LEA. Others went grant-maintained in order to avoid being closed. We want to see such disagreements left in the past. This Bill establishes a new role for LEAs and places schools firmly in control of their own success. The relationship between LEAs and schools must be a constructive and productive one if the challenging targets on raising standards we have set are to be met.

However, there may be occasions where LEAs and schools disagree about the best way to secure school improvement, and that may not apply just to former grant-maintained schools. It may apply to county schools or voluntary schools. Some relationships will

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need rebuilding. That is why we have a code of practice. The current draft reflects a consensus between all the key players--including representatives from the grant-maintained sector--about the general principles which must underpin successful working relationships, including intervention in inverse proportion to success. That is obviously sensible. It also represents general agreement on how LEAs should use their powers to ensure that schools receive the right level of support and are protected from unnecessary interference. Where disagreements occur we would expect that reference to the code would normally be sufficient to resolve the situation.

The noble Baroness will also be aware that we shall monitor LEA performance through a number of other mechanisms, such as EDPs and Ofsted inspections, to ensure that they are conducting themselves in an appropriate and effective manner. The new framework will also bring grant-maintained schools back into a local partnership with other schools. Dividing grant-maintained and LEA schools created damaging tensions. The Bill devolves power over admissions and planning of school places to a local level. These new arrangements will bring schools closer together. All schools, whatever their background, will have a role in building a consensus about how best to raise standards in their community.

I hope that on the basis of what I have said the noble Baroness will agree that once the new framework is in place we shall see an end to an obsession with structures which has so damaged the debate on education in the past decade. The stability that the new framework brings will allow schools to concentrate on achieving higher standards.

The noble Baroness wants to allow grant-maintained schools to continue in isolation from the new partnership. Her amendments seek to continue the debate about structures at the expense of standards. They leave the future of grant-maintained schools in the hands of constant parental ballots. That uncertainty is not in the best interests of grant-maintained schools, the children who are pupils in them or the education system as a whole. I therefore urge the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

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