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Baroness Maddock: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. It has been quite helpful for us to find out precisely how the Government view the role of acting head teachers. The Minister used the phrase "for as long as is necessary". The concerns that I have raised in relation to this amendment are concerns of head teachers. It may have been rather more helpful if the Minister had indicated what he thought was necessary and what was over-the-top, as it were, in terms of having an appointment that was not permanent. I am aware, as other noble Lords will be, that in some areas of the country where it is difficult to recruit head teachers, there may be a situation in which there is an acting head teacher for a long time. I suggest that that is not good for the school and it is certainly not good for the head teacher because an acting head teacher who is left to be an acting head teacher for a long time does not have the

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same commitment to the job as a permanent holder of the post. Therefore, I am rather disappointed that the Minister did not indicate what was acceptable but instead used the phrase "for as long as is necessary".

As regards the other two amendments, I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying how the Government wish to introduce into the regulations, or elsewhere in the Bill, when there is a dismissal, the concept that there can be independent support for whoever is being dismissed. It is interesting because the Minister and I obviously have the same briefing note, word for word. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 130 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 131:


Page 180, line 14, at end insert (", or
(b) the person in question is a teacher who is subject to a conditional registration, suspension or prohibition order made under Schedule 2 to the 1998 Act (disciplinary powers of General Teaching Council).").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment when I moved Amendment No. 127. I beg to move.

Baroness Young: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, but he spoke extremely rapidly when dealing with that group of amendments and I wish to raise a question on this amendment which deals with the dismissal of teachers. If I understood him correctly, he spoke about three reasons for dismissal which are those usually accepted: misconduct, failure in the probationary year and another one which I did not quite catch. I believe that it was a failure to carry out the appropriate work of the school, or words to that effect.

We all accept and understand that dismissal of teachers is a very serious matter and, when it occurs, it is obviously a very important matter. From reading Schedule 16, it seems to me that that carries out the normal procedure for dismissing teachers for the normal reasons. But a year ago we heard a great deal about a fast-track procedure for incompetent teachers, which is rather to difficult to define. I wondered whether I had missed something and whether or not that issue is covered in the schedule of the Bill.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Baroness has spoken on Amendment No. 131 which is concerned with,


    "conditional registration, suspension or prohibition order made under Schedule 2 to the 1998 Act (disciplinary powers of General Teaching Council)".
That relates to the Teaching and Higher Education Act. It may help the noble Baroness if I spell out in more detail what that provides because that may address the question she raises about what kind of offences would be appropriate. I will approach it from the other end and deal with what kind of action the General Teaching Council may take.

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There are four kinds of disciplinary order of increasing gravity which the General Teaching Council will be able to make: a reprimand, a conditional order--which is what the amendments are concerned with-- a suspension order and a prohibition order. Both suspension and prohibition will mean that a teacher will be taken off the register and will not be eligible to teach in a maintained school. That will lead to the dismissal of a serving teacher unless the employer is able to provide alternative non-teaching work. That is really the answer to the noble Baroness's question about the fast-track procedure. If it is the two most serious sorts of disciplinary order made by the General Teaching Council, that is where the fast-track procedure comes into effect.

A conditional order will not mean that a teacher is taken off the register, but certain conditions will be applied to his or her practice as a teacher. Some conditional orders may require the teacher's dismissal; for example, the GTC might stipulate the condition that a person could not teach pupils of certain ages or teach specified subjects.

The amendments that we have been discussing are not about the fast-track procedures as such; they are the local school procedures for considering incompetence. What we are doing by way of these amendments is to incorporate the provisions from the Teaching and Higher Education Bill on the establishment of the GTC.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 55 [Staffing of foundation, voluntary aided and foundation special schools]:

[Amendment No. 131A not moved.]

Schedule 17 [Staffing of foundation, voluntary aided and foundation special schools]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 132 and 133:


Page 181, line 3, at end insert--
("( ) registration,").
Page 181, line 6, leave out ("and") and insert ("or").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Viscount Allenby of Megiddo): My Lords, before calling Amendment No. 133A I should inform the House that if this amendment be agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 134.

[Amendment No. 133A not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 134:


Page 183, line 2, leave out ("accept") and insert ("approve").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 134A to 134J not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments No. 135 and 136:


Page 187, line 5, at end insert--
("( ) The governing body or head teacher shall, when exercising that power, immediately inform the head teacher or (as the case may be) governing body.").

2 Jul 1998 : Column 892


Page 187, line 7, at end insert--
("( ) The governing body shall, on ending such a suspension, immediately inform the head teacher.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 137 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 138 and 139:


Page 187, line 21, at beginning insert ("Where their decision is that a person should have his contract of employment terminated, then,").
Page 187, line 40, at end insert--
("25A. The governing body are not required to comply with paragraph 24 in relation to the making of such a decision as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) of that paragraph in a case where--
(a) the termination or non-renewal of the contract of employment of the person in question is required by virtue of regulations under section 218 of the Education Reform Act 1988 or section 19 of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, or
(b) the person in question is a teacher who is subject to a conditional registration, suspension or prohibition order made under Schedule 2 to the 1998 Act (disciplinary powers of General Teaching Council).").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

7.15 p.m.

Clause 61 [Responsibility of governing body and head teacher for discipline]:

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 140:


Page 48, line 21, at end insert--
("(c) registered pupils at the school, and
(d) teaching and non-teaching staff at the school.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving the above amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 142A. In addition, Amendment No. 141 tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and Amendments Nos. 143, 144 and 145 tabled in the name of my noble friend Lady Blackstone have also been included in this grouping.

The purpose of the two amendments in my name is to ensure that staff and pupils are consulted about the principles and details of disciplinary measures. When rejecting these amendments in Committee, my noble friend Lord Whitty said:


    "I agree that it is important to involve pupils and staff when drawing up the school's discipline policy. It is not our intention to exclude teachers from that area. It is our aim to ensure that teaching staff in particular should make a contribution to drawing up a school's discipline policy.


    However, the question is where, how and when that input takes place for both pupils and staff. Our approach is that that should be a matter for individual schools in the light of their particular circumstances. In some cases that may be before the governing body makes its statement of general principles; in others, head teachers may decide that it is best to consult pupils and staff when determining the detailed rules and codes of conduct. Therefore, for reasons of flexibility we are not convinced that it is necessary to include a specific requirement on the face of the Bill for widespread consultation either by the governing body or the head teacher. Schools require flexibility, and that is best left to guidance rather than wording on the face of the Bill".--[Official Report, 8/6/98; cols. 705 and 706.]

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There are a number of responses to my noble friend's statement. He said that it is important to involve pupils and staff in the drawing up of a school's discipline policy, but there is no provision on the face of the Bill to do so. As the discussion in Committee made clear, putting something into guidance does not make it a requirement on schools--who can and do disregard guidance. Only legislation has any effect on practice. I believe that, unless the Bill itself is amended, a great many schools will definitely not involve staff or pupils in the process.

My noble friend objected to pupils and teachers either being involved when the general principles are set by the governors or when the detail about rules, sanctions and so forth is determined by the head teacher. It is obviously important that they should be involved at both stages. Governors have to consult parents about the general principles. This was agreed by the Conservative Government in 1997, when the Labour Front Bench attempted to ensure that parents, teachers and pupils were involved. Now is the opportunity to ensure that the whole school is engaged in the exercise--how could this not be a healthy and constructive procedure? As regards the head teacher's determination of the rules and regulations, it is equally important that the whole school community is consulted, so that they, to use current jargon, have "ownership" of the behaviour code. This is particularly important now the Government have agreed that bullying-prevention measures must be included. I am particularly grateful to the Government for tabling that amendment. You cannot stop bullying unless you actively involve pupils and teachers in the process.

My noble friend wanted to have "flexibility". The amendment provides for a great deal of flexibility as to how pupils and staff are consulted. This could range from a fairly cursory paper consultation to a full-scale, whole school exercise involving classroom discussions, questionnaires, and so on. However, the amount of work involved would not be sufficiently onerous, given that the Bill already obliges the governing body to consult parents, and the head teacher to take steps to bring the measures to the attention of parents, school employees and pupils every school year.

These, of course, are the reactive arguments to the Government's negative response. The positive arguments are that the value of involving staff and pupils in determining the behaviour codes of schools cannot be overestimated. As regards pupils, the exercise would obviously contribute to their moral and social education (as required under the aims of the national curriculum) and to a greater likelihood of the behaviour codes being understood and upheld by them. As regards teachers and other staff--for example, dinner and playground superintendents, who have to deal with a lot of this misbehaviour--it is extremely foolish to leave them out of the process. Indeed, it would be lowering to their morale and likely to result in unworkable measures. After all, it is the pupils and staff, not the governing body or the parents, who will actually have to put the code into practice. It is extremely important

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for staff and pupils to be consulted about disciplinary measures. I hope that I shall receive a better response from the Government this time. I beg to move.


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