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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, before we move to the Statement, I should like to take this opportunity to remind the House that the Companion indicates that discussion on a Statement should be confined to brief comments and questions for clarification. Peers who speak at length do so at the expense of other noble Lords.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, with permission, I shall now repeat a Statement on teachers: restructuring and rewards that has been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. The Statement is as follows:
"Over the last 18 months, this Government have shown their determination to raise standards. Children are learning to read effectively in the new literacy hour. Infant class sizes are falling for the first time in a decade. We are rapidly expanding specialist schools and developing education action zones. We have tackled failure whenever and wherever it exists and we are providing £19 billion to invest in improving education across the UK over the next three years. This is money for reform and modernisation, to give our children opportunities denied for far too long.
"Teaching is at the heart of our drive to raise standards. Good teachers are our most precious asset in raising aspiration and achievement. That is why today I am proposing a fundamental step forward for the profession. Our first objective is to develop a new career structure which will recruit, retain and reward the teachers we need.
"Under the present system, after seven years, a good classroom teacher earns around £22,500. Further reward is paid only for responsibility, rarely for performance. The Government believe this must change. That is why we are proposing two new pay scales for teachers, separated by a performance threshold.
"There will be a tough new appraisal system. Up to the threshold, teachers would progress as now. To cross the threshold, teachers will need to demonstrate high and sustained levels of achievement and commitment. Heads will appraise and review their progress, under-pinned by external assessment. This will ensure credibility and consistency.
"Success in crossing the threshold would mean an initial salary increase of up to 10 per cent.--or around £2,000 a year--and access to further pay steps on this higher scale, based on appraisal of performance. Teachers could then either take on more leadership responsibilities or concentrate on high performance in classroom teaching. Over time we would expect a majority of teachers to be of a standard to cross the threshold.
"Our second objective is to strengthen school leadership. Good heads are the key to success. We need to develop strong leaders, reward them well and give them the freedom to manage. Successful heads who have turned around the most challenging schools
"We also want to reward staff for teamwork in raising standards. Our new annual school performance bonus would provide a significant number of schools with a financial reward--payable as a bonus available to all staff--for improved performance achieved year on year and for sustained good results.
"Our third objective is to have a well trained profession. We are establishing the General Teaching Council, and have introduced a curriculum for initial teacher training--with Ofsted inspection--and the induction year for newly qualified teachers. Today I can announce that we intend to go further by introducing a new national test for all trainee teachers in numeracy, literacy and ICT. Additional help will be available to mature entrants in achieving this standard.
"It is vital we attract the best graduates into teaching and ensure that our outstanding teachers can move quickly up the profession. Industry and the civil service have fast tracks. We plan to introduce a fast track for teaching to enable good new teachers to make rapid progress.
"Every teacher should keep their expertise up to date. To help them to do so, we are investing in better training in literacy, numeracy and information technology and in improving the quality and availability of teachers' professional development. A pilot scheme of individual learning accounts will encourage all school staff to invest in their skills over and above government funding. We will enable more training to take place out of school hours to minimise disruption to pupils' education through over-reliance on supply cover.
"Our final objective is to provide better support for teachers in the classroom. From the investment in repair and renewal, through to the learning grid, we are committed to creating the classroom of the future. Today I propose a new targeted fund to improve the working environment for all staff, giving teachers access to the equipment they need.
"The teacher of the future will also make better use of the talent of support staff in schools. Many teachers already use teaching assistants to help with literacy and numeracy or to support children with special needs. Over the next three years we shall fund at least 20,000 additional qualified teaching assistants with improved training, qualifications and opportunity. We are also keen to see the use of undergraduate and postgraduate students earning while learning, together with those from the wider community.
"We also want to support small schools to share facilities, technicians or bursary support. I can announce today that a new small school support fund will pilot new ways of working together. This will benefit many rural schools.
"This Green Paper contains radical and modernising proposals which will help to transform the standards and status of teaching in this country. This is about something for something. For the first time in years, a commitment to invest and reward teachers in return for a new professionalism is on offer. This will mean greater individual accountability, more flexibility and higher standards.
"We intend to consult widely with teachers, parents, local authorities and governors, for whom we shall provide support and expert guidance to help them implement our proposals. The vision of a world-class service for our children in the next century is one I believe we all share. Good teachers and support staff are the key to achieving that vision. It is to prepare for that new century, to celebrate the value and worth of our teachers, and for the sake of our children, that I commend these proposals to the House today."
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Baroness for repeating the Statement. I have not had time to read it carefully. The letter that came with it said that I was being given advance notice of it, but in fact it was delivered to my office at three o'clock this afternoon. As I thought the Statement was to be given at 3.30, not 4.30, I was doubly disadvantaged. I shall read it very carefully. Teachers will wish to read the Statement carefully, too, because it leaves a great deal of detail still to be understood.
We support wholeheartedly the notion that good teachers should be rewarded and that they should be encouraged to continue to improve their professional skills throughout their working life. The setting up of the Pay Review Body was important because it gave teachers confidence that pay was being considered externally from government. It will be helpful at this stage, as we draw nearer to the settlement, if the Government can assure teachers that they are to receive the recommended pay award that will come from the Pay Review Body. This will be important in the context of this paper. Can the noble Baroness confirm that a supplementary letter has been sent to the Pay Review Body entreating it to hold the pay award at an affordable level?
It is true that fewer teachers are entering the profession and that that must be addressed. As a result of the introduction of tuition fees applications for the bachelor of education course have fallen considerably in the current year. Calling teachers "sneering cynics", as the Secretary of State for Education did recently, does not help when one is trying to encourage them and gain their confidence.
Once again we have yet another announcement of the £19 billion extra for education. This is one policy that is never knowingly undersold. I recently asked the noble Baroness for a breakdown of the expenditure of that £19 billion. The list of headings that it will be used for include a major boost to standards of literacy and
The noble Baroness made a number of statements with which I agree, but the purpose of this short time is to pose questions so that we understand the Statement more fully. Under the present system, as the noble Baroness pointed out, after seven years classroom teachers earn about £22,500. There is to be a new scale--in fact the noble Baroness described it as two scales. Is my understanding correct that there will be a linear scale and that part of the way up that line there will be a bar through which no teacher can go without producing evidence that they have reached a particular standard that makes them worthy of going beyond £22,500? If I understand the Statement correctly, teachers who do not achieve that standard will remain at £22,500 and teachers who reach it will receive the reward.
Will all teachers who reach that standard qualify? It is said in the Statement that the hope is that the majority of teachers will reach that threshold. On a quick calculation, the cost of that would be £900 million. It would be helpful, particularly for local authorities, to know whether the money will be in the system to meet that cost.
According to the Statement, the Government hope that this will be achieved in something under seven years. In other words, it is an accelerated way of helping very good teachers go through the scale. I have no argument with that in principle, but I wonder whether the noble Baroness can say something about time-scale. In the Times Educational Supplement of 20th November the Secretary of State said:
What is said in the Statement about successful heads is welcome in that heads who are appointed specifically to turn around a failing school are asked to meet a great challenge. But is that all there is to be said about heads? Is the noble Baroness saying that the only heads who
The whole-school reward is another interesting proposition. How is a school to be assessed? If the Government intend to reward individual teachers and whole schools, is it better to be a good teacher in a bad school or a bad teacher in a good school? That question sounds flippant, but it is not. It will be very important as regards rewarding the outstanding teacher who is working in a school that would not be singled out for a whole-school award.
The test for teachers is an interesting proposition. It is a sad indictment that teachers have to be given numeracy and literacy tests in order to enter the teaching profession, particularly primary teachers who will teach those two subjects. Is the consequence of failing those tests that they will not proceed with their teacher training and not enter the system?
I deal next with individual learning accounts. Reference is made to a pilot scheme of individual learning accounts which will encourage all school staff to invest in their skills over and above government funding; in other words, I believe that it will be at the teacher's own expense. If it is over and above government funding whose funding is it? It goes on to say that that will enable more training to take place out of school hours. I read that as meaning that teachers shall be encouraged to do more training at their own cost and in their own time. If I have it wrong, perhaps I may be disabused of it.
The noble Baroness said that schools would be encouraged to use the talents of support staff. I have not come across many schools that do not have very good ways of using talented support staff. Their problem is not lack of encouragement to use it but money to meet
It was said that the Green Paper is modernising and radical. Teachers will be vigilant about how it is delivered and whether it is properly costed and funded. I should like to ask about the automaticity of all of the schemes to which the noble Baroness referred. I shall continue to be vigilant and I shall read both the Green Paper and the brochure very carefully. I advise school teachers to be as vigilant as I am, as I am sure they will.
Lord Tope: My Lords, I have begun many debates in your Lordships' House by declaring an interest. I must do so now given the subject of this Statement. My wife is employed as a teacher. I have just acquired an additional interest in that my son, who will graduate next summer, has applied to train as a teacher. I believe that I shall have a considerable pecuniary interest in the future of these proposals.
I start by thanking the Minister for repeating the Statement. I warmly welcome the fact that the Government are to tackle this extremely important issue. It has always appeared to be a nonsense to all of us that good and successful teachers are rewarded by having to do less and less teaching and more and more administration. It is true that being a very good teacher does not necessarily make one a very good administrator. That has always seemed to me to be a nonsense. If these proposals enable good and successful teachers to use their skills more in the classroom and less on paper work, I am sure that that will be welcomed by everyone.
The Minister is right to say that successful schools depend on strong and good quality leadership. I am pleased that there are proposals to reward and recognise the strong leadership that is needed not only by heads, although that is particularly important, but also by other skilled senior staff. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, I have had only a short time to skim through the Green Paper. While I make no complaint about that, I welcome its broad thrust, provided that I have understood it correctly. I believe that I have. However, perhaps the Minister can confirm that, first, we are talking about rewarding teachers judged on their own skills and competencies by appraisal, not rewarding them on the achievements or otherwise of the pupils. That is a very important difference; secondly, that there are opportunities for all teachers; and, thirdly, that it is expected that the majority of teachers will benefit from these proposals.
I also welcome the fact that the Green Paper deals with the issue of classroom assistants. They are a great strength in many schools. My wife works in a primary school and I know it is particularly true in that case. I am pleased that we are not leaving them out and are not looking simply at the top of the profession but also at the essential support that they receive.
I can understand how these proposals will help with the retention of teachers. It is of vital importance to address that issue. Quite apart from my son's decision this week, I have a little more concern about how it will help with recruitment. It will take some years for teachers to reach the threshold. Since this is a consultation document, will the Government consider reducing the period before the threshold? I welcome the proposals, as far as I have understood them, for undergraduates to do some teaching, but are the Government considering paying trainee teachers? The proposals of my party--this is not purely self-interest--are that student teachers should be paid 50 per cent. of the rate. We need measures of that kind to attract people into the profession. It is important that they see how they can progress throughout their career. When one is in one's early 20s, considering where one may be in one's 40s or 50s is perhaps not as important as it should be, certainly not as important as worrying where one will be in one's later 20s and 30s when one is thinking of setting up home.
I turn next to funding. The Minister will be aware that I have a particular interest in that I am the leader of an LEA. Yesterday we had the revenue support grant settlement and today all of my colleagues in local government are trying to understand exactly what that means for their local authorities. I am particularly concerned to have confirmation that money will be available to meet the extra cost of these proposals. I should also like to know how that extra money is to reach schools. Will it come through the SSA system and the LEAs? I suspect that at least initially it will come to schools via some other route. But if we are to build these quite proper expectations, it is important to have the cash available where it is needed to meet them.
If and when the money has reached the schools, how will it reach the teachers? Schools are funded on average not actual salaries. If one increases actual salaries for a number of successful teachers, it does not necessarily follow that they will get the additional money. Clearly, it is the Government's intention that they should do so. I should like to know what delivery mechanism is to be used to achieve that.
These are important measures for the medium and long-term and we support them. But an immediate crisis needs to be addressed. I too turn to the impending pay settlement which I believe is due next month. I understand that the Minister does not wish to pre-empt anything that may be recommended by the review board. However, it would be extremely encouraging to the profession if the noble Baroness could at least give a commitment at this stage that the pay award, whatever it turns out to be, will not be phased. The teaching profession has suffered in recent years from phased pay awards. It would be extremely disappointed, to put it no stronger, if there were yet another phased pay award. A commitment from the Minister on that matter would be very welcome.
As I said, we will certainly give a welcome to the broad thrust of this Green Paper. I hope that the teacher unions will also do so. I am sure that when they come to consider the detail they will have many questions and there may well be proposals with which they are not
Lastly, I hope that the Government will listen to what is being said to them. I learnt during the various proposals for a London government that the London Green Paper had within it various shades of green. One shade of green meant that it was not really for consultation, but other shades of green meant that the Government were open to proposals and were listening. This paper is a very bright shade of green, and I hope that means that the Government will listen to constructive proposals that are put as to how best to tackle this most important issue. If the Government do that, I am confident that we shall at least begin to redress the very serious imbalance that exists within the teaching profession at the moment.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, perhaps I may begin by saying that I am sorry the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, did not feel she had had quite enough time to look at the Green Paper. It was our intention to get the paper out a little earlier in order to give Opposition spokesmen some time. However, I hope that in taking the Statement at the time we did the noble Baroness had at least an opportunity to look at it.
The noble Baroness asked a great many questions. I am not sure that I am going to be able to pick up all of them in the time available, but if I have to miss any I will of course write to her about them. I was grateful for the welcome that she gave to at least one or two of the proposals put forward. I am also grateful for the more general welcome given by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, to what I believe are radical proposals which are genuinely intended to try to reward our teachers better, to raise their status and to improve both recruitment and retention.
The noble Baroness began by asking questions-- I think the noble Lord, Lord Tope, also mentioned this topic--about the pay review body. The noble Baroness said that she would not expect the Government to anticipate what is going to be said, and obviously at this point we cannot make a commitment to accept all the recommendations--no government would ever do so--until we have seen them. We do not know what they are going to be. I say to the noble Baroness and to the noble Lord that the Secretary of State has made clear that the pay settlement must be affordable. Again, I think the noble Baroness would expect any Secretary of State to do that. We do have a proper pay policy for the public sector; but he has also said--and this may reassure the noble Lord, Lord Tope--that he would not want to stage it.
The noble Baroness asked about the costs of the programme in the proposals that are set out in the Green Paper. I would say to her that of course we want to resource these proposals properly. We will be putting
The noble Baroness was also concerned about the timescales. The intention is that we should introduce these proposals from the autumn of the year 2000, although one or two proposals, such as those relating to the highly skilled advanced teachers, are already en route. Indeed, we have already appointed the first of the advanced school teachers and we will be building up their numbers over the next two years.
The noble Baroness asked whether head teachers who were not necessarily working in the schools which they had managed to turn around would also be eligible for much higher salaries. The answer to that is yes, of course. If a head teacher is doing a superb job in a school, particularly if it is in a difficult area, whether it needs to be turned around or not, he or she will be eligible for a substantially higher salary.
The noble Baroness also asked who will benefit more--a good teacher in a bad school or a bad teacher in a good school? Those who are drawing up the criteria for the bonus scheme will need to consider that kind of issue and they also need to consider the extent to which different members of a school which is awarded bonuses will actually benefit from those bonuses. Additional pay will not automatically be allocated to every teacher in such a school, regardless of how good or bad he or she might be.
The noble Baroness asked whether all teachers reaching the threshold standard will qualify. The answer to that is yes, they will all qualify and they will all be assessed against the national standard. She also asked about the timing of progress beyond the threshold. We will try to assess and appraise every teacher who has got beyond the threshold as soon as they pass it; so we shall be progressing very large numbers of teachers through this scheme once it is implemented.
The noble Baroness also asked when the national leadership college will be set up and how much funding it will receive. I can say that it will be established in the year 2000. We will publish a prospectus for it early next year and we have set aside £10 million to support its establishment in the first instance.
Turning to the question of whether teachers in training who fail the tests for literacy, numeracy and IT will be allowed to teach, I am sure that the noble Baroness and indeed every Member of your Lordships' House would not expect us to allow a teacher into a classroom who cannot pass these tests. They will have to go back and take further training and improve their basic skills in order to join a school and, if I might put it in this way, be let loose on children.
The noble Baroness also asked for details of the fast track. We shall be publishing a separate consultation document about that in March of next year. We see the fast track as a very important way of encouraging more talented and able young people, and indeed older people, to come into the teaching profession.
The noble Baroness asked whether we would be expecting teachers to contribute to individual learning accounts over and above any government funding. The answer to that question is yes. The whole idea of an individual learning account, which is central to the Government's policies on life-long learning, is that the account should be a partnership between the individual himself or herself, the employer and/or the Government. I believe that that is right. We want people to invest in their own learning, whether they are school teachers or people working in any part of the private or public sectors. Also, on the question of whether we think teachers should spend some time upgrading their skills in their own time, the answer again is a categorical yes to that. Just as many other professions put aside some of their leisure time for self-improvement, we hope that teachers would be willing to use a little of their holidays when they are not actually working in the school for that purpose. I believe that many of them will recognise the value of doing so.
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