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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am a little puzzled by what the noble Baroness said. Her amendment relates to Clause 7, but we are going into great detail about Clause 6. Clause 6 relates to funds going to LEAs not to schools, so it is not pertinent to sixth forms. It is about LEAs.

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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, can the noble Baroness tell me why Clause 7(2) states:

    "A grant made under this section may be made on conditions in addition to the condition mentioned in subsection (1)(a) (including conditions of a kind which could be imposed under section 6)"?

I have read Clause 6, which appears on the previous page. It is not my doing; the Government referred to "section 6" in Clause 7.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, unlike the provision to which Clause 6 refers, the council needs a specific power to give funds to the LEA, because the LEA is not itself a provider. I believed that I had explained that we want to have consistency of funding across the whole of 16 to 19 education, and that is what this is all about. However, perhaps I can give the reassurance that I believe the noble Baroness wants. We shall not require schools to provide a great deal of additional information over and above what they already provide. However, it is important that the LSC can obtain from LEAs the information that it needs. It needs those powers in order to ensure that funds are properly spent.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, that was no answer. Again, the noble Baroness criticised me harshly for invoking Clause 6. Clause 6 is itself invoked in the paragraph to which I referred and which I wish to delete and replace with another paragraph. The noble Baroness gave not one single reference in Clause 6 as to what would be pertinent to the funding of sixth forms. The information which sixth forms are being asked to provide is all publicly available. I myself could probably provide it for most sixth forms in the land because, as I said, all the information, such as numbers of teachers and pupils, how many pupils there are in a class, how many groups there are and what subjects are being taught, is all publicly available. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 44 not moved.]

Clause 8 [Links between education and training and employment]:

Baroness Sharp of Guildford moved Amendment No. 45:

    Page 5, line 19, after ("of") insert ("appropriate").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 45, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 46. These two amendments relate to Clause 8 and apply to work experience. However, they pick up earlier discussions that we have had this evening about what is and is not appropriate and about the need for discretion in relation to age limitations. I do not wish to go over those points again.

However, in relation to the word "appropriate", I wish to stress once again the importance of proper guidance in these matters. Work experience is often seminal in the choice of careers; to put it bluntly, "any old work experience" will not do. It can be vital in helping young people to decide upon careers, whether

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for or against a particular career. I have known several young ladies who were besotted with the idea of studying veterinary science until they had work experience with a vet. Then they decided against it. Equally, having had a two-week session of work experience in the subject, my own daughter decided to study electronic engineering and subsequently went on to gain a first-class degree. Therefore, when appropriate, work experience can be extraordinarily valuable. However, inappropriate work experience can leave nothing but negative feelings which, in a sense, can be disastrous.

I believe that it is important to have the appropriate back-up facilities for work experience arrangements. Again, the Careers Service currently plays an important part in ensuring that appropriate work experience is available and in advising young people on the options available. Underlying this amendment are the same concerns that I expressed earlier regarding the degree to which the Careers Service will in future be available only to those who present problems rather than to mainstream young people with respectable GCSE results. By putting the word "appropriate" on the face of the Bill, we ensure that all the aspirations of the Minister will be met.

I shall speak briefly about Amendment No. 46. In Committee the Minister stressed that this clause related only to young people in school and of school age through such organisations as educational business partnerships. She stressed the degree to which further education establishments are already linked to the worlds of work and learning and believed that the work experience arrangements mentioned in Clause 8 were therefore unnecessary and did not apply. Nevertheless, there are occasions when such arrangements may be valuable. In Committee we discussed the needs of those with learning and other disabilities and how they might be catered for separately under Clause 13. I stress again the needs of those who slip out of mainstream education when younger and return to it in their early twenties. This clause simply allows for a degree of flexibility and discretion in its interpretation. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, as I said in Committee, I am afraid that I do not believe that Amendment No. 45 is necessary. It would be unreasonable for LSCs to secure inappropriate work experience opportunities for young people. That much is implicit within the provision as it stands. Statutory bodies must act reasonably. It really is as simple as that.

I move on to Amendment No. 46. I see no reason for Clause 8 to provide for those over the age of 19. Our intention in this clause as drafted is to maintain and develop existing initiatives designed to support young people's learning, to give them an insight into the world of work and to help them to inform their career choices. It is explicitly for young people of school age.

Such arrangements are already available for those over 19 in FE and for those undertaking training, where contact with employers and business is automatically an integral part of the course.

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Employers, schools and organisations like Education Business Partnerships have worked closely over a number of years to ensure that a range of such activities is available locally to students. We are extremely keen to continue supporting young people through education business link activities. I hope, therefore, that the noble Baroness will not press the amendment.

Connexions, which will include careers advice, will be available in any event--and we shall return to that tomorrow--for all 13 to 19 year-olds and it will offer advice including, if appropriate, advice relevant to work experience.

9.15 p.m.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply. I cannot say that I am surprised by it. As she says, we shall return tomorrow to the issues of appropriateness and the Connexions service and we shall have some lengthy discussion on that at that point. It seems more appropriate for us to discuss it then. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 46 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 47:

    After Clause 11, insert the following new clause--


(" . The Council may only exercise the power conferred by section 11 in a case where it has reasonable cause to believe that the governing body of an institution is managing the affairs of the institution or discharging any duty imposed on them by or for the purposes of the Education Acts or this Act in a way which is having, or is likely to have, an adverse effect on--
(a) the quality of education or training provided by the institution, or
(b) the proper use of public funds under the administration of the institution.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 98. Those amendments are grouped with Amendments Nos. 84 to 86 and 102 to 104. I shall speak briefly to my amendments because I know that the Minister has tabled similar amendments. I have looked carefully at the wording of those amendments and I am not entirely happy with the wording of them.

It is important--and now the Government have realised that it is important--to have triggering mechanisms and good reason for acting against an institution where there is reason to believe that either something is going wrong in the management or provision of education in the institution or there is good reason to believe that it is likely to happen.

My amendment refers to,

    "the quality of education or training provided by the institution, or ... the proper use of public funds under the administration of the institution".

Those seem to me to be the sort of reasons which should be established before there is any intervention. I am just a little bothered by the wording of

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Amendment No. 86, which links it with as yet unknown instructions which may be passed down from the Secretary of State. The amendment states,

    "if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the Council ... has failed to discharge a duty imposed by or under any Act, or ... has acted or is proposing to act unreasonably with respect to the exercise of a power conferred or the performance of a duty imposed by or under any Act".

If one reads this Bill--but, of course, it applies to any Act--there are loose powers, powers which can be used in a way which is as yet unstated. One is concerned about what is behind all that.

The important factors in an institution are the quality of the education and training which is being provided and the proper use of the public funds, which is the real concern behind the Government's intention. That is honourable. I support the intention that, where abuse or misuse of funds is taking place, or is thought likely to take place, action should be taken. But I am worried about the wording of Amendment No 86. I prefer to reserve any further comment until I have heard the noble Baroness introduce the Government's amendments.

We support early intervention and the powers being used properly although, sadly, the powers which have been available to the FEFC in the past have not been fully used. That is to be regretted. It is extremely important that the institutions themselves know the conditions under which such action will be taken. I beg to move.

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