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("( ) In subsection (3) of section 19, at end insert--
"(i) the provision of work experience placements to students.".").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment would ensure that disabled students could get work experience by placing a duty on the work experience provider as well as on the educational establishment.It is an issue about which I feel passionate. Work experience is at present a compulsory part of many FE, HE and vocational courses, mainly teaching, nursing and social work. If you do not complete work experience, it may be impossible to pass the course or graduate. The law will require institutions to make reasonable adjustments to work placements for disabled students, but institutions cannot control what happens to a student once they are on another organisation's premises.

Work experience which takes the form of employment will be covered under the DDA but not that which is undertaken on a more informal basis. That is why the amendment is necessary.

The amendment is particularly important because the Dearing Report recommended that all courses should include work experience. We are moving

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towards this with the setting up of the national centre for work experience whose sole job is to promote work experience in HE to universities, employers and students. David Blunkett has spoken on the importance of work experience. Research has shown that it is very important for all students, and it is probably particularly important for disabled students who can assess whether their preferred career is possible for them. They can learn about the job in a practical setting and consider and plan for necessary adjustments and support.

Placement providers are often unwilling to make adjustments for what is often a short time, or they lack understanding. SKILL, of which I am President, has given me an example of a student with a mild hearing impairment and epilepsy. He had had no seizure for four years and embarked on a post-graduate Certificate of Education. His first two teaching placements were successfully completed but in his final placement, the class teacher refused to leave him alone in his unsupervised sessions in the classroom on the ground that "his disabilities made it unsafe for him to be in charge of the class". He failed the course, not having completed the required number of unsupervised teaching hours. Happily, the institution of higher education where he was studying allowed him to repeat the placement the following year, but he is neither eligible for student support nor welfare benefit.

The recognition of the value of work experience is greatly welcome but unless we ensure that disabled students are looked after, we could be opening up a new area of exclusion. I try to avoid words like "disaster" or "tragedy", but it is something which should be avoided at all costs.

I said that I feel passionate about this. I hope that the issue is close to the hearts of the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, and that the response will be positive. I beg to move.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I support the amendment of the noble Baroness As she explained, work experience is an increasing part of student experience and it is very important that it is covered by the provisions of the Bill.

Baroness David: I, too, support the amendment. It is an important matter which we must have cleared up.

Baroness Blackstone: I accept what the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, has said: that work experience is increasingly important in higher education, and indeed, in further education. The Bill covers work experience, but does so indirectly. Perhaps I may explain.

If a student on work experience is in paid employment, then he is already covered by Part II of the DDA as an employee. But whether or not the student on work experience is paid, the institution providing the course is likely still to be providing services caught by the Bill in relation to the work placement, for example, by helping the student to organise the placement or because it set the rules that

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a placement has to be part of a course. Those services will be caught by the very wide definition of services under the Bill, and education providers need to comply with their duties in how they carry out those services. The institution might have to consider helping to find a reasonable alternative placement, or altering a course to remove the requirement for a work placement.

We believe that is preferable to the approach set out in the amendment. A duty on employers in relation to work experience students whom they do not employ would introduce a new layer of complexity that some employers would find burdensome. That might discourage some of them from offering placements and reduce the supply of placements to all students, including those with disabilities. This approach places the responsibility on the institution to work with employers and students to ensure satisfactory experiences for disabled students.

In the light of that, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

7.30 p.m.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: I thank all Members of the Committee who have spoken so briefly but in such strong support, and I thank the Minister for her reply. I am disappointed in it, but I want to go away and read it. As I understand it, the institution provider has an obligation, but the institution is powerless, once the student gets to the workplace, to ensure that it is carried out. I gave the Committee an example of the student whose class teacher did not have confidence in him and wrecked his career.

I will go back and consult SKILL. I hope that the Minister will be willing to talk to me and perhaps a member of SKILL before Report. I will also read carefully what she has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blackstone: moved Amendments Nos. 187 to 189.

    Page 33, line 2, leave out ("Chapter II of").

    Page 33, line 2, at end insert--

("( ) In subsection (1) of section 57 (aiding unlawful acts), for "act made unlawful by this Act" substitute "unlawful act".
( ) After subsection (5) of that section, insert--
"(6) "Unlawful act" means an act made unlawful by any provision of this Act other than a provision contained in Chapter I of Part IV.""). Page 33, line 2, at end insert--

("( ) In that section, after subsection (3), insert--
"(3A) For the purposes of Chapter I of Part IV--
(a) references in subsection (2) to B include references to--
(i) a person who is, for the purposes of that Chapter, B's parent; and
(ii) a sibling of B; and
(b) references in that subsection to this Act are, as respects a person mentioned in sub-paragraph (i) or (ii) of paragraph (a), restricted to that Chapter."").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 37, as amended, agreed to.

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Clause 38 agreed to.

Clause 39 [Duty of Teacher Training Agency]:

Lord Addington moved Amendment No. 190

    Page 33, line 40, at end insert ("and in particular shall have regard to the needs of teachers in initial teacher training to understand and be prepared for the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and of Part IV of the Education Act 1996").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is deceptively simple on the face of it, but teacher training will be key to ensuring that education is inclusive and correct for all those who want it within the system.

The main problem with teacher training--and indeed with the entire education system when it comes to special educational needs and dealing with disabilities--is that the training tends to be after graduation and is work experience-based. Teachers do not receive SEN training until they are already qualified.

That is patently absurd on two grounds. The first is that we are now encouraging far greater inclusion. A teacher would expect to deal with students who have special educational needs or disabilities as a normal part of their professional experience. Providing initial training will mean that they are able to deal with it from the word go. That is surely sensible.

The other problem is that if every member of staff at least has some awareness and some ability to cope with the situation in the classroom, they will get away from the horrible paperchase that I referred to earlier, when they find out that someone has a disability and then wonder what to do. If the teacher knows early on, information on what not to do and where to go for assistance and specialist help can be worked into their entire training process. At least we will save ourselves many problems in the long term. The hidden disabilities are probably the best example of that.

The amendment makes total sense. Without it we will create only a half-full glass. People will still have to chase round and try to spot what is going on and get the right help. We will overload the specialist staff when the less acute problems might be dealt with by merely having some awareness within the classroom. I appreciate that this is calling for quite a radical change in the structure but I suggest that in the long term, this amendment, or something very like it, is the only practical answer. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: I rise to support what the noble Lord, Lord Addington, has said. Early identification is one of the key issues in this matter and the earlier difficulties can be picked up, the earlier intervention can take place. If it does not minimise it, certainly at one extreme it may even eliminate the need for special provision later on. Those of us who are parents all know how adept children are at masking what might be a sight impairment, a hearing impairment or dyslexia. They have all sorts of ways of compensating for what may later become a rather serious disability. It will be much better if, through their training, teachers become more aware of what to look for, how to test and how to pose the right questions. They can then alert the particular professionals who can come in

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to provide the intervention which is needed. The sooner that happens, the better it will be. This is a very fruitful area for tackling some of the very real problems of special needs in our schools.

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