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Division No. 5

CONTENTS

Blatch, B.
Cox, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Fookes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Hanham, B.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Howe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kingsland, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Renton, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selborne, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Strathclyde, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B. [Teller]
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crawley, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Geraint, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Grenfell, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Islwyn, L.
Judd, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Parekh, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Richard, L.
Rix, L.
Sewel, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Wigoder, L.
Wilkins, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

20 Feb 2001 : Column 698

9.35 p.m.

Clause 5 [Unopposed appeals]:

[Amendment No. 42 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 43:


    Page 5, line 20, leave out ("withdrawn") and insert ("granted to the parent").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, when we discussed this amendment previously, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, and I agreed at least on one point: that we were dancing on the head of a pin. Unfortunately, there were no angels on the head of that pin and, in spite of our temporary agreement, the issue is more than merely academic.

The parents and the LEA have a dispute which goes to the tribunal for resolution. The parents have made their appeal against the LEA's decision, whatever that was. There is now an appeal in existence and it is before the tribunal. Before the appeal is resolved one way or the other by the tribunal, the LEA concedes the parents' wishes. In any commonsense use of the word, the parents' appeal has been granted to them and they have won the argument. The appeal has not been withdrawn by the parents; it has not been withdrawn by the LEA; it has not been withdrawn by the tribunal. It has been won by the parents; or, to use more legislative language, it has been granted to the parents--granted in fact by the LEA, but granted nevertheless. This is not merely a matter of semantics. It is important for a family to know that when they took their case to appeal they came away successful. The fact that the LEA has had to concede before the matter goes any further seems to be masked.

If the appeal is to be treated as having been withdrawn, as the clause would have it, that might mean that the LEA would no longer oppose the parents. But it does not necessarily mean that. If, on the other hand, it is to be treated as having been granted to the parents, it certainly will mean that the

20 Feb 2001 : Column 699

LEA can no longer oppose the parents. The noble Baroness said nothing in Committee which alters the need for the amendment. Therefore, I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I support my noble friend's amendment. I prefer her wording.

Lord Rix: My Lords, I, too, support the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. There is very good reason for parents to be totally confused by the present wording. I hope that if the noble Baroness's amendment cannot be accepted, the Minister will come back with suitable wording at Third Reading.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the amendment deals with the treatment and classification of appeal cases which are withdrawn because the LEA decides not to oppose the appeal. The amendment would treat these types of cases as decisions upheld in favour of the parent.

The clause already provides for the LEA to meet the parents' wishes within a period to be set out in regulations, when the LEA has conceded the parents' case. However, I shall not claim the status of an angel. We recognise that this may not be immediately obvious from the way the clause is drafted. We shall, therefore, consider how the clause might be amended to make this more obvious and introduce an amendment at Third Reading. The effect would be to make clear that where LEAs do not oppose a parent's case, this is to be treated as the appeal having been resolved in the parent's favour. The amendment will also make it clear that in such cases the tribunal will not have to make an order to this effect, thus avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I do not know whether that reply was a result of the intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Rix. At least the Government can save face and say that they have been persuaded by him rather than by me. I am grateful for the Minister's response.

I do not know whether I heard the Minister correctly--I believe I did, and a nod will suffice. Did she say that the amendment will make it clear that the case was resolved in the parents' favour? The noble Baroness nods. Then I am entirely satisfied with her response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 44:


    Before Clause 7, insert the following new clause--

OBJECTIVES CONCERNING ACADEMIC PROGRESS

(" . The code of practice shall require that all pupils with special educational needs, with statements and without, shall be set clear objectives concerning academic progress, including progress in reading, against which the provision specified or provided shall be monitored and reviewed.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is an amendment about which I feel very strongly. I have always believed that, from wherever a child starts and

20 Feb 2001 : Column 700

however profound the learning difficulties are, making progress is at least one of the primary aims of education. I gave some moving examples of an experience I had when I visited a special school in the North East where the staff believe that all children, from whatever basis they start, make progress and that such progress should be recognised, should be recorded, and should be systematic.

But it is also the case that many young people--particularly as part of this Bill deals with people with physical disabilities, as well as the part which deals with young people with mental disabilities and learning difficulties--can make enormous progress academically in school. If it is right that all young people in mainstream schooling without special needs should have records of achievement, of progress, aims and objectives, targets set and clear objectives in making academic progress, as well as the other progress one would record--noble Lords may refer to Hansard in Committee for examples; I shall not labour them tonight as the hour is late--it must be right that young people with SEN should also have that progress and so forth recorded.

This is an important point. The aims, the objectives, the targets and the progress made should be measured against provision specified or provided, and that progress should be monitored and reviewed. We owe it to all young people, from whatever basis they start, to do that. Making progress is important to them; it is one of the primary aims of education. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I entirely support my noble friend. I add that if there is such a system--there should be such a system for all pupils--in order to make it work properly it is essential that there should be national standards against which progress can be compared. That is difficult to achieve with special educational needs. It will take some research. But if we do not have standards against which to compare progress, it is possible to lower our expectations to the point where they are easy to achieve.

It is one of the great things that has been achieved in value-added measurements in examinations as a whole--the great efforts made by Durham University, as it is now, with ALIS, MidYIS and YELLIS--to produce national standards against which value-added can be measured. We need to do the same thing with special needs if we are to make a valid system of comparators to judge the sort of process which my noble friend is advocating.


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