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Earl Russell: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to a lot of good answers that I have been given, but might I play Winnie-the-Pooh and be greedy? Can the Minister tell us how the four-year provision will be monitored?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I can. Under the 1999 regulations, work permit and visa requirements provide an enforcement mechanism. As I understand it, that has worked well, and there is no reason to suspect that it should not continue to do so. They have been very effective.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Earl has raised a serious point. During the four-year period, that person is not a qualified teacher as recognised in this country. Therefore, we are not simply referring to someone who is working towards a qualification in those four years being a teaching assistant in school. We are referring to someone who is acting as a supervisor, is responsible for assistants and is teaching whole classes, planning, preparing, teaching and assessing the development and attainment of children in schools. Those people are in the position that qualified teachers should be in.

There is a whole list in Schedule 2 of people who are unqualified—even a graduate teacher with no teaching qualifications at all is in that position, as are people working towards a qualified teacher status, who have very little experience at all. Those people are in a

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position of supervising someone in the classroom who looks to them as fully qualified professionals. The Minister so far has no answer to that at all.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I believed that I was answering rather well.

Let me give the noble Baroness an example. I described my Portuguese teaching assistant coming into school. Let us say that a very well qualified teacher from another country, but one who is not yet recognised, is working in a school. That teacher might be in charge of some of the languages being taught in a primary school, and would have a classroom assistant available to come in and teach a class a particular language. It would be entirely consistent to ensure that those people were working very closely, that that teacher had supervision over what was being taught in the classroom, because he or she was the language teacher who would normally be teaching that class, and that the supervision was appropriate. I go back to the point that I have made several times. All that would happen under the direction of the head teacher, who makes the decisions about how that is done.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, referred to assessments. I agree with her that a piece of course work that was to be assessed would clearly be in the province of a qualified teacher. However, if it were a set of multiple choice questions, it would be quite possible for a teaching assistant to mark it.

We are trying to recognise the reality of many schools today. Noble Lords will know from their visits to schools that there is a team approach to the delivery of education for our children. At the pinnacle of that team is the professional teacher, and available to that teacher is a range of different support, providing either expertise—in new technology, languages or music, for example—or the kind of support that classroom assistants have been given for some time.

As I said before in discussing the Education Bill, for the first time we have the regulations that will enable us to ensure that those people are well supervised, are not exploited and have the opportunities to which noble Lords have referred to get their qualifications and have the chance, if they wish, to move on to take further qualifications.

It is worth saying a little more about what we are trying to achieve in the whole area of the nominated teacher, so that the noble Baroness in particular understands it. We had a wide consultation process on the regulations. We discussed the issue at length with the signatories to the national agreement on raising standards and tackling workload; that is, with all the school workforce unions except the NUT, and with the local government employers. They all agreed that the "nominated teacher" approach was entirely appropriate.

In other words, it would help schools if they could use their instructors and certain categories of unqualified teachers—as I said, overseas trained teachers—in a way that enables them to deliver to their teachers the benefits of the national agreement. In fact,

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the groups of teachers covered by the "nominated teacher" definition will all benefit from the changes to the teachers' contract which will be introduced as a result of the national agreement. It includes, for example, a limit on the amount of time they can be required to cover for absent colleagues and a guarantee of 10 per cent of their timetabled teaching time to undertake planning, preparation and assessment. Noble Lords have said time and again that they would like to see such arrangements as a means of lightening teachers' burden of other work and allowing them to focus on the professional job that we want them to undertake.

We have good examples of the role of instructors and the support they have given. I believe that these regulations help to clarify the role of teachers and school support staff. I believe that they do what the noble Baroness said that she wanted to do—give greater professional freedom to head teachers, which is particularly important. It is not about cheap substitutes or shortages or about trying to find a cheap, easy fix for other issues. We are saying that the reality of our schools and of so many other aspects of our public sector world and indeed of our lives in general is about people working together, using different skills and experiences to provide high-quality support. I think that noble Lords should consider these regulations in the light of that critical factor and consider the way in which we are trying to provide flexibility and certainty.

We believe that these regulations will help to move forward our schools—to deliver higher standards, to ensure that we have professionalism and to support all those working in schools as effectively as possible. We have ensured that we have brought on board all but one of the key professional bodies involved in this. Those who have agreed to the national agreement are raising standards and tackling workload. Critically, the agreement has received the commitment of head teacher associations, local government employers, the support staff unions and three of the four teacher unions. The agreement has also been endorsed by the TUC. I am sad that the NUT is outside this. It is a pity that it wants the benefits but accepts none of the responsibilities. I am, however, very clear that these regulations will be an added plank in our drive to help schools raise standards and support all those working in schools. I hope that your Lordships will support them.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, there is a huge gap in our understanding of what these regulations mean. I have read these words in the regulations over and over, but looked in vain for many of the points that the noble Baroness made. I do not doubt the Government's motives and I certainly do not doubt the noble Baroness's word about what she wants the regulations to achieve. However, we have to consider the words on a page which are legally binding.

The noble Baroness started by saying that the regulations help to clarify what the Government intended. The reason I am here is that they provide no clarification whatever. She went on to say that they

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preserve the role and status of qualified teachers. I am here because of the great uncertainty surrounding the role and status of qualified teachers. We are not discussing a stop-gap measure or cover for sickness; we are talking about whole-class teaching for periods of up to two years and beyond, subject to the decision of the Secretary of State. We are talking about the preparation, the teaching and the assessment.

The noble Baroness said that the regulations introduce new safeguards. I asked her to specify the location of those safeguards. They simply are not here, neither for the assistant nor for the qualified teachers themselves. She said that the circumstances in which they could be used were not prescribed before but are prescribed now. I have looked in vain for the prescription. However, they used to be prescribed. Previously, if any head teacher operated outside those prescribed conditions, the use of an assistant teacher would be deemed illegal.

The noble Baroness said that the guidelines provide a clearer legal framework. No, they do not. Guidelines do not provide legal frameworks at all; guidelines explain the legalese of the regulations and the primary legislation.

The noble Baroness said that the assistants must support the work of a teacher. However, that teacher is not necessarily a qualified teacher. That teacher can be barely off the ground in training. The noble Baroness said that assistants would be directly supervised by a teacher. They will neither be directly supervised, as has been admitted by the noble Baroness, nor will they be physically supervised as the teacher, as I said, does not necessarily have to be in the classroom or even in the school. As I also said, there is no limit on how many assistants one single teacher, either qualified or unqualified, can be responsible for.

The noble Baroness said that Regulation 6 describes all the conditions under which assistants can be used. In fact, Regulation 6 spells out the job of a teacher. I specifically asked—the noble Earl asked this in a very different way—what there was over and above what is contained in Regulation 6 that a qualified teacher does that is different from the teacher who is expected to carry out—


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