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Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I appreciate and welcome the fact that he has offered to respond to all questions in writing—some of them were quite detailed. For today's purposes, I thank the House for the debate and I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
24 Jan 2005 : Column 1105

Education Bill [HL]

House again in Committee.

Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 145A:

(1) It shall be left to the discretion of the headmaster of each maintained school in England and Wales to decide whether or not to hold an annual parents' meeting.
(2) The headmaster shall decide on the nature, length and style of any meeting which is to be held."

The noble Lord said: We debated the whole issue just before we adjourned. I feel that I should test the feeling of the Committee on the amendment because of the strength of feeling on the whole issue.

Lord Filkin: Before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may make explicitly clear what my noble friend was signalling—I thought very clearly—before we adjourned for dinner. We have had a number of important debates about the role of parents generally in the Bill. We debated their role in inspection and in the governance and accountability of the school, as exhibited through annual reports and other mechanisms.

I am signalling to the Committee very clearly that these are absolutely critical issues. We think the role of parents is fundamental to raising school attainment. I am giving as clear signals as possible that we wish to give very serious reflection and consideration to the points that Members of the Committee have made. The Committee knows what that means; it means that we shall go away and reflect on these issues. It does not guarantee that we will completely transform the issue, but it does signal that we are very serious in reflecting on these issues to see whether we can address the concerns of the Committee.

Lord Hanningfield: I thank the Minister for that comment. He will have heard the strength of feeling from all sides of the Chamber about this issue earlier in the debate. I should still like to test the feeling of the Committee on this amendment, although obviously there could be further amendments later if this one is not successful.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 145A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 30; Not-Contents, 70.

Division No. 1


Alton of Liverpool, L.
Astor, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Byford, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Cox, B.
Dundee, E.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lyell, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Marlesford, L.
Montrose, D.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Northesk, E.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Renton, L.
Saatchi, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Willoughby de Broke, L.


Amos, B. (Lord President of the Council)
Andrews, B.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Billingham, B.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Chandos, V.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dearing, L.
Dixon, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Giddens, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Griffiths of Burry Port, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hattersley, L.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Listowel, E.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Morgan, L.
Pendry, L.
Peston, L.
Radice, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rooker, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Sawyer, L.
Sewel, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Triesman, L.
Truscott, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walpole, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

24 Jan 2005 : Column 1106

Clause 101 [School profiles]:

Baroness Morris of Bolton moved Amendment No. 145B:

The noble Baroness said: Just when I thought I was getting the hang of all this, I realise that I do not understand it at all. These amendments are all about Clause 101, which we debated in the previous group of amendments. I shall not detain the Committee any longer, as we have already had a very thorough debate. I agree with everything that my noble friend Lord Lucas said. The Minister said that the profiles were being trialled. Perhaps I could assist the Government
24 Jan 2005 : Column 1107
with that trial by sending them my questions. If the Minister would be kind enough to answer them, we would be most grateful. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux): Amendment No. 145D is grouped with this amendment. If it is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 146.

Baroness Walmsley: I wish to speak briefly to Amendment No. 146, which is tabled in my name. The clause seems to prevent the governing body providing such information as it may wish as part of its school profile. As drafted, the clause gives the Secretary of State unlimited powers. I would like to add the phrase,

in terms of additional information. It frees up the provision.

In addition, the NSPCC has asked me to ask the Government whether the Minister can give an assurance that they envisage the regulations providing for the inclusion of non-academic-related information in the school profiles; for example, the school's safeguarding and child protection arrangements, its contribution to improving well-being, co-operation with other agencies and development of extended services, where appropriate.

Baroness Andrews: I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for the suggestion. It is an extension of the trial. She will find that many of the questions that she asked in her many amendments on this matter will be answered in the affirmative, because we are making provision already. I shall certainly give her a fuller answer than I can provide today.

Amendment No. 146 would allow the governing bodies to add extra information. We intend to reduce prescription so that schools can reflect aspects other than the important information that they are required to give parents. We are reducing the statutory content, but parents must have a minimum amount of information: that is the role of the profile, and it is what parents want. When we trialled the profile with parents, they really liked it.

We also want schools to provide reliable information about pupil achievement and plans for the future—parents were also keen on that. Within that there will be narrative sections, written by the governing body, which can be tailored. So, for example, they can make a feature of the school's safeguarding arrangements or partnership arrangements. At the same time, we need a basic agreement with schools about what is in them. We must make sure that it is consistent and that schools can, as it were, relate to one another. They would certainly be free to put in a lot of things to show the school off.

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