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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 writingsome of them were quite detailed. For today's purposes, I thank the House for the debate and I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
"ANNUAL PARENTS' MEETING
(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 signallingI thought very clearlybefore 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.
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
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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.
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 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 futureparents 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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