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As the right reverend Prelate said, there should be no difference in this regard between those who are at
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Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, I do not need to repeat the excellent points made by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, who spoke even more eloquently on this matter than they did in Committee. I also pay tribute to the work that has evidently gone on behind the scenes in the creation of these amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and the right reverend Prelate proposed two amendments that offer two alternative methods of achieving wider and better provision of spiritual guidance in FE colleges.
As I am sure the Minister will agree, their arguments are irresistible. Surely he will acknowledge that it is at best odd, and at worst inconsistent, that one 16 year-old should be entitled to pastoral care or spiritual care and guidance while another is deprived of it purely by virtue of the educational establishment that they attend.
This issue is so important to the general well-being of students, and to the contribution of FE colleges to their wider communities. I have great sympathy with the difficulties that the right reverend Prelate encountered in Committee. It seems that the Bill has been drawn so narrowly as to preclude the inclusion of a substantive amendment to encourage the adoption of either spiritual, moral and cultural guidance as proposed by the right reverend Prelate, or pastoral care as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. I shall be very interested to read the Ecumenical Agencys report later in the year. Can the Minister assure noble Lords that he will take its recommendations into account and that he will communicate to it whether he intends to introduce policy following the report?
Amendment No. 49 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, makes for familiar reading, as she said. I recall reading in the Official Report that, during the passage of the education Bill last summer, the Government accepted amendments tabled by the Liberal Democrats that placed a duty on governing bodies to promote well-being. The terms of this amendment cover similar ground but add to that duty a duty to promote community cohesion. I warmly support the principle behind the noble Baronesss amendment; nobody can disagree with the importance of promoting well-being and community cohesion. I hope that other noble Lords will agree with me that no further education college would not promote well-being and community cohesion. Amendment No. 49 raises an important issue, for which I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, but I believe that this is a matter of social responsibility and should not be a statutory requirement. We are concerned that the law as it applies to children might be invoked with respect to
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Lord Dearing: My Lords, it seems very strange that there should be a duty for 16 to 19 year-olds in one part of the education firmament and not a matching one elsewhere. It simply does not stand up. The argument of logic is very powerful and I cannot see any grounds to dissent from what has been said. I hope that the Government will respond positively to this, especially as it has such wide support in the House and outside the House in the humanist community. We are not debating faith, which sometimes divides us; this is something that unites us. It is in the interests of all young people that they should receive this nourishment.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, I will deal first with the spiritual, moral, cultural and social needs, quite rightly highlighted by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester. I entirely agree with him that it is wrong to conceive of further education as purely a matter of technical and practical skills. We made clear in last years further education White Paper that education and training for community development and personal fulfilment have an important place. The White Paper states that,
We also recognise that many students want their faith or spiritual needs recognised, and that many colleges already provide a range of facilities to meet their students spiritual needs, including multi-faith chaplaincy services and prayer rooms. Indeed, under Section 44 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, there is already a statutory duty on further education colleges, in respect of 16 to 19 year-olds, to ensure that an act of worship is held at least once a week.
We do not think that imposing a wide-ranging duty on the Learning and Skills Council, changing its remit, is the way forward for the reasons I set out in Grand Committee. I hope I can indicate our commitment to strengthening provision in this area in ways that the right reverend Prelate will welcome. In particular, Clause 7 of the Bill provides that the Learning and Skills Council must have regard to guidance from the Secretary of State on consulting with employers, learners and potential learners. The draft of this guidance, which I have made available to noble Lords, specifically recognises that,
I reiterate the undertaking I gave in Grand Committee to study carefully the review of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural needs of students in further education, being carried out by the National Ecumenical Agency in Further Education, of which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London is patron. We look forward to the recommendations of the agency in April. Once this review has been reported in the spring, we will consider whether there is a need for further national initiatives or policy. Following the lead of the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, I undertake that the Minister for Further and Higher Education will be glad to meet the right reverend Prelate and any other noble Lords who wish to join that meeting to discuss the report and initiatives that it would be sensible to take forward in light of it.
I hope that, while I have not been able to satisfy the right reverend Prelate entirely, I have at least been able to move some way in his direction, on the basis of our shared concern to see these issues taken seriously in further education, and not simply regarded as the preserve of schools and institutions dealing with younger people.
On Amendment No. 14, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and Amendment No. 49, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, I agree strongly with them that there is a need for robust systems to ensure the well-being of students, promote community cohesion and ensure that all young people have access to appropriate pastoral care. Let me set out some of our provisions in this regard. First, it is a requirement that where 14 to 16 year-old pupils who are registered with a school spend part of their time in a further education college, they remain pupils of the school. That school, therefore, has a duty to promote their well-being. Amendment No. 49, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, seeks to place duties on FE colleges that mirror existing duties on schools. These are not needed.
Colleges, through the work of their student support services, tutorial work and enrichment work activities, are constantly engaged in promoting the well-being of young people. That is underpinned by Section 175 of the Education Act 2002, which requires governing bodies of further education colleges in England and Wales to ensure that they exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their younger students.
Colleges are held to account for their performance in both these areas through the inspection arrangements. The common inspection framework in England has a range of relevant evaluation questions, including the extent to which the college is educationally and socially inclusive and the effectiveness of its links with other organisations, including organisations concerned with the care and welfare of children, in promoting the well-being of
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The common inspection framework in Wales requires similar evidence of the work of colleges in relation to their learners and their inter-relationship with local communities. It specifically asks how well the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community and how well learners are cared for, guided and supported; but these judgments will necessarily be dependent on the context of the college. Colleges where the majority of learners are adults, for example, will have very different arrangements from those where the majority of students are 16 to 19 year-olds. It is increasingly the practice in colleges that there are self-contained sixth-form centres for students under 19, not least to ensure that better and more focused pastoral arrangements are in place.
As the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, has rightly observed, a small number of children of compulsory school age are, for a wide variety of reasons, not registered with a school. Some of those are enrolled on a full-time basis in a further education college. All 13 to 19 year-olds in England, whether they are registered with a school, with a further education college or with neither, are covered by provisions in Section 6 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, which places a duty on local authorities in England to secure access for young persons in their area to sufficient educational and recreational leisure-time activities which are for the improvement of their well-being. Well-being, under that section of the Act, relates to the five Every Child Matters outcomes and the educational activities must include those that are for the improvement of the young peoples personal and social development.
Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 is also relevant. It imposes a duty on each childrens services authority in England to make arrangements to promote co-operation between the authority and each of its relevant partners. The Learning and Skills Council is listed as a relevant partner, being the strategic commissioner of post-16 provision. The National Assembly for Wales is also listed as a relevant partner in relation to children's services authorities in Wales. Once the new First Minister is appointed in Wales in May 2007, these functions will transfer to Welsh Ministers.
However, we propose to go further still. The White Paper, Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances, published last March, stated that FE college governing bodies should consider how their pastoral arrangements should best reflect the characteristics of their student body of all age ranges. Taking this commitment forward, we are currently developing pilots which will test and evaluate different approaches to pastoral support. The pilots will include a particular focus on children and young
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The evaluation of these pilots will be built into guidance for providers by April 2008. I will keep noble Lords informed of their progress and my honourable friend, the Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education will be glad to discuss the outcome of those pilots with noble Lords before we develop that guidance for providers. So I hope that I have gone some way towards meeting the concerns that have been raised.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, I should stress that the common inspection framework in England to which I referred also includes holding colleges to account for their work in supporting community cohesion. I am informed that that includes activities such as hosting faith awareness weeks, which meets the point raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester. The Government encourage and support these activities. For example, we work with the Association of Colleges in England and others to ensure that colleges have good guidance on effective practice in community cohesion work. As I said, they are then inspected against that.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, the noble Lord raises an important point. He is right that there is now a light-touch inspection regime, but all institutions are still visited on a regular cycle. That varies depending on the type of institution but it is about once every three years. The point that I think the noble Lord was getting at is that the depth of that inspection is now in inverse proportion to success. Successfully managed institutions whose self-evaluation is positive and held to be accurate by inspections will not receive one of the old-style inspections that included large numbers of inspectors sitting at the back of classes. However, institutions that demonstrate weaknesses in their self-evaluation or whose leadership and management is not found to be satisfactory by inspectors and that includes pastoral support of pupilswill be subject to a more in-depth inspection and can be issued with a notice to improve or, in extremis, be placed in special measures, which requires a radical improvement plan to be put in place. The inspection arrangements are still robust in meeting the noble Lords concerns.
Lord Northbourne: My Lords, that is very helpful; I am grateful to the noble Lord. I want to apologise to the right reverend Prelate. I promised him before the debate that I would support him, but I was so excited
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The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, referred to the possibility that pastoral care should be the business of the colleges. I wholly agree, but the Learning and Skills Council provides the money for these things. If the issue is not in the Bill or in some other way officially endorsed, the LSC perhaps could be accused of misusing its funds if it provided an extra teacher or person to carry out personal and social care, for example. The guidance that the noble Lord said he had sent has not yet drifted down to the Cross Benches.
The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, I deeply appreciate the noble Lords warm support and that of other noble Lords, including, most particularly, the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton. I would have loved to have had the warmly enthusiastic and immediate acceptance of my amendment by the Minister, but I have been reassured by what he has said; I appreciate that.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 17, 18, 47 and 48. I am glad to say that this is another example of the Government listening carefully to the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and producing amendments to match. She has some of the Midas touch of my noble friend Lady Turner. When we come to Clause 19 the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, can also take a good deal of credit for changing the Governments view on the Bill.
In Grand Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, proposed that guidance to the Learning and Skills Council about consultation with learners, potential learners and employers should also cover consultation with other bodies to be nominated by the Secretary of State. I undertook to consider the points raised further. I and my honourable friend the Minister for Further and Higher Education are now persuaded that the legislation should cover consultation with learners, employers and other persons nominated by the Secretary of State. Amendment No. 17 reflects that change.
The LSC already consults a wide range of partner bodies about the exercise of its provision and funding duties in relation to learners. We acknowledge that, and of course expect it to continue. By proposing the
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Amendment No. 17 will allow us to specify in guidance organisations that the LSC should consider consulting. That will include partner bodies and other organisations that we may specify. Specifying organisations in guidance will maintain flexibility and allow us to respond to changing circumstances in the FE system without the need to amend legislation.
A draft of the statutory guidance, which this clause proposes that the LSC must have regard to in consulting employers, learners and other organisations and partners, has been made available to the House. The guidance will remain under review and would be updated to reflect any change to the duty placed on the LSC by Clause 7. However, since it already covers consultation with the LSC's partner organisations, we have no immediate plans to extend the categories of persons whom the guidance recommends that the LSC should consult.
Amendments Nos. 16, 18, 47 and 48 make minor, technical changes to Clauses 7 and 21. Amendments Nos. 16 and 47 make it clear that there might be consultation, by the LSC or by governing bodies of FE institutions, with one or more of the categories of consultees named in guidance, and that such consultation will be on decisions that specifically affect that group or person.
Clause 7 requires that guidance from the Secretary of State to the LSC specify that the views of a person being consulted are to be considered in light of their age and understanding. Clause 21 contains a similar requirement in relation to guidance to governing bodies of FE institutions from the appropriate authoritythe Secretary of State for institutions in England, and the Welsh Ministers for institutions in Wales. Amendments Nos. 18 and 48 ensure that those requirements relate only to consultation with learners and potential learners. I beg to move.
Clause 7 , page 7, line 3, leave out from section to to in line 4 and insert about consultation with persons falling within paragraph (a) of subsection (1) must provide for the views of such a person
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