Skip to main content

School And Further Education Regulations

Volume 978: debated on Tuesday 12 February 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

'(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision—

  • (a) for requiring teachers at schools and further education establishments to which this section applies to possess such qualifications as may be determined by or under the regulations and for requiring such teachers to serve probationary periods;
  • (b) with respect to the teaching staff to be provided in such schools and establishments;
  • (c) for requiring the approval of the Secretary of State to be obtained for the use in such schools and establishments of such materials or apparatus as may be specified in the regulations, being materials or apparatus which could or might involve a serious risk to health;
  • (d) with respect to the keeping, disclosure and transfer of educational records about pupils at such schools and establishments;
  • (e) with respect to the duration of the school day and school year at, and the granting of leave of absence from, any such schools.
  • (2) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for imposing requirements as to the health and physical capacity of—

  • (a) teachers at schools and further education establishments to which this section applies;
  • (b) teachers employed by local education authorities otherwise than at such schools or establishments; and
  • (c) persons employed by local education authorities in work otherwise than as teachers which brings them regularly into contact with persons who have not attained the age of nineteen years.
  • (3) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for prohibiting or restricting the employment or further employment of persons—

  • (a) as teachers at schools and further education establishments to which this section applies;
  • (b) by local education authorities as teachers otherwise than at such schools or establishments; or
  • (c) by local education authorities in such work as is mentioned in subsection (2)(c) above,
  • on medical grounds, in cases of misconduct and, as respects employment or further employment as a teacher, on educational grounds.

    (4) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision requiring his approval to be obtained for the provision of new premises for, or the alteration of the premises of, any school or further education establishment to which this section applies or any boarding hostel provided by a local education authority for pupils attending any such school or establishment and for the inspection of any such hostel.

    (5) In section 71( a) of the Public Health Act 1936 and section 63(2) of the Education Act 1944 (exemption from building regulations etc.)references to plans approved by the Secretary of State shall include references to any particulars submitted to and approved by him under regulations made by virtue of subsection (4) above.

    (6) The Secretary of State may make regulations with respect to the provision of, and the fees to be charged for, courses of further education at further education establishments to which this section applies, including provision for requiring his approval to be obtained for the provision at such establishments of courses designated by or under the regulations as courses of advanced further education and for enabling him to give directions for the discontinuance of any such course at such an establishment or as to the number and categories of students to be admitted to such courses at such establishments.

    (7) This section applies to any school maintained by a local education authority, any special school not so maintained, any further education establishment provided by a local education authority and any further education establishment designated by or under the regulations as an establishment substantially dependent for its maintenance on assistance from local education authorities or on grants under section 100(1)( b) of the said Act of 1944.'.—[ Mr. Mark Carlisle.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    With this we are to lake the following: New clause 13—Records—and Government amendments Nos. 68, 70, 71 and 79.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Owing to the operation of the guillotine, we now have only 10 minutes in which to consider a new clause which was not debated in Committee, and which has massive implications and constitutional precedents. In those circumstances it should not be introduced in this manner in the House of Commons. In the past it has been proper, in this sort of case, for the measure to be introduced anew in another place. Since teachers, institutions or any of the bodies which are normally consulted have not been consulted on the new clause, has there been a request that it might be fully withdrawn from this place, and properly introduced in another place, where it could be considered anew, rather than as a matter which had been improperly considered by this House?

    I have not received a request, and I am bound by the resolution which was passed by the House earlier this afternoon. I have no powers to bury that.

    I say to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) that, whereas I appreciate that at first sight the clause may appear to be formidable, in practice it is not. It is designed merely to provide a statutory basis for the range of powers that I am currently required to exercise by means of subordinate legislation. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall consult the various bodies as to what should be the course of those regulations. The new clause simply lays the basis for them.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to consult before the Second Reading in the House of Lords?

    I cannot promise that, because I do not know if there will be time to do so. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall consult before we lay the regulations.

    There is nothing new in the clause. The existing regulations cover school regulations, further education regulations and the handicapped people's boarding regulations. Regulations of this kind have been in force since the immediate post-war period. They cover such important matters as the qualification of teachers, the probationary training of teachers, the length of the school day and the school year, and the power to take action against teachers on the grounds of their unsuitability due to misconduct. They deal with the use of radioactive materials in schools and colleges, and with the approval of further education courses for the purpose of pooling in polytechnics. These regulations have been made in the past under section 5(2) of the Local Government Act 1974, or its predecessor, which gave a general power enabling the appropriate Minister to make regulations prescribing attendance and general requirements in relation to any function of a local authority. That was an extremely wide power. That provision, along with others, is to be repealed by the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill, which has been read a Second time in the House and is now being discussed in Committee.

    It is therefore necessary to reimplement the existing enabling provisions. The correct place to do so, in so far as the measures relate to education, is in the Bill. In attempting to do that I have set out in detail the sort of matters which the regulations will cover in future. I have decided not to use the wide powers, but to use the more detailed provision which prescribes my powers more strictly, and which has the net effect of reducing the number of regulations by about one-third.

    My intention, as I have said, is that the clause will impose no extra financial or manpower burdens on local authorities, and it is my intention to consult the local authority associations and the main teachers' associations on the content of the regulations to be made under the power.

    I think that it would be more helpful and convenient to the House if, rather than seeking to explain what the various clauses say, I sit down now in case any hon. Member wishes to intervene briefly.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman showed an absolute mastery of euphemism in the way that he managed to cover, in a very short time, the reasons for putting the new clause before us.

    The fact is that the Secretary of State for the Environment made such an absolute hash of his Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill that the Department of Education and Science—the poor benighted, put-upon DES—has been forced to introduce this important new clause, covering as it does a mass of matters of interest and importance in the provision, administration and management of education, at a guillotined Report stage, when I am sure that the DES would have liked to do it at some other time.

    However, this, together with the new proposals that the Secretary of State has at a later stage on transport, and the debate that we have just had on the important new clause on nursery education, led me to believe, when I saw these things last week, that we did not have an Order Paper so much as an Education (No. 3) Bill. I am sure that we could have usefully employed our time on another Committee stage in giving effective scrutiny and providing amendment even to these apparently urbane and unexceptional regulations.

    The fact is that, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman says, the regulations cover the qualifications and probationary requirements, the use of materials, some of them novel, and the very sensitive matter of school records, as well as the duration of the school day and the school year, the health and physical capacity, and indeed the morality, of teachers and of others who may work in schools. Without having to elongate these considerations or the deliberations on the Bill, those in the other place will want to give attention to these matters for the purposes of elucidation.

    I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the undertaking that he gave about consultation. I understand that some preliminary discussion has already started about those matters. I hope that the clause, when introduced, will not suffer because of the unfortunate fact that the Secretary of State for the Environment has effectively deprived the House of giving proper consideration to these matters.

    I had hoped to hear from the Government that they were able to accept new clause 13, which deals with school records. For a long time I have been pressing that parents should have the right of access to the records kept on their children. That would be a very useful measure. However, I realise that there are some difficulties for the Government, so I very much welcome that at least in their new clause, in paragraph (1)(d), they appear to be taking new powers so that they may in the future be able to make regulations enabling parents to have the right of access to their children's records. I very much welcome that the Government are at least taking the powers to do that, although I appreciate that I and other people concerned about this will have to continue to lobby to make sure that, having taken the power to make the regulations, the Minister makes them.

    Just as I am concerned that parents ought to have the right to see their child- ren's records, so there is a lot of concern among teachers about their rights to see the records that are kept. Those two measures, giving a right to see what records are kept, could usefully be introduced. I hope that the Minister will at least have the matter considered in the other place and see whether it is possible to extend the powers relating to the keeping of records to cover not only pupils but teachers. Everyone has the feeling that there should not be some secret record which may or may not be accurate.

    Therefore, while I am a little disappointed, although not surprised, that the Minister cannot accept new clause 13, I very much welcome that in the clause he has included paragraph (1) (d), which goes a little further than the powers that he has taken in the past.

    In the dying guillotine seconds it is proper to make the point that although the Secretary of State takes powers over county and voluntary schools, it is an absolute scandal that under the clause he does not take powers over those assisted places schools on which he is about to spend £55 million of public money.

    It being half-past Eight o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order [29 January] and the resolution this day, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

    Question, That the clause be read a Second time, put and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.