Bishop of St Albans – Forced Marriage (Written Answer)

On 10th December 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on the subject of forced marriage.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will clarify the role of teachers in monitoring girls at risk of being forced into under-age marriage. [HL3494]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): All school staff have a responsibility to identify children who may be in need of extra help or who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm. All staff then have a responsibility to take appropriate action, working with other services as required. Those responsibilities, which apply to the risk of forced marriage as to any other form of abuse, are set out in ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ statutory guidance for schools and their staff which the Government published in April 2014. [1]

The statutory guidance contains links to more detailed guidance on specific risks, including multi-Agency guidelines on forced marriage. [2] The chapter of those guidelines which focuses on schools, colleges and universities indicates: what teachers should look out for, such as changes in behaviour or attendance or the early marriage of a sibling; how they can support girls, by giving access to support and advice; and what they should do if they suspect a girl is being forced into marriage, including activating local child protection procedures.