The Bishop of Worcester asked a question about government commitment to arts education during a debate on data, digital, and financial literacy in schools on 14th March 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, recently I had the privilege of serving on your Lordships’ Communications Committee. What came through consistently in our inquiry into the effects of technology on the creative industries was the need for creative and artistic literacy as well as digital literacy—we need STEAM, not just STEM. I speak as a former scientist deeply committed to science and technology. Does the Minister agree and, if so, what can the Government do to enable that, given their reluctance to review the national curriculum and prioritise arts more?
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 31st January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Barran on 9 January (HL4502 and HL4503), what current research informs their statutory curriculum for relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) with regard to gambling education.
Baroness Barran: The current statutory guidance for relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) was informed by a stakeholder engagement process in 2017, including a public call for evidence that received over 23,000 responses from parents, young people, schools and experts.
On Tuesday 17th January 2023, the House of Lords debated the Levelling Up Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of Leeds made a speech on the importance of good transport links and amending discrepancies in education:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble and right reverend Lord, who has already stolen some of what I was going to say—great minds and all of that, maybe. When I first heard the phrase “levelling up”, I thought, “Here we go again—another slogan in search of substance”. Yet what we have heard today so far is that there is a great deal of potential substance to this Bill. I applaud the motivation and ambition behind it, and the attempt in the 12 missions to have a holistic approach rather than simply to pick off bits of our society. But I do think we need to take seriously, after the honest analysis that we had from the Minister, the argument that it gives the lie to the opening assertion of the White Paper that the UK is an unparalleled success story. If it was, we would not need the detail that we have before us. This sort of language of hubris can very easily militate against us taking seriously the scale of the task.
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 9th January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government:
what plans they have to review the statutory guidance Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education to provide further clarification on what pupils should know about online gambling.
what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the statutory guidance Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education in preventing harmful gambling by school pupils.
The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question on women’s education in sub-Saharan Africa, during a debate on government plans to combat HIV, tabled for World AIDS day on 1st December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, in sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women are three times more likely to acquire HIV than adolescent boys and men. Can the Minister say what is being done to fund programmes which help to keep girls in education, which we know reduces their vulnerability to HIV by up to 50%?
The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question about government plans to implement parts of the Schools Bill, during a debate on improving the education system on 30th November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, the Schools Bill was partly intended to remove barriers to enable church schools to fully embrace the journey towards academisation. Given that there has been no further progress on that Bill, what plan do the Government have for introducing the legislative parts of that Bill that were broadly agreed and are needed to secure the development of all schools?
The Bishop of St Albans asked a question about universities offering classes on free speech, during a debate on the use of philosophy in education on 1st November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is not only about critical thinking; we need to have a place where those ideas can be exchanged, which is about free speech. I understand that the University of Cambridge has recently appointed a philosophy professor, who is teaching classes in free speech. Does the Minister think this is something we need in all our universities, and should it start in our schools as well?
The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in a debate on the Schools Bill in its second day of Report Stage, on 18th July 2022, in support of amendments on home schooling and the home school register. His speech is below, followed by those of other peers:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I speak on behalf of my right reverend friend the Bishop of St. Albans, who has two amendments in his name,
Amendments 66 and 94. His name is also listed on Amendments 65 and 66A, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas.
Amendments 65, 66 and 66A continue to take issue with the proposals for details of the means by which a child is being educated to be included on the register. Amendment 66 would replace this with a determination of suitability, and provide for visits by the local authority for determining that suitability to be recorded. However, further to communication with the Department for Education and the Minister, we understand that their interpretation of the word “means” does not relate to the educational content or methods of home educating but simply to the providers of the education, since separate rules for registration will pertain to out-of-school education. We have been informed that this framework will be set out in the future statutory guidance. This is a much more positive interpretation than had previously been supposed, but if this is the interpretation I am not sure why it could not have been contained within the primary legislation rather than prescribed at a later date. Amendment 66A, from the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, would naturally resolve that problem.
The House of Lords considered the Government’s Schools Bill at Report Stage on 12th July 2022. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate on numerous amendments, several of which were put to a vote. His speeches and contributions from other peers are below:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Storey, that there are many maintained and voluntary-aided stand-alone schools that have turned themselves around incredibly well through good leadership and high-quality teaching, so academisation is not the simple answer. Local leadership and governance undoubtedly need to be got right. I declare my interest as chair of the National Society and would like to highlight the importance here, in the church sector, of the diocesan boards of education as key local engagers. We will come to that in a later group.
Local knowledge of schools is crucial in ensuring that their flourishing is provided for. However, I am going to disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Storey, because I find the amendment overly mandatory and restrictive, giving too much power to a local body to trigger a school leaving an academy trust; I am not sure that that is right. The principle of local governance needs to be got right. I am not convinced that this amendment as proposed is quite the right way to do it. As was said in Committee, it is important to have proper local engagement, but it must not be too detailed in how it is mandated.
The Bishop of Gloucester received the following written answer on 11th July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester asked Her Majesty’s Government what recent estimate they have made of the number of children in England who are eligible for income-related free school meals but are not registered for the scheme.
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