Bishop of Gloucester asks about women’s education in sub-Saharan Africa, with a view to HIV prevention

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%?

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Bishop of Gloucester asks about school development

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?

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Bishop of St Albans asks about classes on free speech in universities

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?

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Schools Bill: Bishop of Carlisle supports amendments on regulation of home schooling

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.

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Schools Bill: Bishop of Durham speaks and votes on amendments at report stage

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.

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Bishop of Gloucester asks a question on take up of free school meals

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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Bishop of Coventry on Freedom of Speech in Universities

On 28th June 2022 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Coventry spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, intense competition for students, jostling for promotion among lecturers, vigorous, often intense and sometimes rancorous debate, with dashes of sharp practice and occasional mob violence—not a preview of some future Office for Students report but a snapshot of the early academic career of Augustine of Hippo. One of his first publications was advice to lecturers and, significantly for this debate, he later asserted that “By force we can make no one believe.” I will make some general points about the Bill and then raise three more specific issues.

Timothy Garton Ash speaks of three “vetoes” that silence the ability of people to express themselves: shouting them down, the “heckler’s veto”; declaring what they say to be offensive, the “offensive veto”; and, in extreme cases, threatening to kill people, the “assassin’s veto”.

Sadly, it seems that we have seen each of these techniques in action within higher education, as some of the evidence submitted to the Bill Committee demonstrated.

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Schools Bill: Bishop of Bristol speaks on amendments in committee

On 13th June the House of Lords continued to debate the Government’s Schools Bill in committee. The Bishop of Bristol spoke in the debate, on behalf of the Bishop of Durham:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I speak in place of my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who unfortunately cannot be present today. I declare his interest as chair of the National Society.

I rise briefly to welcome Amendment 40 in this group, which offers real clarity on the issue. We welcome the recognition it shows that the religious body must be involved in giving an interim trustee notice to the proprietor of an academy school with a religious character. We are grateful for the Minister’s continued work on this and hope this might provide a little encouragement at this point.

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Bishop of Durham asks about early education

The Bishop of Durham asked a question regarding the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Review on 30th March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I declare my interest as chair of the National Society, which leads the Church of England’s education work.

I hope the Minister will be pleased to hear that, in response to yesterday’s Green Paper, the Church of England has established a national network for SENCOs at primary and secondary levels, partly to get their opinions on how we should respond but also to offer development in future. However, I want to continue to pursue the early years question. Understandably, this is about education and social care. The first 1,001 days of life are the most crucial. Nothing here refers to the development of family hubs and the work of health visitors in the pre-two context, where some discernment ought to be available. Can the Minister comment on the join-up between the development of family hubs and the really early years?

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Bishop of Worcester asks about the Schools White Paper

The Bishop of Worcester asked a question concerning Church of England schools and the government’s Schools White Paper on 29th March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I echo the noble Lord, Lord Storey, in his thanks for the White Paper. In doing so, I declare my interest as president of the Woodard Corporation. In expressing gratitude, I appreciate in particular how the White Paper recognises the vital role the Churches have played in the educational landscape of this country for more than 200 years and that it sets out how the role needs to continue to be enabled in the future development of the school system. I will focus on two questions regarding the move towards the fully academised educational landscape set out in the White Paper and invite the Minister to agree that it requires two key things.

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