Children and Social Work Bill: Bishop of Peterborough supports amendments on relationships and sex education

14.02 PeterboroughOn 4th April 2017 the House of Lords considered amendments made by MPs to the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill. Government Minister Lord Nash proposed that the Lords accept an amendment to provide compulsory relationships education at primary schools. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Donald Allister, spoke in favour of the amendment, which was accepted by the House.

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I am very happy indeed to support government Amendments 12 and 13 on relationships and sex education and on PSHE. Compulsory provision and statutory guidance are necessary in these areas. The Church of England welcomes this and we very much look forward to the consultation.

We particularly welcome the decision to reverse the name and put “relationships” rather than “sex” at the heart of this policy. This is not about just sex or sex education. It puts sex in its proper context of committed and consensual relationships. But it is also about friendships, resilience, good disagreement and living with difference. It is about tackling bullying, self-image, social media, advertising and so much else. It is about supporting children and preparing them for adult life.

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Bishop of Chester asks Government about parental engagement with PSHE

On the 10th February 2016 Baroness Massey of Darwen asked the Government “what steps they propose to take to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education compulsory within the curriculum”. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a follow up question.

14.03 Bishop of ChesterThe Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, although I agree with all that the Minister has said in response to the questions, is it not the case that engaging parents—making sure that what is taught in schools relates to and engages parents as much as possible—is also important to any government action which may be forthcoming in the future? Continue reading “Bishop of Chester asks Government about parental engagement with PSHE”

The Bishop of Leicester speaks in favour of updating guidance on sex and relationship education

The Bishop of Leicester spoke in the debate on the Report Stage of the Children & Families Bill. He spoke in favour of Amendment 53, on behalf of the Bishop of Oxford, who co-sponsored the amendment. The amendment called for guidance on sex and relationship education to be updated in light of technological changes. He spoke of the need for holistic education of children, and reflected on the conclusions of the ‘Good Childhood’ commission that children themselves are keen to develop strong and healthy relationships. The amendment was not pressed to a votLeicestere.

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, I support Amendment 53 and speak in place of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, who has lent his name to it but cannot be in his place today. Personally, I find myself on the side of those who want PSHE to be a formal part of the curriculum and Amendment 53 goes some way in that direction.

I have three brief points to make. First, we on these Benches see social, emotional and spiritual intelligence as a vital part of a child’s development. We are not just interested in raising children who can pass exams, but in creating opportunities for young people to take control of their lives and values. Secondly, it is clear that there is a strong and growing coalition of organisations involved in this work, which have some knowledge in this area, and which support this proposal, including the Children’s Society the Mothers Union and many others.

Thirdly, I speak as a former chair of the Children’s Society and as a member of the Good Childhood commission, which reported four years or so ago, and which took evidence from more than 5,000 children. It was not evidence on this specific point, but it was evidence on the general point of what children understand makes for their well-being. Over and over again, children said that one of their top priorities was their friendships. They were trying to find their way through a complex, labyrinthine world in which friendships, intimacy and relationships had to be understood in this technological age, which has been so vividly described by previous speakers, where it was children who were asking for help in this area.

That is the most telling contribution I want to make to this debate. We do not have children in this House; we do not have the voice of children here. If we listen carefully to what they are saying to us through the Good Childhood Report and in other ways, we will find that they want our generation to help them to understand who they are and who they are with others in this completely new world, which has not shaped the relationships or outlooks of any Members of your Lordships’ House. For that reason, I strongly support Amendment 53.