Second Estates Commissioner welcomes relationships education in schools

On 16th July 2019 in the House of Commons Emma Hardy MP (Lab) asked an urgent question to the Secretary of State for Education on whether “he will make a statement on what steps he is taking to counter misinformation about the content of relationship education in schools”. The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, asked a follow-up question:

Dame Caroline Spelman: The Church of England, the largest provider of primary education, fully supports this updating of the guidance. As the Minister says, it has not been updated for the past 20 years, and childhood has changed greatly during that time. Does the Minister agree that one of the imperatives for this change must be to protect pupils and keep them safe in the complex online world that they inhabit? My heart goes out to the children caught up in all this.

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Bishop of Coventry condemns homophobic and misogynistic attacks

On 11th June 2019 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the Government “whether current statute is a sufficient deterrent in preventing homophobic and misogynistic attacks”. The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:

Coventry171123 bThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I am sure that Members of your Lordships’ House would expect these Benches to join in the outrage at these attacks. We do so fully, condemning them on behalf of the Church of England and of other churches and faith communities.

The Minister will know—and I admit—that the churches and other faith communities have their own debates over sexual relationships and practices, including same-sex ones. However, does she know that the Church of England has developed a set of pastoral principles aimed at eradicating the seeds of prejudice, fear and ignorance? Does she also know that that builds on the initiative of our four-year programme in schools, stopping the seeds of hate that she described germinating at a very early age? Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry condemns homophobic and misogynistic attacks”

Bishop of Durham speaks on new Relationships and Sex Education Regulations

On 24th April 2019 the House of Lords considered a motion to approve the Government’s Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate. The House approved the Regulations without a vote on the motion.

As human beings, we are relational. Relationships with others, and indeed with God, matter. They are primarily formed rather than taught. Our parents, siblings, wider family and friends shape our ability to relate from our first breaths. Our love for God shapes how we relate to people. We do well to remember that any relationships education can only ever be rooted in our experience of relationships, both good and bad; yet education is required.

Bishop of Oxford responds to draft relationships education proposals and asks about online safety

On 25th February 2019 the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, responded to a Ministerial statement on Government proposals for draft regulations and guidance for relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education.  The Bishop welcomed aspects of the draft guidelines and asked about the provisions to teach about online safety:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the repetition of the Statement and for the guidelines. The Church of England’s chief education officer has in particular welcomed the stronger impetus on teaching faith perspectives relevant to people of all faiths and none, irrespective of the kind of school that they attend, which is key to combating religious prejudice. I underline the concerns raised by noble Lords about resourcing.

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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 Winchester asks Government about importance of friendship and self-image within teaching of sex and relationship education

winchester171116On 24th November 2016 Baroness Donaghy asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they plan to make sex and relationship education part of the national curriculum.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is important for such education to be about not just sex and sexuality but sex and relationships? Should such education therefore include wholesome friendships and relationships between the sexes, the importance—as already discussed—of guarding against abuse, and the vital need for young people to have a healthy self-identity? On the last point, I commend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester on her work with children on body image. What steps will the Government take to incorporate such broader issues and concerns into any sex and relationships curriculum? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks Government about importance of friendship and self-image within teaching of sex and relationship education”

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.

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