Clause 1 — Academy arrangements
Delegated Legislation
9:30 pm

Photo of Nick Gibb

Nick Gibb (The Minister for Schools; Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Conservative)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is the sort of issue we will look at when the review takes place. The curriculum review that is taking place later this year must be the right place to look at PSHE, to ensure that this important subject is debated properly. Members will have every opportunity to contribute to that debate, but at this point it makes sense to ensure that academies' policy on PSHE does not go further than PSHE policy in maintained schools.

Clause 28 of the model funding agreement already states:

"The Academy Trust shall have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State on sex and relationship education to ensure that children at the Academy are protected from inappropriate teaching materials and they learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and for bringing up children."

I hope that that provision reassures my hon. Friend Mr Burrowes and Caroline Lucas, who raised the question of why the national curriculum is not on the statute book for academies. As I mentioned before, there is statutory provision in section 78 of the Education Act 2002 for a broad and balanced curriculum. Creationism cannot be taught as fact in academies or in maintained schools, and it cannot be taught as part of science lessons. The hon. Lady's notion of the purpose of education-enabling the potential of any individual to be fulfilled, whether that is academic or vocational-I agree with 100%. She is absolutely right: fulfilling the potential of every child to the best of their ability, in whatever field that is, is the purpose of education.

The hon. Lady referred to the Manchester academies, which are jointly sponsored by the local authorities and by business. Their ethos is built around this partnership and is not solely related to the skills needs of those businesses. As I said before, the Bill requires academies to have a broad and balanced curriculum, so she can be reassured that the things she described as happening at those academies are not happening.

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