Children, Schools and Families Bill
Tim Loughton (Shadow Minister (Children), Children, Schools and Families; East Worthing and Shoreham, Conservative)
On the principle that we have argued when considering other provisions, and will continue to argue, that academies should be exempted from the rather prescriptive regulations, will the Minister justify both why the clause is in the Bill, given that the Government and the Opposition are in favour of giving academies greater autonomy and power to decide their own matters, and why academies should not have the power to decide how they teach the various aspects of PSHE that we have debated?
Diana Johnson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Children, Schools and Families; Kingston upon Hull North, Labour)
Clause 12 provides that for the first time, academies will be under a duty to offer the full national curriculum programmes of study in PSHE at key stages 3 and 4. It applies the programme of study and the principles by which it must be taught to academies, so that the system applies to them, just as it does to maintained schools. Academies must also have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
Every child must be able to develop the skills to make choices in their lives on real issues that affect them, such as nutrition, sex and relationships, and personal finance. In direct response to the question posed by the hon. Gentleman, those issues affect all children, no matter which school they attend. Academies already teach PSHE in imaginative ways, but putting it on a more formal footing will ensure that all schools, including academies, cover all aspects. That will send a clear message about its importance. I commend clause 12 to the Committee.