Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 6:08 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Labour, North West Durham 6:08 pm, 11th January 2010

I trust that I shall take a fair deal less than the 15 minutes allocated to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I found the exchanges between the two Front Benchers fascinating, and I am sorry that I shall not follow them in talking mainly about schools.

I wish to discuss some of the Bill's specific aspects, much of which I welcome-for example, the statutory basis on which the Government propose to put personal, social and health education. Most of my remarks result from my experience, gained both before I came to this House and in this House, of the effects of social exclusion, in particular.

I cannot stress too strongly how we must help and support those children who do not get the support from their families that Michael Gove was talking about, or how we must work with them so that they can take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them. The evidence from many different reports that I saw when I was in the Cabinet Office is that emotional well-being is critical to enabling the most vulnerable to learn, and so paying attention to that is very important. There are some superb programmes out there and we should be far more centrally prescriptive when it comes to what we know works in PSHE. My hon. Friend Mr. Allen knows the programmes about which I am talking.

For very young children, but also as the children get older, learning to deal effectively with relationship development and, yes, with sex education is critical. The schools and local authorities that do that effectively are precisely the schools and local authorities that are successfully reducing teenage pregnancy rates. We are daft in this place if we simply say, "Oh, we don't like that. We're frightened of that." We must consider such an approach and we must use the programmes that we know work. We should use the experience that is out there and spread the good practice much more effectively around the country.

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