Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 7:55 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North 7:55 pm, 11th January 2010

It is always a pleasure to follow my friend, Mr. Bellingham. He delivers his speeches like he plays his cricket, with a stout defence and the occasional flashing, brilliant shot, but also with the tendency to take his eye off the ball on occasions-a tendency that I shall avoid the temptation to take advantage of this evening, because we are discussing such a serious issue, particularly for my constituents.

I represent a constituency that sends the fewest number of kids to college and university, has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in western Europe, and has profound and severe problems of deprivation. That is why, for me, the most important thing in the Bill is what I would call the life skills part-the part dealing with teaching our babies, children, primary children and secondary young people the importance of some of the basics that most of us here learned at our mother and father's knees. Many of those skills-the basic social and emotional capabilities-are not in place in constituencies such as mine. If they are not there, we have a choice: either we can spend billions of pounds on remedial action when things go wrong, complain about the problem, turn our teachers into crowd control experts, put money into our courts and magistrates courts, and pay for people to spend a lifetime on welfare benefits; or we can do something about the problem. The great thing that the Bill does is take another step towards having the capability to help young people when they need it.

PSHE, as it is called-we really have to do something about that; we should change the name to something that means something to people on the ground, such as "life skills"-is not, on its own, a magic bullet; it is part of a package of early-intervention measures. In Nottingham, we have been fortunate enough to put a number of those measures in place, but we need the rest of the jigsaw. Those children need to know that they can access the great world of learning because they have the skills and capabilities to do so-the skill to listen, the skill to pay attention, the skill to be self-disciplined, the ability to reconcile arguments without violence, the ability to aspire to learn, and the ability to want to get qualifications and go on and get a decent job. That is why the Bill is so important.

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