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

That is why this issue is intergenerational, and why we must look at the new-born of today as the parents of tomorrow, and help them to become the great parents of tomorrow who will, in turn, raise good kids. That is something that we all have to share.

My hon. Friend Mr. Laws-I will call him my hon. Friend-talked about one-to-one tuition and when that approach should be taken. I am not privy to the nuances of Government policy, but I know that if we are going to do one-to-one tuition, we should do it early, not late. We should not give one-to-one tuition to the 16-year-old who is banged up in a secure unit; we should give it to the 16-month-old who could otherwise become that child later on. We should get to work early on one to one, if there is a choice. I think that the Government have got that right, although I wish that we could extend the provision across the whole age range. If a choice has to be made, however, it must be that one.

I was talking to Mr. Gibb about life skills before we came into the Chamber-[Hon. Members: "Surely not!"] I have no secrets to tell. I hope that he will not mind my repeating that we are not just talking about sex and relationship education, or about financial capability, or about the things that are in the current PHSE curriculum. I am talking about something much more fundamental-namely, the basic ability to interact, to have empathy with other people, and to sit and listen and learn. That is what I mean by social and emotional skills. I hope that I went halfway towards convincing him that those things make a much richer, more fundamental contribution to what we can all become. That, in turn, can make English, maths and all the other academic subjects much more accessible.

I hope that I can blow the trumpet for my own city of Nottingham. We started teaching life skills for 11 to 16-year-olds a year before this legislation was introduced. We started in six of the 14 secondary schools, and it is proving to be a great success. We did the training first, as my hon. Friend Mr. Sheerman pointed out, and there are many lessons that I hope we can learn from Nottingham. Perhaps my Front-Bench colleagues will come up and see how we are training, consulting the students, and allowing local variations so that we can hand-make the local curriculum. Yes, it is compulsory, but we must ensure that the curriculum for a special school is different from one for a pupil referral unit or for a conventional secondary school. All abilities need to be involved. All our agencies are involved, we are piloting this effectively and we have effective evaluation in place. We think that the Government could learn from Nottingham, and we wish them well with these proposals.

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