Relationship Education in Schools

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Angela Rayner Angela Rayner Shadow Secretary of State for Education 12:39 pm, 16th July 2019

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this important urgent question, and I thank my hon. Friend Emma Hardy for asking it with such passion.

I commend the Department for Education and Ministers for their work—we have made great progress—but I urge them to go further and support the school. If they did, they would have the support of this House and the other place. This is not about consultation—I do not believe that the issues that have arisen are about consultation; they are about LGBT rights, the misinformation being put out and the bigotry being displayed by some minorities on our streets. We have to hit back.

I saw it myself only a few weeks ago after marching with the Terrence Higgins Trust at London Pride. I was trolled for supporting the LGBT+ community, but the support I have received from hon. Members across the House is evidence to all that we will not opt out of equality in this place. It is time for Ministers to provide the right guidance, resource and support to face down the protests and prejudice. Many parents will not be watching this debate. In addition to the measures the Minister has already outlined, what will his Department do to combat the misinformation and to allay parents’ fears?

In addition to the information for parents, training is meant to be available for teachers, but there is only £6 million to fund it, which averages at just £254 per school. Will the Minister confirm that his Department’s estimate of the amount needed was actually over £30 million and will he share details of how that funding is being allocated? The early adopters will be starting in September—just weeks away. Will that funding be available only for early-adopter schools? If so, what resource is available for others wishing to take up the programme?

We must provide the most comprehensive support for the teachers on the frontline, and this must continue under the new Prime Minister. Inclusive education must be a right for every single child. We will not go back to the days of section 28. Every child is a gift. I hope that the Minister will ensure that his team and the Government take every step over the summer to reinforce this.