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Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Mary Foy Mary Foy Labour, City of Durham 1:59 pm, 13th March 2020

With the leave of the House, I would like to make some final remarks. I thank every Member who contributed to the debate: the Under-Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, the hon. Members for West Bromwich West (Shaun Bailey), for Dudley South (Mike Wood) and for Harborough (Neil O'Brien), my hon. Friend Steve Reed and Laura Trott who made speeches, and my hon. Friend Rachel Hopkins and James Daly who made interventions. In particular, I thank them for raising the importance of the Bill for the most vulnerable young people in our society and for highlighting those who might be suffering from abuse or mental health issues or have special educational needs. That is one of the main reasons the Bill is so important. We may sometimes disagree on a few issues, but on this one it seems that we are all in agreement.

The purpose of my Bill is simple. I believe that every child should be protected by the same safeguarding legislation. My Bill would address an anomaly in the current legislation and bring all training and education providers that receive Government funding under the same legislation. I think we can all agree that every young person in education should have the same protections. Apprenticeships form a key part of further education. In the coming months, we will see the roll-out of T-levels. Technical qualifications are extremely important. While my constituency is very lucky to be the home of one of the best universities in the country, academia is not a path for everyone. When done well, technical qualifications offer young people a different option—one that provides both an education and a path to work. The expansion of the further education and training sector must be accompanied by steps to ensure that the welfare of young people is fully protected. Under current legislation, that cannot be guaranteed, and it is our duty as MPs to correct this.

Until this safeguarding oversight is corrected, some parents will not be able to send their children to study with peace of mind. Young people pursue further education to learn and gain employment. Everyone in the House wants to see young people in education and then in work. The young people who currently fall into this loophole are doing their best to prepare themselves for the world of work and to contribute to the economy, and they should be supported in this. The least we can do is make sure they are properly protected. In this matter, we can set aside party politics and put the welfare of our young people first.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63).