Academies Bill [HL] — Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Baroness Howe of Idlicote Baroness Howe of Idlicote Crossbench 5:30 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, this has been a stimulating and diverse debate. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, for her amendment. Academies have the advantage of being able to teach in a way that they think appropriate to their pupils. That would be a plus in making PSHE a curriculum requirement and we could get it started in the academy set-up.

I agree that it is sad that PSHE has not been included in the curriculum as a result of bits being struck out of rushed legislation in the final days of the previous Government. However, that is as it may be; I can see no reason why we should not start with this Bill and see at a later stage whether it needs extending. The noble Baroness, Lady Perry, said that PSHE is taught in practically every school, yet we hear from the noble Lord, Lord Knight, that it is taught neither well nor in a way that young people approve of and can gain from. So it is clear that there is a need for rather greater teacher training, too.

I am only sad that my noble friend Lord Northbourne is not here, because he would have stressed, as have I on previous occasions, that here is an ideal framework within which to teach parenting. I am talking not just about relationships with one's own parents but also, and much more importantly, about the relationship that a parent will have with their children and their responsibilities to the rising generation. That will be of enormous value to young people when they think about whether to use contraceptives at the age of 10 or, better still, to refrain from sex altogether. When I was chair of the Broadcasting Standards Commission some way back, a lot of issues of this kind were brought to us by worried and concerned parents. What children see on television today, and sometimes even hear on the radio, is enough to make it important that we educate children as early as possible to deal with these situations.

My thanks still go to the mover of the amendment. If we are pushed to a vote on it, my instinct will to go into the Lobby with her. In the mean time, we all need to think about even more ways in which we can get over the important message behind all this.