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 Lord Waddington Lord Waddington Conservative 5:30 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, it is with considerable diffidence that I rise, because I have not spoken before on this Bill. The amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, does not go as far the one she moved in Committee. It does not remove the right of parents to withdraw children from sex education as that amendment did. But it does, for the first time, make sex education statutory in some primary schools. It is with sex education that I am concerned.

Obviously, it would be strange if sex education were made compulsory in academy primary schools, but not in maintained primary schools, particularly when academies are supposed to have greater freedom than other schools rather than less. Surely academies should be free to choose not to provide sex education for children of primary school age when the school and parents think that it would not be appropriate.

It cannot be denied that this is a very important and sensitive matter involving people's views on morality and religion, and on the right way to bring up children, with many people feeling strongly that young people should not be taught about sex unless it is put very much in a moral context. I do not believe that this crucial subject should be dealt with at the Report stage of a Bill such as this and weighed off in a short debate: it is far too important for that. This Bill is about whether there should be academies at all, not about how, if at all, sex education should be taught in primary schools.