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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative 6:00 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, when it comes to this amendment, I stand four-square beside my noble friend Lady Walmsley. I congratulate the noble Baronesses opposite on all the effort that they have put into this subject. One of the most important things about schools is that we should try to produce young people who are well informed and resilient and go out into life able to deal with it, which was certainly not the case in my education. Indeed, a recent survey from the University of Oxford showed that 85 per cent of its graduates were frightened of getting a job. There is a good deal to do in schools in one way or another.

However, I entirely agree with my noble friend that this is the wrong amendment in the wrong place. It is too restrictive and too simple and applies only to academies. We need this to be part of the curriculum review that my noble friend has promised. That is the pressure point to which we ought to be applying ourselves.

I am also concerned because the phrase PSHE associates itself in my mind-and perhaps my noble friend will educate me-with a rather clunky, didactic, old-fashioned way in which to approach these things. That is at a time when, if one goes around schools, which I do a good deal for the Good Schools Guide, one sees a lot of new, interesting and innovative approaches to this aspect of schooling, which I would not want to close out by including it in a process-based curriculum rather than requirements for what the children should be like when they leave school. It is one of the faults of the curriculum that we have at the moment that things such as citizenship have to be added as extra subjects when really they should be there as outcomes and it is up to the school to decide how they are delivered. I cite in particular the work on positive psychology and well being that started with Wellington College and has spread widely from there. Also, I attended a presentation for schools, part of which was a presentation by a primary school in the East End on its use of psychology lessons. It taught psychology as a separate subject and with immense good effects. As the noble Baroness said, once you get it right, it spreads though the school, from attitude to education generally and to behaviour. I do not want to see this subject fossilised in a set of requirements, as the curriculum is set out at the moment, certainly not without the sort of discussion and understanding of the subtleties that would occur through a proper participation in the curriculum review.