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 Hill of Oareford Lord Hill of Oareford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education 6:00 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, we had a very good debate on this subject in Committee, a slightly longer debate than the one that we have had today. We have had another very good debate this afternoon. I had the chance last week to meet Peers with a particular interest in PSHE and was grateful for their advice. I join others in paying tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, for the way that she has pursued this issue, as have my noble friend Lady Walmsley and many other noble Lords from all parts of the House. I have learnt a lot from noble Lords in the process, not least about knitting from the noble Baroness, Lady Massey-a reference lost on those who were not here for the Committee stage.

What is clear to me, who comes relatively new to this debate, is that there is broad agreement in this House on the importance of PSHE. Nothing has been said today by anyone from any part of the House that would disagree with that. There are differences of opinion about the best way forward. This evening the question is relatively simple and straightforward, so I think I can be brief. This is an important and broad subject. Should we, as this amendment argues, make PSHE a compulsory requirement for academies alone as one distinct set of schools and should we act now? Those are the two main questions that have been debated this evening. I would argue not. First, as others have said, I am not convinced that singling out PSHE in primary legislation is the right way to go. Secondly, I would argue, as a number of noble Lords have argued-it was argued very persuasively by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln-that the best place to consider these issues is in the round, when we get the chance to look at the whole question of the national curriculum later in the year. Noble Lords have already mentioned that we are carrying out a complete review.

In response to the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy-