Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 24th April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Barker Baroness Barker Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Voluntary Sector) 6:30 pm, 24th April 2019

In that case I hope that, when the right reverend Prelate looks at some of the materials from the Catholic Education Service and from the NSPCC—its PANTS materials, for example—he will understand that it is possible to arrive at an education in primary school that should be acceptable to a parent who wishes the best for their child.

In view of all this, I have two points to raise with the Minister. First, it is laid out in these regulations that all schools must teach relationships and sex education, and they will have to teach what the law says in this country. They are at liberty to do this within an overall framework that is compatible with their beliefs, but they cannot choose not to educate children about the law. So where parents or pupils find themselves subject to education built upon materials that do not fulfil that part of the guidance, what would be the route through which they can seek a remedy?

Finally, I want to talk about a subject that has not received much attention at all: that is, disabled children. I am co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health. While the consultation was going on, we had a meeting and brought into Parliament people who are disabled and people who are specialists in talking to children with disabilities as part of sex education. It is an incredibly difficult and embarrassing thing to do. Bear in mind that some of those children will be cared for in institutions by some of the same people are who are doing the educating. It is very highly skilled work.

I was deeply struck by the words of a deaf woman who works with deaf children. She expressed such alarm to us that these children were learning from pornography —they were picking up from it stuff that they felt was normal, because adults were embarrassed to talk to them. I know that the Minister’s department has an aversion to developing national materials. I understand that, but I wonder whether he could make an exception on this subject with regard to children with learning disabilities. The noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, has spoken to some of us at different times about developing materials that are appropriate for people with learning disabilities. I wonder whether, during the implementation process, some of the Government’s £6 million budget for this area—I have to say that it is wholly inadequate—could go to what is a very specialised service for a very small number of people. I believe all children deserve to be protected.