Clause 126

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 28 February 2008.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 3:00, 28 February 2008

I think I will use my own words on this occasion and I apologise to those who were wanting more excerpts from the “Dictionary of Quotations”, or even the original source, because we all know that the hon. Gentleman is fond of bringing the original tomes into Committee and referring to them, as we have seen throughout our proceedings.

The current regulations for non-maintained special schools require religious worship and religious education to be provided for pupils in those schools unless their parents express a wish that they not do so. The Education and Inspections Act 2006 amended legislation for maintained special schools so that sixth-form pupils in those schools have the right to withdraw from religious worship. All we are seeking to do in this clause is to afford those same rights to sixth-form pupils in non-maintained special schools as exist in maintained special schools. There is no justification for treating sixth-form pupils differently just because they attend a different type of special school.

In making this change, we are not only achieving consistency but, in respect of the hon. Gentleman’s point, being consistent in saying that young people have a duty, that they are of sufficient maturity to be able to understand and fulfil that duty, and that we therefore similarly believe that they are of sufficient maturity to make up their own minds as to whether they want to participate in religious education and worship. I hope the Committee will support this clause.