The Cass Review

2. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Education – in the Senedd at on 12 June 2024.

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Photo of Laura Anne Jones Laura Anne Jones Conservative

(Translated)

4. What guidance has the Welsh Government provided to schools following the Cass review? OQ61234

Photo of Lynne Neagle Lynne Neagle Labour 3:00, 12 June 2024

The focus of the Cass review is not education, although I acknowledge principles and evidence from the review will be important for schools. We are continuing our analysis of the Cass review and any implications for education services in Wales.

Photo of Laura Anne Jones Laura Anne Jones Conservative

Diolch. Cabinet Secretary, we all have a duty to protect the health and well-being of children and young people in Wales, particularly you in your new role, and I know that you take that seriously. It is clear from the Cass review’s concerning findings that children who are confused about their gender have been let down by a lack of evidence and research. The Cass review, whose findings are significant for people here in Wales as well as England, warns against teachers making premature and what amount to be clinical decisions about the children whom they are supposed to be safeguarding. It is clear from the report’s findings that social transitioning in schools is often a precursor to going down a road to irreversible medical intervention, often, worryingly, without parental knowledge.

Yet here in Wales we seem to have a blind-sighted approach to gender ideology and dysphoria, which is woven throughout the Welsh Government's own compulsory relationships and education code and guidance, and it needs to be reviewed urgently and take in the findings of this landmark review. The UK Government have seen this as important enough to issue new guidance to schools, Cabinet Secretary, yet here in Wales we have a deafening silence and no action on this. Our children deserve far better, Cabinet Secretary, and need to be safeguarded properly in light of those findings of the Cass review, which are hugely significant. So, when can we expect that new or revised guidance to go out to schools across Wales? Because it shouldn't be a matter of if you do it, it should be a matter of when. Thank you.

Photo of Lynne Neagle Lynne Neagle Labour 3:02, 12 June 2024

Thank you for that supplementary. Can I say that I want our schools to be inclusive, welcoming places for all children and young people? I think that should be the starting point of everyone in this Chamber, including you, Laura. We have been working on draft guidance on trans issues. We've worked in a co-productive way with a range of stakeholders and also with children and young people themselves. However, mindful of the findings of the Cass review, which did have some findings to make around education, we wanted to take some more time to consider the Cass review more fully before going out to consult on that. So, that's what we are doing at the moment. So, rather than there being a deafening silence on this issue, we are seeking to make sure that what we do in this area is absolutely evidence based.

And if I could just remind the Member that, while there's been a lot of focus by some in her party, and her in particular, on the Cass review, one of the most important findings as far as I was concerned in the review was when Dr Hilary Cass said:

'The surrounding noise and increasingly toxic, ideological and polarised public debate has made the work of the Review significantly harder and does nothing to serve the children and young people who may already be subject to significant minority stress.'

I know you probably don't want to hear it, but it's important for you to hear it. A compassionate and kind society remembers that there are real children, young people, families, carers and clinicians behind the headlines, and we would all of us do well to remember that.