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Forced Marriage

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th June 2011.

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Photo of Lord Lester of Herne Hill Lord Lester of Herne Hill Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide more support to enable and encourage teachers to protect children against the risks of forced marriage; and whether they will ask Ofsted to have particular regard to the implementation of the statutory guidance on forced marriage in assessing school arrangements.

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

The Government already provide considerable support to protect children against the risk of forced marriage, which is a serious form of child abuse. The joint Home Office/Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), which was launched in January 2005, provides advice to teachers in schools. The FMU produced statutory guidance on Forced Marriage in 2008 (revised 2010); revised multi-agency practice guidelines on handling cases of forced marriage in 2009; and supplementary guidelines on handling cases of forced marriage involving persons with learning disabilities in 2010. The guidance documents are targeted at frontline practitioners and volunteers.

In schools, the risks relating to forced marriage are principally, although not exclusively, explored within personal, social, health and economic education (PHSE). An internal review into PHSE will determine how we can support schools to improve the quality of all PHSE teaching. It is for individual schools to decide how to address forced marriage issues, according to the needs of their pupils.

The Government are committed to refocusing school inspection around the core areas of pupil achievement, teaching, leadership and behaviour safety. The issue of forced marriage may be relevant to inspectors' evaluation of schools' arrangements for keeping pupils safe. If concerns are brought to the attention of inspectors they will be expected to satisfy themselves that the school is doing everything it can to support pupils. There are no plans to ask Ofsted to consider compliance with statutory guidance on forced marriage as part of every school inspection or for forced marriage to be covered specifically as a discrete aspect of an inspection.

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