Human Rights: Children

Education written question – answered on 3rd July 2012.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

To ask the Secretary of State for Education with reference to the answer of 25 April 2012, Official Report, columns 929-30W, on human rights: children, what contribution his Department is making to domestic policies with the objective of meeting the UK's commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Photo of Sarah Teather Sarah Teather The Minister of State, Department for Education

The Government are committed to the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) and take their obligation to implement the Convention seriously. In a written ministerial statement on 6 December 2010, Hansard, columns 5-7WS, the Government gave a commitment to

“give due consideration to the UNCRC articles when making new policy and legislation”.

We are using the UN Committee's 2008 Concluding Observations as a reference point for where we can strengthen policy and legislation.

To reinforce the Government's commitment, the Department for Education is working alongside key children's rights organisations to raise awareness and understanding of the UNCRC in other Government Departments.

A new version of the Cabinet Office “Guide to Making Legislation” has been published. It makes explicit the requirement to consider the UNCRC in the development of legislation. Bill teams with legislation in the second session have also received additional materials on the UNCRC through their pre-legislation training.

The Department uses the Home Affairs clearance process to raise objections to any Government proposals that appear inconsistent with the articles of the convention.

In the Department's own areas of responsibility:

we are addressing the links between children's achievement in school and their background through a pupil premium to tackle inequality and to ensure resources and support reach the pupils who need them most; the revised statutory guidance on the roles and responsibilities of directors of children services and lead members of children services includes references to consideration of the convention; the Government are legislating to strengthen the role and functions of the children's commissioner;

In May, we set out latest measures being taken to implement the Bailey review recommendations to protect children from excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation. This included a consultation on age rating of hard copy music videos, and from this month, the introduction of a new system of age classification and labelling for videogames. On 28 June we began the process of seeking views from the information and communication industries, charities, parents and young people on current approaches to online safety, what improvements are already in development, and what more could be done; further legislative reforms were announced in the Queen's Speech, including in relation to children with special educational needs and disabilities, adoption and family law; and there have been significant reforms to the arrangements for children and families who have been unsuccessful in seeking asylum, prior to deportation, specifically the Government’s commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes and the closure of Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

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