Female Genital Mutilation: Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 1st April 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Jenkin of Kennington Baroness Jenkin of Kennington Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether female genital mutilation education in schools is having a positive impact.

Photo of Baroness Jenkin of Kennington Baroness Jenkin of Kennington Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of female genital mutilation education in schools on any stigma experienced by children of African descent.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is child abuse and it is illegal. Services, including schools, should safeguard children from this abuse as from any other form of abuse.

Keeping children safe in education is statutory safeguarding guidance. All schools must have regard to it when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The guidance sets out that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and that all school staff should receive appropriate safeguarding training at induction and that the training should be regularly updated. The guidance states that all staff should speak to the school’s designated safeguarding lead with regard to any concerns about FGM. It then goes on to explain the specific legal duty placed on teachers to report an act of FGM on a girl under the age of 18 to the police. The guidance is available here and attached: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education--2.

We want to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe. We want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. From September 2020, we are making Relationships Education compulsory for all primary pupils, Relationships and Sex Education compulsory for all secondary pupils and Health Education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools.

The statutory guidance states that by the end of secondary education, pupils should have been taught about FGM. Schools should address the physical and emotional damage caused by FGM. They should also be taught where to find support and that it is a criminal offence to perform or assist in the performance of FGM or fail to protect a person for whom you are responsible from FGM. As well as addressing this in the context of the law, pupils may also need support to recognise when relationships (including family relationships) are unhealthy or abusive (including the unacceptability of neglect, emotional, sexual and physical abuse and violence, including honour-based violence and forced marriage) and strategies to manage this or access support for oneself or others at risk. All teaching for these subjects should be age as well as developmentally appropriate and sensitive to the needs of the pupil. This includes ensuring that no pupil feels stigmatised. Schools for example should work closely with the local community and key partners such as school nurses, as well as draw on local health data, when planning their teaching for any aspect of these subjects.

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