Schools: Discrimination

Department for Education written question – answered on 3rd September 2020.

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Photo of Catherine McKinnell Catherine McKinnell Chair, Petitions Committee, Chair, Petitions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to tackle racism and Islamophobia in (a) schools and (b) among young people.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe, and equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. That is why we have made Relationships Education compulsory for primary school age pupils, Relationships and Sex Education compulsory for secondary school age pupils and Health Education compulsory for pupils in all state funded schools.

The statutory duty to implement the new subjects has now come into force. However, considering the circumstances faced by our schools, the Department is reassuring schools that they have flexibility over when they discharge their duty within the first year of compulsory teaching.

The statutory guidance sets out that as part of Relationships Education, all primary aged pupils will be taught the importance of respecting others, even when they are very different from them, or make different choices or have different preferences or beliefs. Pupils will also be taught what a stereotype is, and how stereotypes can be unfair, negative or destructive.

Schools can also teach about racism and religion in personal, social, health and economic education and citizenship education where pupils can develop their understanding of the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the UK and the need for mutual respect and understanding. All state funded schools are required by legislation or by their funding agreements to teach religious education to all registered pupils aged 5 to 18 years. Teaching religious education is also part of schools’ activity to meet their legal duty to promote young people’s spiritual, moral and cultural development.

Schools are required to actively promote fundamental British values, including democracy as well as the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faith and beliefs.

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