Relationships, Sex and Health Education: Statutory Guidance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 12:20 pm ar 16 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan The Secretary of State for Education 12:20, 16 Mai 2024

I would like to address the hon. Lady’s points; I think I made a note of all of them. First, on this being long in the making, I just want us all to be aware of the timeline. This guidance was issued in 2019, and it was made statutory in 2020. Ofsted conducted some work to see how it was bedding in, which gave us some feedback and comment about how more clarity was needed. That was in the second half of 2021. Obviously, we have taken leadership on this issue—leadership on which I think Labour-run Wales could take a leaf out of our book—and worked with a broad range of organisations. I have mentioned the expert panel, but we have worked with 86 other organisations as well. Of course, this step is out for consultation, so we do expect that everybody who has a view—parents, teachers, local authorities and everybody—will be able to fully engage with the consultation.

On the question about when an urgent issue comes up, or a child wants to ask questions or deal with something specific that they have seen or that has occurred to them, we of course expect that children can always ask questions. We build safe and trusting environments in schools, and there is a difference between a pupil asking a teacher a question or trying to discuss something with a teacher and a teacher standing up in front of a whole class and teaching on a particular subject.

On the question about knowing about transgender—that gender reassignment exists, a law provides for it, it is a protected characteristic and it is something adults can do when they are older—and understanding those facts, we have of course made it clear that that is the case.

On mental health support teams, the Labour party seems to have missed what we have been doing on mental health. In every school in our country, we have given a grant to train a mental health support leader, and most of that work has been done. Our schools have been engaged on that for a long time, and 4.2 million pupils, up from 3.4 million pupils last year, now have access to the mental health support teams that we are rolling out in all of our schools. That is rather different from the Labour policy in that we do not have to completely raid any other sector such as support for special educational needs and disabilities or private schools to do that. We are also doing that for primary and secondary, because we think that is very important.

The hon. Lady mentioned materials, and I just want to update the House that Oak materials will be available in RSHE in the autumn.