Lords debates schools' contribution

15 June 2012

The House of Lords discussed the contribution that schools make to the wellbeing and personal and social needs of children and young people in a debate yesterday (Thursday 14 June)

Several members, whose specialist interests include the welfare of children and young people spoke at the debate.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Labour) opened the debate and her speech addressed schools' roles in helping with promoting childhood nutrition and preventing obesity: 'We believe that schools have an important role to play in tackling poor physical health and in supporting those with behavioural difficulties or mental health problems in school. We believe that by addressing these issues we will improve the capacity of children to study and learn.'

A former spokesperson for early years education and education and skills, Baroness Walmsley (Liberal Democrat), spoke about getting the balance right between health and well-being of children and developing their intellects. 'In the search for high academic standards, there is a danger of focusing too much on the child's intellectual and skills development at the expense of their well-being and emotional maturity,' she explained.

Baroness Benjamin (Liberal Democrat), a trustee of Sparks, the children's medical research charity and Vice President of Barnardo's, referred to her own happy school days and the importance of the early years in education. She said: 'Childhood lasts a lifetime and the early foundation stages are the most important of a child's life. That is when the billions of brain cells are forming connections, so good nursery and primary school teaching is essential to the foundation of a child's development. That is the time when they need the best teachers.'  

Governor at Central Foundation School for Boys, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Labour), spoke of the importance of nutritious school meals '...we should be making more of good and healthy eating as the basis for a child's sense of well-being at school so that they are well disposed to receive what happens in the classroom and have the strength to undertake what happens on the sports field afterwards,' he said.

Lord Hill of Oareford (Conservative), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, summed up on behalf of the government, saying: 'The government are so intent on raising educational standards, particularly in disadvantaged areas. I believe that if we can do that, it will make it much easier for us to achieve all the other desirable ends that noble Lords have discussed today and which I know we are all keen to achieve.'

Further information

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