Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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Department for Education
Made on: 25 June 2019
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Education Update

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Damian Hinds) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Today, following the successful passage of the regulations for the introduction of Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education, Government has published the final accompanying statutory guidance.

At the heart of preparing children for life in modern Britain is making sure that they understand the world they are growing up in. It is 19 years since the Sex and Relationships guidance was last updated. For children and young people, the challenges that they face today are very different. Children are encountering a more interconnected and interdependent world, and this has changed significantly how they build relationships, interact with their peers and manage their own mental and physical wellbeing.

This presents both opportunities and risks, as children have greater exposure to information, content and people that can and do cause harm. There is little distinction for many young people between their lives online and off, and that is why we believe now more than ever, that we need to provide young people with the knowledge they need in every context to lead safe, happy and healthy lives.

We have therefore brought forward measures requiring the introduction of compulsory Relationships Education for all pupils in primary schools, compulsory Relationships and Sex Education for all pupils in secondary schools, and compulsory Health Education for all pupils in state-funded schools from September 2020.

With cross-party support, the regulations for these subjects were approved by both Houses of Parliament and were made by the Secretary of State on 9th May. The statutory guidance published today sets out the legal duties with which schools must comply, the required core teaching content for the subjects, and guidance on how the content should be delivered in an age appropriate way.

We will be setting out further details on how we will support schools to introduce the new subjects in September 2020. This will include working closely with the many schools who are choosing to begin teaching the subjects from September 2019, so that we can support their journey, learn lessons and share good practice.

We will also be convening a new working group, who will provide insight into how the new guidance is working in practice. This group, with representatives from teaching unions, sector experts, faith and minority groups, parents and young people, will provide us with evidence and feedback to improve the delivery of these subjects.

We believe that these subjects are an historic step in education that will help equip children and young people with the knowledge and support they need to form healthy relationships, lead healthy lives and be happy and safe in the world today.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1656
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 25 June 2019
Made by: Mr Damian Hinds (The Secretary of State for Education)
Commons

Education Update

Today, following the successful passage of the regulations for the introduction of Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education, Government has published the final accompanying statutory guidance.

At the heart of preparing children for life in modern Britain is making sure that they understand the world they are growing up in. It is 19 years since the Sex and Relationships guidance was last updated. For children and young people, the challenges that they face today are very different. Children are encountering a more interconnected and interdependent world, and this has changed significantly how they build relationships, interact with their peers and manage their own mental and physical wellbeing.

This presents both opportunities and risks, as children have greater exposure to information, content and people that can and do cause harm. There is little distinction for many young people between their lives online and off, and that is why we believe now more than ever, that we need to provide young people with the knowledge they need in every context to lead safe, happy and healthy lives.

We have therefore brought forward measures requiring the introduction of compulsory Relationships Education for all pupils in primary schools, compulsory Relationships and Sex Education for all pupils in secondary schools, and compulsory Health Education for all pupils in state-funded schools from September 2020.

With cross-party support, the regulations for these subjects were approved by both Houses of Parliament and were made by the Secretary of State on 9th May. The statutory guidance published today sets out the legal duties with which schools must comply, the required core teaching content for the subjects, and guidance on how the content should be delivered in an age appropriate way.

We will be setting out further details on how we will support schools to introduce the new subjects in September 2020. This will include working closely with the many schools who are choosing to begin teaching the subjects from September 2019, so that we can support their journey, learn lessons and share good practice.

We will also be convening a new working group, who will provide insight into how the new guidance is working in practice. This group, with representatives from teaching unions, sector experts, faith and minority groups, parents and young people, will provide us with evidence and feedback to improve the delivery of these subjects.

We believe that these subjects are an historic step in education that will help equip children and young people with the knowledge and support they need to form healthy relationships, lead healthy lives and be happy and safe in the world today.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1619
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 25 February 2019
Made by: Mr Damian Hinds (The Secretary of State for Education)
Commons

Education Update

Today, the Secretary of State for Education, will provide a statement to the House, updating on the Government’s proposals for the draft regulations and guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Health Education following public consultation. The draft guidance and other materials will be published on gov.uk following the statement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1322
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 25 February 2019
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Education Update

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Damian Hinds) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Today, the Secretary of State for Education, will provide a statement to the House, updating on the Government’s proposals for the draft regulations and guidance for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Health Education following public consultation. The draft guidance and other materials will be published on gov.uk following the statement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1356
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 20 November 2018
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Written Ministerial Statement for Universal Children’s Day

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families (Nadhim Zahawi) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Today is Universal Children’s Day, a day that marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The UK is a proud and long-standing signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and this Government remains fully committed to the promotion and safeguarding of children’s rights.

The UNCRC sets out an enduring vision for all children to grow up in a loving, safe and happy environment where they can develop their full potential, regardless of their background. This Government shares that vision and is dedicated to providing the best possible opportunities for all children but especially those who have the hardest start in life.

It has now been over 2 years since the UN scrutinised the UK’s progress in implementing the UNCRC and published their Concluding Observations. Since the last report, the UK Government has continued to raise its ambitions for all children and has made concrete progress in making sure that all children have the opportunity to thrive and develop.

For example, my Department has:

  • Strengthened the quality and range of support for society’s most vulnerable children through the Children and Social Work Act 2017;
  • Revised the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidance to better safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • Improved support for children’s mental health in schools; and,
  • We are making Relationships and Sex Education compulsory for all secondary school pupils so that young people learn what healthy, safe and respectful relationships look like.

We, as parliamentarians, all play a role in building a fairer society where children can lead happy lives and fulfil their potential. I urge all Government Departments to consider what more you can do to make sure your policies promote the best interests of the child. To help Government Departments to do this, we are proud to be launching a comprehensive children’s rights training package across Government today, which has been developed with the support of children’s rights experts. I strongly encourage my ministerial colleagues to encourage the civil servants in their Departments to take up this training so that children’s rights are further embedded in policy and law making.

In 2010, the UK Government made a commitment to give due consideration to the UNCRC when making policy and legislation. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, I would like to reaffirm the value that this Government places on the UNCRC and our ongoing commitment to give due consideration to the UNCRC when making policy and legislation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1093
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 20 November 2018
Made by: Nadhim Zahawi (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Written Ministerial Statement for Universal Children’s Day

Today is Universal Children’s Day, a day that marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The UK is a proud and long-standing signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and this Government remains fully committed to the promotion and safeguarding of children’s rights.

The UNCRC sets out an enduring vision for all children to grow up in a loving, safe and happy environment where they can develop their full potential, regardless of their background. This Government shares that vision and is dedicated to providing the best possible opportunities for all children but especially those who have the hardest start in life.

It has now been over 2 years since the UN scrutinised the UK’s progress in implementing the UNCRC and published their Concluding Observations. Since the last report, the UK Government has continued to raise its ambitions for all children and has made concrete progress in making sure that all children have the opportunity to thrive and develop.

For example, my Department has:

  • Strengthened the quality and range of support for society’s most vulnerable children through the Children and Social Work Act 2017;
  • Revised the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidance to better safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • Improved support for children’s mental health in schools; and,
  • We are making Relationships and Sex Education compulsory for all secondary school pupils so that young people learn what healthy, safe and respectful relationships look like.

We, as parliamentarians, all play a role in building a fairer society where children can lead happy lives and fulfil their potential. I urge all Government Departments to consider what more you can do to make sure your policies promote the best interests of the child. To help Government Departments to do this, we are proud to be launching a comprehensive children’s rights training package across Government today, which has been developed with the support of children’s rights experts. I strongly encourage my ministerial colleagues to encourage the civil servants in their Departments to take up this training so that children’s rights are further embedded in policy and law making.

In 2010, the UK Government made a commitment to give due consideration to the UNCRC when making policy and legislation. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, I would like to reaffirm the value that this Government places on the UNCRC and our ongoing commitment to give due consideration to the UNCRC when making policy and legislation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1064
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 19 July 2018
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Relationships and Sex Education

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Damian Hinds) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Children and young people today are growing up in an increasingly complex world and living their lives seamlessly on and offline. This presents many positive and exciting opportunities, but also challenges and risks. In this environment, children and young people need to know how to be safe and healthy, and how to manage their lives in a positive way. Ensuring children and young people have this knowledge contributes to Government’s effort to eradicate problems like sexual harassment and violence.

We have engaged thoroughly with a wide range of organisations, supported by experienced head teacher Ian Bauckham CBE. Between November 2017 and March 2018, Ian led a wide-ranging stakeholder engagement process with many experts. In addition, the department launched a call for evidence to seek public views from adults and young people– over 23,000 people responded and the level of consensus has been encouraging. We are pleased today to be able to announce the key decisions and launch a consultation on the detail of the regulations and guidance.

For Relationships Education and RSE, the aim is to put in place the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships of all kinds, starting with the family and friends, and moving out to other kinds of relationships, including online. It is essential that we ensure young people can keep themselves safe online, from the basics of who and what to trust and how personal information is used, through to how to ensure online relationships are healthy and safe.

A guiding principle is that teaching will start from the basis that children and young people, at age appropriate points, need to know the laws relating to relationships and sex that govern society to ensure they act appropriately and can be safe. This includes LGBT, which is a strong feature of the new subjects at age appropriate points. The draft guidance sets out core required content, but leaves flexibility for schools to design a curriculum that builds on this and is right for their pupils, bearing in mind their age and religious backgrounds. It enables schools with a religious character to deliver and expand on the core content by reflecting the teachings of their faith.

We are also proposing to introduce compulsory content on Health Education. This supports the findings from the call for evidence and engagement process, where giving children and young people the information they need to make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing – particularly their mental wellbeing - was a priority. This directly supports the Green Paper published jointly by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care on children and young people’s mental health, as well as our manifesto commitment to ensure all young people are taught about mental wellbeing. The focus on physical health also supports Government’s activity to tackle childhood obesity.

Financial education is already in the curriculum, in maths and citizenship, and careers education is an important part of our Careers Strategy. For these reasons, we do not consider that economic education should be made compulsory. We are committed, however, to improving provision of financial and careers education and will work with stakeholders to do so.

We know that many schools successfully cover this content in a broader PSHE programme. They should continue to do so, adapting their programme to the new requirements rather than starting from scratch. Schools are also free to develop alternative, innovative ways to ensure that pupils receive this education and we want good practice to be shared so that all schools can benefit.

We have previously committed to parents having a right to withdraw their children from sex education in RSE, but not relationships education in primary or secondary. A right for parents to withdraw their child up to 18 years of age is no longer compatible with English case law or the European Convention on Human Rights. It is also clear that allowing parents to withdraw their child up to age 16 would not allow the child to opt in to sex education before the legal age of consent.

We therefore propose to give parents the right to request their child be withdrawn from sex education delivered as part of RSE. The draft guidance sets out that unless there are exceptional circumstances, the parents’ request should be granted until three terms before the pupil turns 16. At that point, if the child wishes to have sex education, the head teacher should ensure they receive it in one of those terms. This preserves the parental right in most cases, but also balances it with the child’s right to opt in to sex education when they are competent to do so.

This is a very important change to the curriculum that has to be delivered well, and whilst many schools will be able to quickly adapt their existing teaching it is essential that those schools that need more time to plan and prepare their staff get that time. It is our intention that as many schools as possible will start teaching the subjects from September 2019. We will be working with those schools, as well as with MATs, dioceses and education unions, to help them to do so. All schools will be required to teach the new subjects from September 2020. This is in line with the department’s approach to any significant changes to the curriculum and will enable us to learn lessons from the early adopter schools and share good practice across the sector. We will be seeking views through the consultation to test the right focus for a school support package as we know that it is crucial for schools and teachers to be confident and well-prepared.

We are keen to hear as many views as possible through the consultation, which will be open until early November, and the final regulations will be laid in both Houses, allowing for a full and considered debate. There was strong cross-party support for the introduction of these subjects we are confident that we can continue to work together on this important reform. We believe that our proposals are an historic step in education that will equip children and young people with the knowledge and support they need to form healthy relationships, lead healthy lives and be safe and happy in modern Britain.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS892
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 19 July 2018
Made by: Mr Damian Hinds (The Secretary of State for Education)
Commons

Relationships and Sex Education

Children and young people today are growing up in an increasingly complex world and living their lives seamlessly on and offline. This presents many positive and exciting opportunities, but also challenges and risks. In this environment, children and young people need to know how to be safe and healthy, and how to manage their lives in a positive way. Ensuring children and young people have this knowledge contributes to Government’s effort to eradicate problems like sexual harassment and violence.

We have engaged thoroughly with a wide range of organisations, supported by experienced head teacher Ian Bauckham CBE. Between November 2017 and March 2018, Ian led a wide-ranging stakeholder engagement process with many experts. In addition, the department launched a call for evidence to seek public views from adults and young people– over 23,000 people responded and the level of consensus has been encouraging. We are pleased today to be able to announce the key decisions and launch a consultation on the detail of the regulations and guidance.

For Relationships Education and RSE, the aim is to put in place the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships of all kinds, starting with the family and friends, and moving out to other kinds of relationships, including online. It is essential that we ensure young people can keep themselves safe online, from the basics of who and what to trust and how personal information is used, through to how to ensure online relationships are healthy and safe.

A guiding principle is that teaching will start from the basis that children and young people, at age appropriate points, need to know the laws relating to relationships and sex that govern society to ensure they act appropriately and can be safe. This includes LGBT, which is a strong feature of the new subjects at age appropriate points. The draft guidance sets out core required content, but leaves flexibility for schools to design a curriculum that builds on this and is right for their pupils, bearing in mind their age and religious backgrounds. It enables schools with a religious character to deliver and expand on the core content by reflecting the teachings of their faith.

We are also proposing to introduce compulsory content on Health Education. This supports the findings from the call for evidence and engagement process, where giving children and young people the information they need to make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing – particularly their mental wellbeing - was a priority. This directly supports the Green Paper published jointly by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care on children and young people’s mental health, as well as our manifesto commitment to ensure all young people are taught about mental wellbeing. The focus on physical health also supports Government’s activity to tackle childhood obesity.

Financial education is already in the curriculum, in maths and citizenship, and careers education is an important part of our Careers Strategy. For these reasons, we do not consider that economic education should be made compulsory. We are committed, however, to improving provision of financial and careers education and will work with stakeholders to do so.

We know that many schools successfully cover this content in a broader PSHE programme. They should continue to do so, adapting their programme to the new requirements rather than starting from scratch. Schools are also free to develop alternative, innovative ways to ensure that pupils receive this education and we want good practice to be shared so that all schools can benefit.

We have previously committed to parents having a right to withdraw their children from sex education in RSE, but not relationships education in primary or secondary. A right for parents to withdraw their child up to 18 years of age is no longer compatible with English case law or the European Convention on Human Rights. It is also clear that allowing parents to withdraw their child up to age 16 would not allow the child to opt in to sex education before the legal age of consent.

We therefore propose to give parents the right to request their child be withdrawn from sex education delivered as part of RSE. The draft guidance sets out that unless there are exceptional circumstances, the parents’ request should be granted until three terms before the pupil turns 16. At that point, if the child wishes to have sex education, the head teacher should ensure they receive it in one of those terms. This preserves the parental right in most cases, but also balances it with the child’s right to opt in to sex education when they are competent to do so.

This is a very important change to the curriculum that has to be delivered well, and whilst many schools will be able to quickly adapt their existing teaching it is essential that those schools that need more time to plan and prepare their staff get that time. It is our intention that as many schools as possible will start teaching the subjects from September 2019. We will be working with those schools, as well as with MATs, dioceses and education unions, to help them to do so. All schools will be required to teach the new subjects from September 2020. This is in line with the department’s approach to any significant changes to the curriculum and will enable us to learn lessons from the early adopter schools and share good practice across the sector. We will be seeking views through the consultation to test the right focus for a school support package as we know that it is crucial for schools and teachers to be confident and well-prepared.

We are keen to hear as many views as possible through the consultation, which will be open until early November, and the final regulations will be laid in both Houses, allowing for a full and considered debate. There was strong cross-party support for the introduction of these subjects we are confident that we can continue to work together on this important reform. We believe that our proposals are an historic step in education that will equip children and young people with the knowledge and support they need to form healthy relationships, lead healthy lives and be safe and happy in modern Britain.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS864
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 19 December 2017
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Update on Relationships, and Sex, Education

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Justine Greening) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Through the Children and Social Work Act 2017 we legislated to place a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to make regulations requiring:

  • All schools providing primary education in England to teach age-appropriate ‘relationships education’ to pupils receiving primary education; and

  • All schools providing secondary education in England to teach age-appropriate ‘relationships and sex education’ to pupils receiving secondary education.

The Act also created a power for the Government to make regulations requiring personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) to be taught in all schools. It is already compulsory in all independent schools.

I am today launching a call for evidence to gather the views of teachers, parents, and most importantly, young people to help us shape relationships education in primary school and relationships and sex education in secondary school. Our aim is to help our young people to stay safe and be better prepared to face the challenges of the modern world.

The current statutory guidance for teaching relationships and sex education was last set in 2000. It needs updating to reflect today’s world as it does not address risks to children that have emerged over the last 17 years, including cyber bullying, ‘sexting’ and staying safe online. The call for evidence will invite views on age-appropriate content that builds young people’s knowledge and understanding over time, including:

  • how to recognise, understand and build healthy relationships, including self-respect and respect for others, commitment, boundaries and consent, tolerance, and how to manage conflict, and also how to recognise unhealthy relationships, addressing issues such as bullying, coercion and exploitation;

  • understanding different types of relationships, including friendships, family relationships, dealing with strangers and, at secondary school, intimate relationships;

  • safety online, including use of social media, cyberbullying, sexting; and,

  • how relationships may affect health and wellbeing, including the importance of good mental health and resilience.

Schools will continue to have flexibility over how they teach these subjects so that they can ensure their approach is sensitive to the needs of their pupils and, in the case of faith schools, in accordance with the tenets of their faith. Schools will ensure that parents are fully consulted on their approach. As now, primary schools do not have to teach sex education and the Government has no proposal to change this, but if primary schools do choose to teach sex education, parents will be able to withdraw their children from these lessons.

We are also seeking views on the future of PSHE. The call for evidence will close on 12 February 2018. It forms part of the wider engagement process we are conducting with the education sector and other experts to inform the development of these subjects. The engagement process, supported by our education adviser, executive headteacher Ian Bauckham CBE, will be followed by a formal consultation on draft regulations and guidance before regulations are laid in the House for debate.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS373
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 19 December 2017
Made by: Justine Greening (The Secretary of State for Education )
Commons

Update on Relationships, and Sex, Education

Through the Children and Social Work Act 2017 we legislated to place a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to make regulations requiring:

  • All schools providing primary education in England to teach age-appropriate ‘relationships education’ to pupils receiving primary education; and

  • All schools providing secondary education in England to teach age-appropriate ‘relationships and sex education’ to pupils receiving secondary education.

The Act also created a power for the Government to make regulations requiring personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) to be taught in all schools. It is already compulsory in all independent schools.

I am today launching a call for evidence to gather the views of teachers, parents, and most importantly, young people to help us shape relationships education in primary school and relationships and sex education in secondary school. Our aim is to help our young people to stay safe and be better prepared to face the challenges of the modern world.

The current statutory guidance for teaching relationships and sex education was last set in 2000. It needs updating to reflect today’s world as it does not address risks to children that have emerged over the last 17 years, including cyber bullying, ‘sexting’ and staying safe online. The call for evidence will invite views on age-appropriate content that builds young people’s knowledge and understanding over time, including:

  • how to recognise, understand and build healthy relationships, including self-respect and respect for others, commitment, boundaries and consent, tolerance, and how to manage conflict, and also how to recognise unhealthy relationships, addressing issues such as bullying, coercion and exploitation;

  • understanding different types of relationships, including friendships, family relationships, dealing with strangers and, at secondary school, intimate relationships;

  • safety online, including use of social media, cyberbullying, sexting; and,

  • how relationships may affect health and wellbeing, including the importance of good mental health and resilience.

Schools will continue to have flexibility over how they teach these subjects so that they can ensure their approach is sensitive to the needs of their pupils and, in the case of faith schools, in accordance with the tenets of their faith. Schools will ensure that parents are fully consulted on their approach. As now, primary schools do not have to teach sex education and the Government has no proposal to change this, but if primary schools do choose to teach sex education, parents will be able to withdraw their children from these lessons.

We are also seeking views on the future of PSHE. The call for evidence will close on 12 February 2018. It forms part of the wider engagement process we are conducting with the education sector and other experts to inform the development of these subjects. The engagement process, supported by our education adviser, executive headteacher Ian Bauckham CBE, will be followed by a formal consultation on draft regulations and guidance before regulations are laid in the House for debate.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS367
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