The debate over government attitudes to children’s education grows, as MPs and campaigners highlight RSE concerns and the importance of family
The children’s commissioner for England has called for people to, “be more vocal about the importance of families.”
Dame Rachel de Souza stressed the significance of families during an address on Wednesday at the Catholic Union’s annual Craigmyle Lecture. She emphasised that families are a powerful and transformative institution for children, even more so than schools.
Dame de Souza expressed concern that the government often views families through the lens of challenges rather than recognizing their inherent strength.
Speaking to her own experiences in her role, she said: “Over the years I have come to believe there is one institution more powerful, more important, more transformational for children than a school–and that is the family.”
Discussing the impact of lockdowns, she highlighted key statistics from her research project, the ‘Family Review,’ which showed that 78 percent of children surveyed would turn to their families first for help.
Families The ‘Fabric Of Healthy Society’
Dame de Souza stated, “Strong families are the fabric of any healthy society … ”
She added that, “the government tends to see families for the collection of challenges they face, rather than the innate power they hold.”
Dame de Souza announced the launch of the “Big Ambition,” a major survey of young people in England, during the lecture. This follow up to her previous initiatives will seek to give children a voice across schools and communities.
During her speech, she also called on the British policy makers to look to the Hungarian family policy and tax model as a pathway for potential future success.
She acknowledged the crucial role of the Church and faith-based communities in children’s lives, commending the Catholic Union for contributing to the defence of the common good and national discourse.
This comes as Andrew Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire, yesterday accused the prime minister of failing to protect children from age-inappropriate relationships and sex education (RSE) and gender ideology indoctrination.
Speaking in the Commons, he expressed concern over the government’s refusal to make the findings of an independent review into relationship and sex education in schools public, questioning their motives.
Prime Minister ‘Failed To Protect Children’
Mr. Bridgen said: “Despite repeated assurances given in this chamber, and to his own backbenchers, the prime minister has failed to protect our children from age inappropriate sex education.”
He also pointed out that perceived “indoctrination” with gender ideology could lead to a “corrosive effect.”
Mr. Bridgen claimed that the Secretary of State for Education had “refused to make public” recent findings from an independent review into RSE in schools.
He suggested the government may be “running scared” from “the legitimate concern and the anger of millions of parents and grandparents.”
Mr. Bridgen called for an urgent statement by the secretary of state for Education in the House of Commons, emphasising the need for transparency and accountability on such issues.
In response, the Leader of the House offered to write to the secretary of state for education regarding Andrew Bridgen’s concerns and questions.
Northern Ireland Tension
The day before the protest, DUP MPs had issued a warning to UK ministers against intervening in children’s education, criticising recent updates to sex education in Northern Ireland.
Mrs. Lockhart emphasised the importance of respecting parents’ roles as primary educators and criticised the lack of consultation with parents, teachers, and boards of governors regarding the changes to relationships and sex education (RSE) teaching in post-primary Northern Ireland.