HC Deb 01 November 2000 vol 355 cc483-4W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what guidance is issued to schools about the approach towards sexual relationships between pupils aged(a) under 16 years and (b) 16 years or above. [134718]

Jacqui Smith

Sexual relationships involving children under 16 are a criminal offence. Our recently published Sex and Relationship Education guidance sets out the procedure teachers should follow if they become aware that a child under the age of 16 is having, or contemplating having, sex. Our guidance also explains the benefits of and the reasons for young people delaying sexual activity, and this is backed up by our campaign to reduce teenage pregnancies.

Dr. Julian Lewis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what his Department's policy is towards sexual relationships discovered between teaching staff and schoolchildren aged 16 years or above. [134938]

Ms Estelle Morris

A sexual relationship between a teacher and a pupil is a very grave breach of trust regardless of whether the pupil is aged 16 or above. It is regarded as misconduct, and is grounds for disciplinary action, including dismissal, by employers. Such cases are also reported to my Department so that the Secretary of State can consider exercising his powers under the Education (Restriction of Employment) Regulations 2000 to bar the person from further employment as a teacher, or other work involving regular contact with children or young people in the education service.

Under the proposals in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, it would become a criminal offence for a person aged 18 or over who is looking after children under 18 receiving full-time education at an educational institution to engage in any sexual activity with a child receiving such education at that institution. The Bill is currently before the House of Lords.