HC Deb 10 November 2000 vol 356 cc434-5W
Dr. Julian Lewis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what obligations in respect of impartiality schools are required to observe when allowing politicians to discuss politically controversial subjects with pupils. [136237]

Jacqui Smith

We regard it as valuable that Members of Parliament and local councillors take an interest in education and look for opportunities to visit schools and meet pupils. From 2002 Citizenship will become a statutory subject in secondary schools, and this will require all pupils to be taught about parliamentary government and the democratic process. Open and informed debate about current issues is, of course, vital for a healthy democracy.

There are, however, legal safeguards in place to protect against attempts at political indoctrination. Section 407 of the Education Act 1996 requires teachers to take all reasonably practical steps to ensure that, where political or controversial issues are brought to pupils' attention, they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.