Schools in England have been reminded that there is an expectation upon them to teach children and young people the importance of marriage to society.
During a recent session in the House of Lords on the subject of National Marriage Week, Government whip Baroness Scott of Bybrook was asked whether the Government believes enough is being done to inform young people about marriage.
She responded that in primary schools pupils should be taught that marriage is “a formal and legally recognised commitment” that is “intended to be lifelong”, and that in secondary schools “we build on the teaching about that important relationship and the opportunity that marriage provides”.
‘No plans’ to recognise marriage
The Government has not marked National Marriage Week since 2011, but Lady Scott said it does “recognise the role that marriage can play as the basis for family life”.
She added: “The public sector equality duty requires us to pay due respect to the impact of policy and decisions on different people, including those who are married or in civil partnerships.
“The family test helps ensure that policy decisions take into consideration impacts on family relationships and functioning, including for people who are married.”
The Christian Institute’s Education Officer John Denning said: “The objective evidence that children growing up with their married mum and dad do best is overwhelming.
“And it’s not just a little bit better – the difference is dramatic and extends to education, non-involvement in crime, health and employment. And it remains clear even when other factors such as household income are adjusted for.
“When schools are teaching children about relationships, they must not deny them knowledge of these facts, which underpin some of the most important decisions they will make in their lives.”
Engaging with schools
Mr Denning also explained the laws surrounding the teaching of marriage elsewhere in the UK, saying: “Schools in England are legally required to teach pupils the nature of marriage and civil partnership and their importance for family life and the bringing up of children. A similar legal requirement is shortly to be removed in Wales because of Kirsty Williams’s Curriculum and Assessment Act, but there are still good reasons for schools to teach it.
“Statutory guidance on RSHP in Scotland states: ‘Children and young people should also be encouraged to understand the value of love and commitment in relationships and partnerships, including marriage and civil partnership.’
The Christian Institute can provide assistance
“In Northern Ireland, official guidance recommends ‘Both boys and girls should learn about pregnancy and parenting, the complexities of bringing up a child and the implications for their own lives. They should also be aware of the advantages of bringing up a child within a stable, healthy relationship or marriage.’
“If this isn’t happening, parents can raise concerns with schools and they will have to comply with the law. Where parents need help with this, The Christian Institute can provide assistance.”
‘Bedrock of society’
Tony Rucinski, of Coalition for Marriage, expressed his disappointment that, while Baroness Scott had given assurances about teaching in schools, so much time was given to promoting different family units.
He said: “When asked whether the Government acknowledged data showing marriage as clearly the best relationship for raising children, the Minister refused. Instead she chose to highlight the ‘numerous other relationships we have in our modern society’.
“Peers recognised UK marriage breakdown levels, and tax burdens, as being higher than other OECD countries. But when asked to look at promoting marriage, by further recognising its unique value through the tax system and supporting family unity not just breakdown, the Government again refused. The only positive assurance given was continued attention to supporting same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.”
He added that data “clearly shows real marriage between one man and one woman is unique, and the stabilising bedrock of society. The Government should stop pandering to a vocal woke minority, and start promoting outcomes that are overwhelmingly best for society in general.”