Speaking in advance of the debate the Upper Bann MP said, “The origin of these changes was an overreach by the Secretary of State into devolved policy. The changes related to a sensitive and controversial issue yet were brought forward without any consultation, unlike in England where the public were able to have a say. DUP MPs opposed it, but despite our representations and voting against it in Parliament the Government railroaded the legislation through.
The attitude demonstrated towards the proposals will be carried through into the debate where neither the Secretary of State nor Minister of State will be present to respond.
The current consultation focused on the right to withdraw children from the new content. We want to ensure that this right is respected and is not restricted. There must also be provision for teachers with conscientious objections to ensure they are not faced with the conflict between their personal beliefs and the teaching of an emotive subject.
The teaching of these issues must take account of the ethos and values of the school in question. That ethos should not be dictated to Governors from Belfast, or London. They should have the ability to ensure teaching within the school is in line with its ethos and work with parents to ensure they are informed about the content.
Many of these issues have been exacerbated by the failure to consult during the early part of this process. Our focus is now on the future and to ensure the best outcome for schools, teachers, parents and pupils.”