What steps is the Minister taking to teach children that FGM is a criminal offence and the damage it causes?
Statutory guidance Keeping learners safe has been issued to all schools and highlights the important role that schools can play in identifying potential victims and safeguarding them from FGM. The guidance is in place to support schools and education services in ensuring that child welfare concerns are acted upon appropriately and effectively, involving investigating agencies where necessary. We are currently consulting on an updated version of this guidance: https://gov.wales/keeping-learners-safe-guidance
The Welsh Government has also produced a range of materials and guidance available on Hwb to support schools in managing child protection issues.
Further to this, I wrote to all schools in July 2017 about the risks of FGM, reminding them of the need to be vigilant where learners might be at risk, or victims, of FGM, and of schools’ responsibilities to report actual cases or suspicions of FGM.
Within the existing school curriculum, issues relating to tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) - including FGM - are covered within Sex and Relationships Education (SRE).
In the new curriculum currently in development (Curriculum for Wales 2022), SRE will be renamed as Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE), and will be made a statutory part of the new curriculum for all learners from the age of 3-16. The new curriculum will include a specific Health and Well-being Area of Learning and Experience, providing an inter-disciplinary approach to learning about factors that can affect learners’ well-being, such as relationships, physical and mental health, and sexual health.
Following a recent consultation the Welsh Government is updating curriculum guidance on RSE, focused on providing teachers and school staff with practical support to build high-quality provision of RSE, as part of a whole-school approach. This will include signposting for practitioners to access further sources of advice and support on areas such as FGM.
The VAWDASV Spectrum Project funded by the Welsh Government also provides workshops for both primary and secondary schools and promotes the importance of healthy relationships, while raising the awareness of children and young people on issues relating to addressing domestic abuse, sexual violence and violence against women.
The project provides information on where young people can access help and support, both inside and outside of school, including signposting to specialist organisations. It also delivers training for school staff and governors about understanding the impact of topics such as FGM on a child, and raises awareness by looking at whole-school approaches to addressing issues.
The Welsh Government jointly chairs the All-Wales Honour-based Violence (HBV) Leadership Group, together with Black Association of Women Step Out and the Crown Prosecution Service. This Group, which includes representation from my Department, reviews actions in relation to HBV incidents and crimes that include specific types of offences such as FGM.
The All-Wales Honour-based Violence Delivery Plan sets out the framework for key partners to contribute to tackling this issue in Wales, while providing the best possible support to survivors.