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Female Genital Mutilation

Volume 477: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) is planning to take, to educate education professionals on female genital mutilation. (211066)

The Government aim to raise education professionals' awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM), particularly if they work within communities where this practice may once have been adopted. Education professionals may refer to the investigating agencies in the same way they would for any type of abuse. The Professional Standards for Teachers require that anyone who is teaching, or training to teach, must be aware of current legal requirements, national policies and guidance on the safeguarding and promotion of the well-being of children; also that they know how to identify and support children and young people whose progress, development or well-being is affected by changes or difficulties in their personal circumstances, and when to refer them to colleagues for specialist support.

Local authorities may exercise their powers under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 if they believe that a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, FGM.

“Working Together to Safeguard Children” (April 2006), the main inter-agency guide to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, contains information about FGM. This guidance explains what is meant by FGM, makes clear that it is a criminal offence, and describes the signs that may indicate that a child is being prepared for FGM.

“Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education” came into force in January 2007 and is aimed specifically at the education sector. It also contains guidance about FGM and signposts further sources of information available on the Department's Teachernet website.