The petition launched by the 3 Dads walking group to get suicide prevention added to the school curriculum has reached more than 150,000 signatures. But how can a petition change the law?
In order to bring in educational reform the motion must go through parliament.
Why does educational reform need to go through parliament?
According to the Education Act 2002, all maintained schools must offer the statutory curriculum. Maintained schools are local authority schools with varying degrees of autonomy dependent on category.
The statutory curriculum currently includes:
The national curriculum (the programme of study for those aged between five and 16)
At primary level, there is teaching on relationships
At secondary level, there is sex and relationships education unless children have been withdrawn
Religious education, unless students have been withdrawn
A House of Commons briefing paper from 2021 says that he curriculum must be, “balanced and broadly based, promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of and prepare pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.”
At academies and free schools, there is much more freedom when it comes to the curriculum though many tend to follow it anyway.
How can academic reform be implemented?
The process would have to go through parliament as our education system is mandated by the government and one way to do this is through a petition.
After creating your petition, you must have five people supporting it and it can then be published online.
The petition must reach two milestones in order to garner attention:
Firstly, at 10,000 signatures which is when your petition can expect a response from the government and secondly, at 100,000 signatures when the petition can be considered for a debate in parliament.
Private Members Bills
Private Members Bills which are introduced by backbench MPs who want to introduce their own bills.
An example of a successful Private Members Bill is The Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021.
The act was introduced in the House of Commons as a Private Member's Bill by Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP for Durham, in February 2020. The bill became law upon gaining royal assent on 29 April 2021.
Amendment to existing bills
Anybody in parliament can table an amendment if it fits broadly within the original scope.
Any MPs or Peers can suggest amendments, you just need to make sure that you secure sufficient support when it comes down to the vote.
How does a bill actually become law?
First reading: The title of the bill is read out and it is ordered to be printed
Second reading: The MPs now have the opportunity to debate the main principles of the bill
Committee stage: The bill is examined by the committee and they are also able to take evidence from external groups and experts
Report stage: The debate continues and further amendments are considered
Third reading: This is the final chance to debate, though no amendments can be made and a vote is taken on whether the third reading is approved
The same process then takes place in the House of Lords
If no amendments are made in the third reading, the bill is given Royal Assent to become law.
Creating a petition
You can create a petition on the UK Government and Parliament site. Only British citizens and UK residents can create a petition.
The petition is checked then published. Petitions are only rejected if they do not meet standard conditions.
British citizens and UK residents can sign your petition — and can only sign a petition once.
The Petitions Committee reviews all petitions published. They select petitions of interest to find out more about the issues raised. They have the power to press for action from government or Parliament.
At 10,000 signatures the petition on the UK Government and Parliament site gets a response from the government.
At 100,000 signatures your petition on the UK Government and Parliament site will be considered for a debate in Parliament.