Public sector FGM training

One of the many pressures of teaching is to be able to identify and get the correct support for children considered ‘at risk’. One of those situations is Female Genital Mutilation. At a conference earlier this year, the Association for Teachers and Lecturers reported that teachers need more training to help them identify and protect girls at risk. Possible symptoms identified include frequent toilet trips and girls in pain.

Well 3 months later, at a London summit this week, Nick Clegg will announce a package including extra training for public sector workers in FGM. New guidance about the practice will be part of compulsory training in public sector organisations.

Advice about FGM is already issued to many staff but professional bodies have called for a different approach.

The partial or total removal of external female genitalia is illegal in the UK but the practice occurs in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Mr Clegg will tell the Girl Summit being hosted by the government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef): “Without the right knowledge, skills and experience, people feel like they don’t have the cultural understanding and authority to even talk about this practice honestly, never mind intervene when they’re worried someone is vulnerable.”

He will say: “Female genital mutilation is one of the oldest and the most extreme ways in which societies have sought to control the lives and bodies of generations of young women and girls. We’re currently failing thousands of girls… central to tackling it are the doctors, nurses, teachers and legal professionals who need to be equipped to identify and support young women and girls at risk.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Controlling the lives and bodies of young women and girls through FGM has no place in modern Britain. The RCN has worked with the government on the development of training and guidance to help equip frontline staff with the skills they need to tackle this most sensitive of issues.”

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, welcomed the government plans but said they had to be backed up with “resources and commitment” to ensure staff have access to the training.

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