Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The CES, Eric Hester and that elusive 'assurance' .

Is an assurance given about method.. how to..  the same as an assurance given about content ..?
It appears that Oona Stannard, Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Service of Engand and Wales thinks so.

A little background:
The CES published a 'myth busting' statement on17/12/2009, in which it claimed:

"The proposals announced by Ed Balls today (5th November) confirm that, from September 2011, Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, including Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), will be compulsory in all schools. We welcome the Government's reiteration of its support for the important principles underlining SRE [Sex and Relationship Education], which emphasise that schools continue to have the legal right to determine the content of what is taught in PSHE within their schools and that governing bodies retain the right to determine what is taught, and must determine this in line with the ethos of the school." 

In an article  published in last week's Catholic Herald, Eric Hester laid down the gauntlet:

"I publicly challenge the CES to obtain from any Government Minister a statement that it is true that school governors can "determine the content" of what is taught in sex education and can omit anything that they do not like. Everything the Government has said is to the contrary. Under the Freedom of Education Act I have obtained correspondence between the CES and the Government, where the CES asks for that very assurance and is not given it. "

In her response to  what she describes as 'misleading reports' in the Catholic Herald, Oona Stannard quotes from    the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, who gave this assurance in the House of Commons on 11 January 2010:
“The decision to make sex and relationship education statutory is, I think, supported by all political parties, but it is essential that it is taught in line with the ethos, including the faith, of the school. That is clear in the legislation: it is clear that parents as well as school governors will have a say in how the subject is taught, while there is also a parental opt-out, which will apply to pupils until they are 15. I can thus give the hon. Gentleman the complete assurance that the school will be in charge of how to teach SRE, but the fact of teaching it will be in law and guaranteed to all children."

Surely Oona Stannard, a former HMI, must understand the distinction between 'what is taught' and 'how it is taught'?

1 comment:

  1. She (Oona) in trying to object to the Herald article is also shooting herself in the foot further. She seems to imply that as long as the state endorsed sex education offered is in line with (what at least SHE thinks) is Catholic Church teaching it's fine for it to be compulsory. I think that goes against the parent's absolute right to be the educator of their child on these matters and NOT the school should the parent so wish - this being part of Catholic Church teaching. I'm not sure what planet Oona Stanard is on but it can't take in Catholic Schools in England as there are few that teach aspects of human sexuality in line with Vatican guidelines. I think we also need to question how she thinks any credibility can be given to her arguments when she also endorses the pro abortion Connexions service which seeks to give out contraceptive advice to minors without their parents' knowledge. I write this as one who has direct experience of seeing Connexions in practice. But, perhaps it is not Oona who should be the focus here but the Bishop's who employ her, use funds from us in the pews to pay her when she fails to uphold Church teaching. Sadly, I can only conclude she represents dissenting Bishop's views.