Wednesday, 10 February 2010

'Sex Education' tanks lining up outside the garden gate?

Is the Government planning to force conscientious parents, who wish to exercise  their right to withdraw their child from school sex education, to use the same sex education content at home?

 Parents who are considering exercising their right to withdraw their child from SRE will be interested in these chilling statements under para 2.6.1  and para 2.6.2 of the draft  guidance on sex and relationships education (SRE), published by the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF):  (with my emphasis)

"Parents have a legal right to withdraw their children from SRE taught outside of the science national curriculum – but if they choose to withdraw their children from school provision they have a responsibility to provide alternative SRE. The school’s SRE policy should set out clearly how parents are informed of their right of withdrawal from SRE and how the school will support them in fulfilling their responsibility to provide SRE at home."

 "Where parents choose to withdraw their children from SRE schools should discuss the alternative arrangements that parents are making to provide SRE themselves and offer support to parents in fulfilling their responsibility. Schools will need to balance the rights of the parents and the rights of their pupils"  

  The guidance, when it is finalised, will have the status of 'statutory guidance', meaning that headteachers and governing bodies will be required by law to have regard to the guidance.

On the question of the content of SRE, the draft guidance states:

"Schools should make a clear distinction between factual information and views and beliefs."

For some further  background on this, I recommend John Smeaton's excellent analysis of this draft guidance.
As John Smeaton says:

"Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide what is or isn't "statutory content" under the law. However, as the guidance makes clear:

"Head teachers and governing bodies are required by law to have regard to the guidance"
a requirement which is repeated in the government's Children, Schools and Families bill (clause 12). 

Schools will therefore have to prove that what they teach in SRE not only accords with the bill's principles (above) but that they had "regard" to the government's guidance. The guidance is so insistent in its promotion of anti-life/anti-family concepts that it places pro-life/pro-family schools in an almost impossible situation. How will a school which doesn't teach those concepts prove that it upholds the bill's principles, having regard to the guidance? We can expect any such school to be pursued vigorously. By helping draft the guidance and by welcoming it as "a positive step forward", the CES is once again selling Catholic schools down the river."

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