Consultations, Focus of the Week

RSE – just a few days left

Relationships Education and Parental Freedoms – Consultation Ends February 12th

There is a new law coming into force in September 2019.

All schools will have to teach Relationships Education in Primary Schools; and Relationships & Sex Education (RSE) in Secondary schools. No school – academy, free, independent – will be exempt.

The Department of Education has issued a Call for Evidence that closes on February 12th 2018 at 11.59pm, ie midnight. There will be further consultations before full departmental guidance issued. The Law itself was passed last March 2017.

Many are concerned: will ideas about relationships–particularly in relation to two prominent issues of the day and recent times: same-sex relations including same-sex marriage, and transgender issues–that contravene the religious and moral views of many parents be taught in schools? The signs have not been good in recent years with Ofsted apparently failing schools if they do not “prepare pupils for life in modern Britain” that explicitly or implicitly requires pupils knowing about these issues in a way that legitimises them?

It is important parents and teachers and governors of schools and administrators react to this call for evidence. There are 7 questions for which only 250 words may be offered as comments. Many organisations from all sides have set out their views. They can be read on relevant websites.

But what does it mean for parents? Will they still have power over their children’s education in order that their fundamental legal right to ensure…education and teaching (is) in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions is still operative?

Well, it is very interesting to read what the actual text of the Call for Evidence states:

As is already the case where sex education is currently mandatory, schools will also have flexibility over how they teach these subjects so that they can ensure their approach is sensitive to the needs of their pupils and, in the case of faith schools, in accordance with the tenets of their faith. The subjects must be age-appropriate and schools will engage with parents on their approach. Parents will have a right to withdraw their child from sex education in RSE in secondary school. If a primary school chooses to teach sex education, parents will be able to withdraw their child.

Parents’ rights it appears are assured. BUT there is no right to withdraw your child from RLE in primary schools. It might be wondered if the government has learned from history. One might legislate now for compulsory education in relationships, thinking all your best ideas are put before children. But what happens if a government changes, and an ideology is to be enforced that you might not like so much? If there is no opt-out, where will resistance go? Compulsory teaching of values has been the high-road to tyranny in recent times. Is this a wise move? Can you legislate over relationships? Well, we will see. But google “relationship education call for evidence”. The document is not long. Think what you think. Express your opinion. Reply by February 12th 11.59pm ie before midnight. You as parents are still the first and foremost educators of your children with that right still enshrined in law.

Edmund Matyjaszek, Principal, Priory School of Our Lady of Walsingham

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