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Warwickshire Climbdown

In the Darkness, a Ray of Light – But let’s Pray it’s not a False Dawn

On Easter Sunday, which some might regard as auspicious, the Birmingham Mail carried a report that Warwickshire County Council has dropped All About Me – a highly controversial sex education programme for primary schools that has been criticised for its explicit teaching on sexuality, masturbation and pornography, together with its promotion of gender fluidity (https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/council-axes-controversial-sex-programme-18081206 ).

It will be remembered that the last eighteen months have seen unprecedented protests outside schools in Birmingham, where parents, predominantly Muslim, gathered to complain about their children being subjected to the promotion and normalisation of LGBT life-style choices. This was mandated, activists claimed, by the new RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) Regulations. But such teaching, the parents argued, was prematurely sexualising children, was contrary to their faith, and was a violation of their right to have children educated in line with their religious belief.

Their concerns were shared by other parents throughout the country, who, though perhaps less vocal, were equally disturbed. And it would seem the protests have had an effect, because the highly contentious All About Meprogramme has been quietly axed. According to Warwickshire Council the programme will now be replaced with an “information and signposting offer to schools”, that will follow the Department for Education’s new national materials and resources on sex education, currently under development.

The withdrawal of this pernicious and damaging programme aimed at destroying childhood innocence is to be welcomed, but the wording does not inspire confidence. The battle is not over.

Under the Regulations, schools must have a written policy for Relationships Education, and Relationships and Sex Education, which must be drawn up in consultation with parents. A written copy of that policy must be available to parents and others free of charge, on request, and should also be available online on the school website. Schools are also required to make copies of any resources they plan to use available for inspection. In the more recently issued Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education: FAQs, it’s also stated that, “In all schools, when teaching these subjects, the religious background of pupils must be taken into account when planning teaching, so that topics are appropriately handled. Schools with a religious character can build on the core required content by reflecting their beliefs in their teaching.” (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education-faqs).

The new Regulations are set to become compulsory from September this year. However, as a result of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis entailing the closure of schools till further notice, the required consultation with parents has been prevented. It is therefore essential that the implementation of the Regulations be postponed until such time as there has been adequate opportunity for proper consultation and review. Please sign our petition and write to your MP, calling for immediate postponement of their implementation.

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