Saturday 30 January 2010

Catholic bishops of England and Wales have been deceived says former headteacher

In an article in this weekend's Catholic Herald, Eric Hester challenges the Catholic Education Service to a public debate "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."

Eric Hester was a headteacher of Catholic comprehensive and grammar schools for 24 years and has extensive experience of inspecting schools. He writes:
" ... I have been informed by one bishop that they were given assurances by the CES [Catholic Education Service] that governors would have complete control and that there would be no question of any teaching about civil partnerships or information given to pupils about how to obtain contraception and abortion without parental consent.

"It seems as if the bishops have relied entirely on the information of the CES and ignored other advice. They have been deceived ... "
Eric is right. I have frequently posted on the government's plans on sex education and on the Catholic Education Service's betrayal of Catholics and non-Catholics alike - which is why my wife and I will not be giving to the collection in Catholic churches tomorrow in their support. The government has, for example, accepted all the major recommendations of the 2007/2008 report by the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG). The report's major recommendations include that:
"The Government's current review of SRE should ...

* ... [s]tate clearly that all schools including faith schools must teach all aspects of SRE within the context of relationships in an anti-discriminatory way; contraception, abortion and homosexuality are all legal in this country and therefore all children and young people should be able to learn the correct facts
* ... [m]ake explicit links to young people's advisory services and provision of contraception and sexual health services and demonstrate this by teaching young people how to access services".
Eric Hester's article continues:
" ... John Paul II put the rights of parents like this in his Charter of the Rights of the Family: 'Article 5 c. Parents have the right to ensure that their children are not compelled to attend classes which are not in agreement with their own moral and religious convictions. In particular, sex education is a basic right of parent and must always be carried out under their close supervision, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them.'

"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.

"So does the CES claim that it has been given private assurances that all will be well? That was exactly the argument used about gay adoptions, where the Government broke any promises given and which has resulted in the ending of Catholic adoption in England as we used to know it. I further challenge the CES to debate sex education with me, or a better speaker, on behalf of Catholic teaching at a public meeting."
I join Eric Hester in that challenge.

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