Thursday 7 July 2011

Parents furious as schools minister gives green light to explicit sex ed in science lessons

Parents of primary-school children from across the country are furious that Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has told Parliament that schools can teach children, including in primary school, about sex in science lessons (see  below).

Science is a national curriculum subject and therefore parents are not allowed to withdraw their children from science lessons. By contrast, when sex education lessons are given in personal, health, social and economic (PHSE), parents have a legal right to withdraw their children if such lessons are unacceptable to them. PHSE is not part currently of the national curriculum.

Ruth Pond, a mother of two from Worksop, Notts., has been campaigning locally to expose the sexually-explicit classroom teaching programme “Living and Growing”. The most widely-used primary-school sex education resource, it contains graphic material, aimed at children aged seven, which illustrates exactly how to perform sexual intercourse.

Mrs Pond told the media earlier today:
“I am very concerned that sex education can now be taught in science lessons.  Does this mean that the law regarding the national curriculum will be changed to allow parents to withdraw their children from sex education that is too graphic? Otherwise it makes it impossible for parents to protect their children."
Tower Hamlets local authority has already issued a statement saying that parents can withdraw their children from national curriculum science, although there’s no evidence that the Department for Education has approved this. Local parents are still not happy.

Eneque Charles, a mother of three children at Clara Grant primary school in Tower Hamlets, said:
“I have been battling with my children’s school for months because of the 'Living and Growing' DVD. My son was shown a cartoon of a couple having sexual intercourse in his science lesson and I was powerless to shield him from this. The school has now said it will change the materials it is using. But I’m still not confident that I will be able to spare my daughter from seeing explicit sex scenes, despite what Tower Hamlets local authority has said.” 
Mrs Charles and Antonia Tully of SPUC's Safe at School campaign were interviewed yesterday regarding 'Living and Growing' on BBC London radio . Antonia was also interviewed on BBC London TV .

House of Commons written answers, 6 July 2011

Health education: sex

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will take steps to ensure that maintained schools are prevented from teaching aspects of sex and relationships education in science lessons that are not covered by the national curriculum for science as part of his Department's review of personal, social, health and economic education. [63908]

Mr Gibb [holding answer 5 July 2011]:We trust teachers to use their professional judgement when following the national curriculum programmes of study for science. We do not therefore consider it necessary to impose preventative measures on maintained schools to stop them teaching sex and relationship education (SRE) within national curriculum science lessons. SRE is covered in personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education which will be subject to an internal review.

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