We need to demonstrate our opposition to compulsory sex education
From Mr Stuart Sexton SIR – We should, I believe, seek to build upon that splendid article by Michael Gove (Comment, February 18).
Of course, I am prejudiced, for I lay claim to formulating and promoting the concept of Grant Maintained (GM) schools when I was the Special Adviser to the then Secretary of State, Keith Joseph. The GM schools showed the great value of giving schools within the state sector the freedom to manage. Keith was a lovely man and I enjoyed working for him, but he was also a very cautious man, too cautious for me. The only mistake he made was not extending GM to far more schools. It was, in effect, a pilot project only.
What Mr Gove has done is to build upon the principle of self-management contained in the Grant Maintained policy and to extend it to every and any school wishing to go down that route. Perhaps a slight genuflection is needed to Tony Blair, who scrapped Grant Maintained, but then invented “academies” to replace them, although he could not bring himself to give his academies as much freedom as the GM schools had had. So, indeed, Catholic schools, and indeed all schools within the state sector, should embrace becoming academies or free schools. Now, however, I want Mr Gove to go further. He said in that article that “Catholic schools can now free themselves from ideological meddling”. But surely all schools within the state sector, and of course independent schools as well, should be free from ideological meddling, even if they are not academies or free schools.
The National Curriculum is obligatory on all state schools, except the academies and free schools. Those schools can ignore the National Curriculum completely, or, better still, pick and choose the best from the National Curriculum. Those not academies, or not yet, have to follow the National Curriculum and I want to point to one aspect of that National Curriculum which should be anathema to all Catholic schools, and indeed to all schools.
I refer to “sex education” or “Sex and Relationships Education” (SRE), as it is now known. The previous Government were going to make sex education a compulsory part of the National Curriculum. Worse still, it was to be their version of SRE, with its emphasis upon contraception and abortion – indeed, put bluntly, to tell children, even primary-aged children, how to “have sex” without having babies. Fortunately the then Conservative Opposition forced them out in the “wash up” of outstanding Bills before the election.
There are still MPs and others, however, who want to make SRE compulsory within the National Curriculum, and who want the horrendous secular version as previously proposed. Furthermore, once a school introduces the secular, immoral approach to sex and relationships, the school nurse with contraceptives and morning-after pills ready to hand quickly follows.
As Mr Gove said, Catholic schools that become academies can free themselves from ideological meddling (no compulsory National Curriculum), but surely all schools need to be protected from such meddling in the form of SRE. To be fair to Mr Gove, he has said that he does not want sex education to be compulsory and he certainly does not want Parliament to set out any particular version of sex education.
What we have to do now is to publicise our oppposition to compulsory sex education, and to the worse forms of such sex education. We need to support Mr Gove in excluding SRE from the present Education Bill. Yours faithfully, STUARTSEXTON Sanderstead, Surrey