BY MARK GREAVES
CATHOLIC schools will not be required to teach pupils where they can get an abortion, the Catholic Education Service (CES) has said.
Oona Stannard, chief executive and director of the CES, said that schools would not be compelled to “promote abortion” under the Children, Schools and Families Bill.
She issued a letter after Schools Secretary Ed Balls said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Catholic schools “must explain how to access an abortion”.
His remark heightened controversy over the Bill, which introduces sex and relationship education for children as young as five. Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest in Blackfen, Kent, said giving information about the local abortion clinic “would be co-operation in a grave evil”.
Miss Stannard said in her letter to The Catholic Herald: “Catholic schools uphold the teachings of the Church in all that they do. This applies, in particular, to all work about sex and relationships education. They robustly teach, for example, about the sanctity of life and do not and would not promote abortion.
“We do not expect the situation to change in the light of the Children, Schools and Families Bill which, after all, enshrines principles of ‘equality’, ‘the importance of both rights and responsibilities’ and ‘acceptance of diversity’; all principles which should uphold our rights in imparting authentic Catholic teaching.” The Bill requires schools to teach pupils aged seven to 11 about marriage, divorce and same-sex relationships. Older pupils will learn about contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases. The Bill was amended to ensure that faith schools were allowed to teach the curriculum according to their ethos.