Friday, 22 August 2008

Safe At School...

One of SPUC's latest initiatives is the "Safe at School" campaign. I believe that this is more necessary than ever... one of the most recent education drives of the Government is the "Every Child Matters" agenda... of course, every child does matter, though with the emphasis on targets and A*-C grades obtained at GCSE, you'd never think so! However, one of the areas covered by the ECM agenda is that of "Health."

That sounds all fine and dandy. We want our children to be healthy. But this also includes things like sexual health... and children being given information without their parents or guardians being aware of it. Information such as how to masturbate, how to use a condom, how to get hold of the morning-after pill, and how to arrange a surgical abortion... all completely confidential... and with the emphasis on "not telling parents."

This advice is sometimes given by the school nurse: many people do not realise that, under the current child protection policies in our schools, while teachers have a legal responsibility to inform the child protection co-ordinator of any concerns they may have, (for example, if a child is engaging in sexual activity) the school nurse is able to offer complete confidentiality, and has no such obligation to pass on any information. The school nurse can even administer the morning-after pill to students.

Even more worrying is the provision of such advice under the cloak of "careers" advice. Parents might be vigilant when it comes to the curriculum for PSHE, but "careers" sounds pretty innocuous. However, Connexions, which provides careers advice in most schools in England & Wales, include questions on sexual health and behaviour in their careers questionnaires, and encourage students to go and visit their advisors to discuss sexual health, the morning-after pill and abortion.

The Government also appears to be pushing another agenda: to make homosexual lifestyles and relationships appear to be as "normal" and acceptable as heterosexual ones.

Faith schools are not immune. Because Ofsted measure compliance with the ECM policy as part of its inspection process, all schools in the maintained sector are forced to show how they are implementing the sex education requirements. And, even though they can prevent outside agencies coming in to the school, most Catholic schools find it easier to "go with the flow" - and some, indeed, don't see anything wrong with providing contraceptive advice to children...

This isn't just scare-mongering. I had to speak out about the sex education lessons given by the school nurse at one Catholic secondary school in which I worked. They were given information on contraception which was factually inaccurate and totally unsuitable for the age-group of the majority of the children, the teaching of the Church was mentioned in passing (and very dismissively) as "something you might want to consider," and cards explaining where the morning-after pill and abortions could be obtained were handed out. Having discussed this with many colleagues, I discovered that this was not an unusual state of affairs, even in a Catholic school.

I would advise every parent to obtain a copy of the Safe at School leaflet by emailing Liz Foody, and to follow its recommendations.


antonia said...

very interesting, thank you for informing us.


Anonymous said...

Might this be a reason to abandon State maintained schools as a viable way of teaching the Catholic faith to children in the UK in favour of independent and public schools (along with adequate aid programs for those families that might not be able to afford fees)?

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