BY ED WEST
THE GOVERNmENT ignored the results of its public consultation into sex education for children before pressing ahead with its proposals against parents’ wishes, it has been claimed.
Ed Balls’s Department of Children, Schools and Families held a public education consultation after announcing plans to make sex education a statutory part of the national curriculum from the beginning of primary school, as part of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) classes.
The consultation was managed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) which revealed that over two-thirds of respondents disagreed with making PSHE statutory, and 79 per cent agreed that parents, carers and guardians should be allowed to maintain the right to withdraw their children from sex lessons.
The Government agreed to a public consultation a year ago after an initial review process that had excluded parents.
But, last month the Government commissioned its own questionnaire of 1,791 adults and 1,661 parents, according to Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust’s director, “asked some leading questions aimed at securing a semblance of public support for making PSHE education statutory and for limiting the right of parents to withdraw their children from sex education”.
Mr Wells said the Govern ment chose to give greater weight to the October survey than to the full public consultation. Mr Balls announced earlier this month that it would be compulsory for all pupils aged 15 or over to learn about sex, relationships and drugs, without the need for parental consent, leading the Muslim Council of Britain to announce it would mount a legal challenge against it.
Mr Wells said: “In his determination to impose his own agenda, Ed Balls is going against the fundamental principle in UK education law that parents are responsible for the education of their children and that pupils must be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents. That responsibility does not cease on a child’s 15th birthday. The Government has no evidence that children who are being withdrawn from sex education classes are at greater risk of teenage pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections and no evidence that imposing sex education on them regardless of their parents’ views will bring any positive benefit.
“We have had 30 years of sex education in secondary schools and it has never been more easy for teenagers to get hold of contraception without their parents knowing, yet we still have the highest teenage conception rates in western Europe and sexually transmitted infection rates have continued to rise.” The Government plans to implement its new policies from September 2011.