A new Christian group in Bristol has produced a syllabus for sex education which they say would restore Christian standards to the schemes now being developed by some local education authorities.
The Bristol Family Life Association has circulated the six-page syllabus to all secondary school headteachers in Avon County.
Miss Eileen Simpson, a spokesman for the association, explained that the course was drawn up because they felt that there were shortcomings in the local authority's own scheme. "We are responding to anxiety felt locally and around the country about the breakdown of marriage and family life. We are concerned that sex education should be broadened to cover relationships and marriage education, and we
have a particular Christian slant." she said.
"Some schools cover sex education in biology lessons, but we do not consider that adequate at all. We are also extremely concerned about the action of the Family Planning Association around the country in their attempts at sex education." she said.
"They have well meaning attempts at preventing teenage pregnancies, but at present seem to be putting forward a very partial view of sexuality by offering information about contraceptives without moral guidelines." "Our association is one of the interested groups which have put forward a request to the Government for a parliamentary inquiry into what is being taught at present in schools to help children prepare for marriage."
The Bristol Family Life Association has a mainly Anglican membership and keeps in close contact with the Festival of Light.
The Bristol syllabus of sex education is unlikely to be adopted by Catholic schools.
Bishop Mervyn Alexander of Clifton said, "There are many Christian organisations that have devised schemes to bring a Christian outlook into sex education. I am quite happy with the way it is treated in Catholic schools, and the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council do a very good job in this respect."
The Schools Commission for the Archdiocese of Birmingham recently published their own syllabus of sex education for the first three years of secondary school. Work is now well advanced on the scheme for senior pupils.
Canon Peter Reilly, executive secretary, said that elements of sex education are being brought more into the diocesan syllabus of religious education, including some preliminary aspects in junior schools.
A number of other Catholic dioceses have taken an interest in the Birmingham scheme and have ordered supplies of the teachers' and pupils' kits.
The Westminster diocese does not have a set syllabus of sex education, but advisors from the Religious Education Centre work with individual schools to produce tailor-made schemes.
Sex education figures in the training of parish catechists who work with Catholic youngsters attending state schools. Fr Michael Fewell, who leads the catechists' team said that they receive many enquiries from youth club groups and youth leaders.
"Much of the catechists' work is in preparing young people for the sacraments, and sex education is especially important for the post-confirmation age group." he said.
And in the Liverpool archdiocese, junior school teachers are advised to use a booklet on preparing primary school children for sex education, published by CMAC. There is no organised programme for the secondary schools of the diocese.