Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE STATEMENT -Choice threatened by Whitehall sex ed grab

I am grateful to Hippolytus who brought this to my attention in the combox to my previous post. The Christian Institute and Care have obtained legal advice which suggests that
the proposals may, in effect, discriminate against religious parents who are unable to consider alternatives to government-maintained schools.
Amongst the points mentioned in a one-page summary of the legal advice are:
  • “The new requirement for PSHE to be ‘appropriate’ to pupils’ ‘religious and cultural backgrounds’ (set out in clause 11(4) of the CSF Bill) is not only held in tension with a potentially conflicting requirement to ‘promote equality’ (as already stated), but it is a much weaker requirement than the existing obligation in section 403 (1A)(b) of the Education Act 1996 (which will be deleted by the CSF Bill) to ensure that children are ‘protected’ from inappropriate teaching and materials.”
  • “The recent amendment would, on the face of it, improve the position for faith schools. However, it would still have to be read alongside the other conflicting requirements in the SRE curriculum. This would not be a straightforward task and there is still potential for the CSF Bill to erode the religious ethos and autonomy of faith schools.” (para 44.d)
These latter points illustrate the conflict betwen the so-called concession granted to faith schools that they may teach these matters in accordance with their religious ethos and the obligation as re-stated by Ed Balls in the 8.10am interview on the Today programme this morning that all schools must teach their pupils about contraception and abortion and ensure that they are informed about how to access these services. I haven't yet caught up on the news today...

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