heads and church leaders oppose sex lessons for seven-year-olds
Compulsory sex education in primary schools will erode moral
standards and encourage sexual experimentation, a group of hundreds of head
teachers, school governors and faith leaders say today.
By Julie Henry,
Published: 8:15AM BST 28 Mar 2010
In a letter to
The Sunday Telegraph, 640 signatories, including Catholic bishops, parish
priests, university professors, councillors and doctors, call for legislation to
be dropped which will see children as young as seven taught about sex and
From September next year, primary school pupils will
learn about puberty, sexual intercourse, marriage and the risk of abuse and
Ministers have argued that currently, sex education
starts too late and that improved, earlier lessons are needed to counter teenage
pregnancy, increasingly explicit storylines in films and television soap operas,
as well as exposure to pornography online and through mobile phones.
Children, Schools and Families Bill, which is at committee stage in the Lords,
will introduce compulsory sex education for children from the age of seven.
It will also remove the rights of parents to "opt out" and withdraw their
children from lessons, once their children have reached the age of 15.
But the letter in opposition to the Bill claims the plans seek to impose
a "particular ideology" and undermine parents' rights to bring up their children
in accordance with their own values and culture.
A further 1,500 parents,
grandparents, youth workers and members of the public have also signed the
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, and a lead
signatory, said: "There is widespread disquiet among head teachers, school
governors and faith leaders about moves to reduce the influence of parents over
what is taught in such a sensitive area.
"The Government frequently
repeats its mantra that 'parents bring up children in this country, not the
government and not schools'.
Yet increasingly parents find themselves
sidelined and effectively told they must bring up their children by Government
diktat. It is time to stand up to the encroachment of an overbearing state and
say enough is enough.
"The Bill is music to the ears of those who have long
campaigned for compulsory sex education to advance their agenda to break down
traditional moral standards, redefine the family, promote relativism, celebrate
homosexuality, and encourage sexual experimentation."
claims parents are in favour of compulsory sex education across the school ages.
It commissioned a Populus poll of 1,791 adults in October last year which
found that 81 per cents of parents agreed that every child should attend sex
However, in the official consultation on the
proposals, carried out by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and
published in September last year, only 32 per cent agreed that personal, social
and health education, of which sex education is part, should be compulsory.
Tony Butterick, the head of Holy Trinity, a church primary, in Woking,
Surrey, said: "Children need a childhood. I believe that we are losing
opportunities for protecting the age of innocence.
"In many schools we
manage to retain it but the Government are now dictating the extent to which we
can do that.
"They are trying to solve the ills of society through
education. But children are at school to learn and have a positive outlook on
"It concerns me that at primary level we should be talking to
children about sexuality. Joe Public actually wants children to have a
conservative sex education programme."
Updated teaching materials will
be issued to schools from September, 12 months before the subject becomes
compulsory. Concerns have already been raised about materials used by some
Lisa Bullivant, from Legbourne in Lincolnshire, complained
after her seven-year-old daughter's class was shown a graphic cartoon.
The Channel 4 sex education DVD, which is recommended by the Department
for Children, Schools and Families, showed a naked couple chasing each other
around a bed then having sex, while a voice-over gives a detailed commentary.
Last month, faith schools won a concession when it was confirmed that
Roman Catholic, Anglican, Jewish and Muslim schools would still be able to teach
sex lessons that reflected their religious character.
This means they
can make clear to pupils their opposition to contraception or homosexuality.