With children returning to school this term, many parents are concerned about how schools will teach Relationships and Sex Education. Misleading RSE Resources https://rsereview.org/resources/ are currently being used in hundreds of schools across the country.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Consultation between the school and parents
OFSTED has observed that historically schools have been poor at consulting with parents on sex education, even though it is a legal requirement. How is consultation on RSE going to be any better?
Opt-out (right to withdraw, similar to sex ed)
This has problems, as you can’t opt-out of what you don’t know is happening and schools are not always forthcoming. It focusses attention, unhelpfully, on the dissenter and the exercising of parents’ opt-out rights have actually been known to be over-ridden by schools.
Parents at least have to take some action in this case, although they may still not look into the details of what they’re signing their children up to!
There is a proposal to establish a Watchdog to make RSE teaching transparent and accountable. While this might be of some help, it would only be as good as the remit given, the ideological position of the officials involved and the logistical limitations of monitoring school programmes.
Referendum on RSE
RSE would probably not be considered a referendum matter.
Rather than trying to navigate through the plethora of offerings being peddled to schools claiming to fulfil the requirements of the RSE regulations, parents, governors and teachers could choose traditional-family-programmes. Such resources are offered by sites like RSE – Get It Right! https://rse-get-it-right.org.uk. There is no guarantee that any particular school will choose these resources though.
Schools flat-out refusing to deliver certain content
There is an example of an orthodox Jewish school taking a stand in this way. It has taken on the establishment and is risking ex-communication from the education system.
If the school won’t alter its RSE policy to the satisfaction of parents, this is an option. The campaign would recommend checking any prospective school for its RSE policy and whether it is listed by Parent Power https://parentpower.family as a school that uses Stonewall resources.
This has been considered or adopted by more parents because of schools’ poor handling of RSE.
Legal action is the only thing that has produced significant, positive results. Safe Schools Alliance has taken on the Crown Prosecution Service and Oxford County Council over LGBT Hate Crime Guidance and Transgender Toolkits for schools respectively. The Christian Institute threatened Warwickshire County Council with legal action over safeguarding issues to do with the All About Me programme. https://christian.org.uk/news/cps-pulls-hate-crime-guidance-after-legal-
Legal Action, however, requires a lot of time, energy and expense, whether the parties involved win or lose, and on those bases excludes the vast majority of people that RSE affects.
If court is the only recourse parents have to challenge something as fundamental as how their children are schooled, there is something very wrong. This is a bad law, arguably unnecessary and certainly far too open to abuse. Bad laws should be amended; bad laws should be repealed.
With a judicial review against it pending, the Department for Education has issued new guidance on implementing Relationships and Sex Education in England. www.christian.org.uk/news/new-rse-guidance-expels-
Hailed as “a victory for safeguarding and common sense” by the Values Foundation, the guidance clarifies schools’ responsibilities in a number of areas.
“Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material.”
The Department of Education’s guidance counters trans-activist groups such as Mermaids, which previously pushed its ideology in schools across the U.K. via educator training sessions.
“Your local authority, governing body and headteacher must …. secure that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils, they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views”.
The Department continues:
“You should be aware that the meaning of political issues does not refer solely to the discussion of party politics. Schools are advised to consider the range of issues on which there could be political views, which may include global affairs, equalities issues, religion and economics”.
Same-sex marriage (which accounts for fewer than 3% of all marriages in England and Wales) is a political issue, for example. A string of legal rulings confirms this. Historically, throughout the world, marriage has been between a man and a woman. Millions of people think it is wrong to define it in any other way. Now it won’t be so easy for schools to gloss over these facts.
Despite these recent victories, many schools are still using misleading and inaccurate RSE resources. It’s more necessary than ever then for parents to find out when they will be consulted on RSE policy, so they can ensure that their children are educated safely and in accordance with their wishes (Education Act 1996).