In a welcome but long overdue move, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has now written to schools telling them to share with parents, on request, all materials scheduled for use in relationships, sex and health education (RSHE). Parents, she says, have the right to know what children are taught, and schools can no longer be permitted to block access because of supposed copyright issues (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12663819/Schools-sex-education-material-Education-Parent-asks-Secretary-Gillian-Keegan-warns.html).
She went on to state that copyright obligations relating to sex education materials are trumped in law by the parent’s right to know, and the Department for Education is now reportedly preparing template letters to counter possible claims by providers for copyright infringement.
Well and good and, as said, the statement is extremely welcome. There remain, however, a few very large elephants in the room – chief of which, is how we got into this position in the first place. Parents, after all, entrust their child to a school to be ‘educated’, so that they might best realise their potential and be prepared to take their future place in society. In this regard, the school should act under the direction of a child’s parents and does not, of itself, have any right to dictate what a child learns. While a child remains on school premises, the school is literally in loco parentis; which means that it is under a duty to act subject to the parents’ directions and has no right to exceed that mandate.
What it must not do is indoctrinate children into acceptance and practice of questionable and hazardous behaviours for the purpose of bringing about wider social change.
Protocol 1, Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 states, ‘In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions’ (https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-2-first-protocol-right-education).
Patently, this is something many schools are failing to do, often to the extent of deliberately ignoring or even over-riding the protests of parents who oppose the promotion of sexual licence, same sex behaviours, and gender choice – not just on religious grounds, but because they think such teaching puts their children at risk.
Schools claim that they are acting solely for the benefit of children, protecting them against exploitation and abuse in an increasingly dangerous world … and that, where there are objections, they know better than parents. But the question must surely be asked, if the disputed resources are as good as claimed and beneficial, why do so many schools actively try and stop parents from seeing them?
The unpalatable answer would seem to be that in recent years schools have not just knowingly and recklessly exceeded their brief, but have become proactive agents for ideological change, teaching highly disputed and potentially damaging concepts as incontrovertible ‘fact’. It could even perhaps be said that, if secular activists advocating sexual libertarianism have acted as architects for cultural revolution, then schools have become one of the main agents for its implementation. Uncoupling the stranglehold of these ideologues is undeniably now going to present a challenge, but, for the sake of the nation’s young, it is a challenge that must be faced. The harmful indoctrination of children must end.
Later this year, the Government is set to launch a consultation into how to ensure ‘that all RSHE teaching is factual and does not present contested views on sensitive topics as fact’ (https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2023-06-05/hcws814). The aim, it further says, is to put it place “clear safeguards to stop pupils from being taught contested and potentially damaging concepts”. This too is to be welcomed.
But not only must parents be given the automatic right to see all materials to which their children will be exposed – the ideologues with their pernicious agenda for change must now be removed.