The Children, Schools, and Family Bill was passed last night
by Parliament. In general this was a good piece of legislation that made Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (which includes sex education) part of the National Curriculum. However an amendmend was added that seriously weakened the bill by allowing tax-payer funded schools with religious foundations to opt out of these requirements. This means that while all other schools are required to teach "balanced" and "accurate" sex education, tax-payer funded faith schools (around a third of all schools in Britain) can choose not to if they believe it contradicts their "religious ethos." The bill as it stood without the amendment already allowed for education that explored and respected different cultural and religious perspectives, and would have already allowed tax-payer funded faith schools to teach their religious views on issues of sexuality. But now the religious ethos can trump all other principles. If you claim its because of your religious ethos, there is no requirement that your sex education has to be accurate.
This is a failure of the thousands of children in state-funded faith schools. In a country with a large teenage pregnancy problem, this is a failure on behalf of the government to have the courage to deal with the problem.
Also worrying is the fact that homophobic bullying is a worse problem in tax-payer funded faith schools. The bill will now do nothing to address that problem.
What's also got me angry is the fact that there wasn't even time to debate this amendment last night in Parliament. This is a huge issue and Parliament didn't even get around to talking about it before they were asked to pass it? What is going on? Whatever you think about an issue, surely the whole point of Parliament is to debate an issue? How much more evidence do you need that Parliament is in dire need of reform?
If you are as annoyed as me about this, please support the Accord Coalition
, that campaigns for an inclusive schooling system.