Why We Need Parent Power
Posted by Dr Tom Rogers on 1 May 2018
Thursday 18th April saw the official Parliamentary launch of Parent Power — a new website initiative supported by SPUC Safe at School, designed to empower parents to protect their children from education practices and policies which would harm them, as well as undermine their parental role as primary educators of their children.
The event was hosted by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP (DUP) who called the website a “great development”, noting that ‘for too long the laws that are being passed by Parliament, the policies that are being pursued by successive Governments, have really been undermining the family — the basic building block and foundation of our society’.
Mr Donaldson reflected on his experiences as an MP, how he finds himself “dealing every day with broken people who do not have the support that they need”, including “many single parents trying to cope with a system that they just find bewildering”.
He explained that, in response, the new website was “about empowering parents to take their rightful place in the education system’. He commented, “One of the things I’ve learned as an MP is that for most parents the education of their children is one of their top priorities, and yet in recent years the role of the parent in education has been diminished. Not because parents have chosen to take less interest, but because the system has become more bureaucratic, less accessible”. He realises, however, that the establishment may feel threatened by this, remarking that “the system doesn’t want parents to exert their influence, let’s be clear about that – Parent Power is the last thing that it desires. And yet it should be at the fore”.
The enterprise has been led by Rev Lynda Rose of Voice for Justice UK, who explained how it originated in an education conference attended by parents and teachers, and how ‘the overriding thing that came out during the day was just how worried parents were about their children – not just about the headline issues such as sexting, social media, pornography, etc - but they were actually even more worried about the whole thrust of what was being taught in schools; how their children far from being kept safe and protected, were actually being put at risk by too much knowledge too soon’.
She noted that parents were also confused and intimidated by the current state of the law and all the political correctness. They didn’t know what they could do or whether they had any rights: “They wanted guidance on these things, a website like Mumsnet – somewhere they could bring their concerns, chat to and support each other, learn all about the latest issues and get hard facts about the legal position, Also, people they could email for advocacy help, including advice on how to complain and make an impact. That’s how Parent Power was born”.
She introduced a single mother, Liane, who had fallen foul of the system, and who is now home-schooling her two daughters aged 15 and 5. She explained how when her eldest daughter, then age 11, became distressed by the sexualisation and heavy promotion of the LGBT agenda at her all-girls secondary school, she felt she had no choice but to raise concerns with the Head. The school ‘did not take kindly at all’, however, to her complaint, which led to staff subjecting her daughter, who is disabled with special needs, to what can only be described as a campaign of bullying. She was pulled from class every day, for instance, and grilled: ‘is your mother mentally ill? Is she having a nervous breakdown? Is there anything you want to tell us about your mother?’. Her property, including mobile phone and scooter, was deliberately damaged. She begged her mum through tears not to let her go back to school, so Liane, as is her legal right, withdrew her to be home-schooled. The school, however, then involved social services who seemed intent on portraying her as an unfit mother and she had to fight to keep her children.
Dr Tom Rogers, from SPUC’s Safe at School campaign, asked: if such behaviour takes place whilst sex education is supposed to be optional, what will happen when it becomes compulsory? (Read the full speech here). There were in fact certain ways in which schools and local authorities have been attempting to undermine parental rights up to now. For instance, Safe at School supported parents of primary school children in Tower Hamlets who objected to compulsory National Curriculum science lessons being used to deliver immoral and explicit sex education — a campaign which forced the Minister of State for Schools to affirm that this should not happen. In Birmingham, Safe at School supported parents fighting against the imposition of CHIPS (Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools), where, under the pretext of an anti-bullying programme, LGBT ideology was being propagandised widely throughout the primary school’s curriculum.
Dr Rogers explained that although the Government purports to be retaining the parental right of withdrawal from the ‘sex education’ parts of RSE at secondary level, this “all still rests on an as yet undefined distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘relationships’ education, the lines already being very crisscrossed and blurred”. The Government has repeatedly stated, for instance, that Relationships Education at primary, for which there is no right of withdrawal, will be ‘LGBT inclusive’. “Unless parents can decide for themselves, therefore, what constitutes sex education then this ‘right of withdrawal’ is left looking very dubious”.
Tim Dieppe of Christian Concern related certain recent cases which his organisation had been involved in – one of the most high profile being that of Nigel and Sally Rowe, who were branded ‘bigoted’ and ‘transphobic’ for complaining when, for the second time, one of their children (this time their 6 year old) was told by teachers at their Church of England school how they now had to refer to a child in their class by a different opposite-sex name, as they had ‘changed genders’. Such parents, he said, are the brave ones but ‘there are many more who feel too intimidated even to write a letter or email’.
Parent Power therefore has an important and encouraging networking role, so parents know there are many others out there who feel the same and who will back them up.
He shared also some encouraging stories of what could be achieved when parents are supported in challenging what is going on – for instance, a case of parents successfully overturning one school’s disturbing practise of handing out Stonewall’s ‘Some people are gay get over it’ stickers to their children.
Edmund Matyjaszek, a head teacher from the Isle of Wight, pointed out how most parents are unaware even of the rights they already have under the existing law, the key source of which is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which states that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”. This principle has been incorporated into the European Convention of Human rights (1953), ensuring the right of parents to educate “in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions” (Protocol 1, Article 2); and further enshrined into British law by the Human Rights Act 1998, supported by Article 9 of that Act.
In addition, the Equality Act 2010 establishes ‘religion and belief’ as a ‘protected characteristic’, and the parental right to withdraw one’s children from sex education (in a maintained school, except where part of National Curriculum) is guaranteed by Section 405 of the Education Act 1996. Mr Matyjaszek explained that many school and education officials were in fact ‘paper tigers’, who will often back down when confronted with what the law actually states.
Finally, Nigel Steele (Christian Education Europe) provided guests at the launch with a tour of the new website, which features up-to-date news and articles on the key issues and latest campaigns, advice on parental rights and the law, and a chat forum where parents can share their experiences, discuss any matters of concerns, and engage with and receive support from others.
SPUC Safe at School is very pleased to support this new initiative, which will greatly compliment the work that we have been involved in. It represents an important means of outreach to many more parents whose inaliable rights and responsibilities are being undermined by the system.
Please check out the new site at www.parentpower.family and spread the word! – especially to parents who wish to take back control of their children’s education.