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Ofsted "acting like Big Brother" over compulsory sex education

21 February 2019

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman

"The Government is determined to trample over the rights of parents to bring up their children in line with their own values."

As alarm over the upcoming introduction of compulsory Relationships education in all schools in England grows, SPUC's Safe at School Campaign has said that Ofsted is ignoring the human rights of parents.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said today that all schools should teach children about same-sex relationships, regardless of the values of parents.. Her comments come in the wake of the protests at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham where the "No Outsiders" programme is being used. Ms Spielman defended the controversial lessons saying it is crucial children are exposed to differences in society and that it is important children know "there are families that have two mummies or two daddies".

"Families must be left to bring up their children in their own way"

But Antonia Tully of the SPUC Safe at School campaign said that this amounts to a serious contravention of human rights.  "Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) guarantees everyone’s 'right to a private and family life' and has been defended in a recent UK Supreme Court judgement," she said. "In a withering verdict the court stated: 'The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get to the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way'."

What's the background? 

In September 2020 three new compulsory subjects will be introduced in schools in England - Relationships Education (RE) in all primary schools, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in all secondary schools and Health Education in all schools.

Although the row in Birmingham centres on the right of parents to introduce issues around same-sex relationships in accordance with their own beliefs and values, there are other concerns. The Government's draft regulations and guidance say that secondary school children will be provided with comprehensive ‘non-judgemental’ information on contraception and abortion. They will be signposted as to where to obtain contraception and abortion without parental knowledge or consent, and carrying an unborn child to term is presented simply as one of the possible options when pregnant, alongside that of having an abortion.

Parental rights

A key concern is that parents now have no legal right to withdraw their children from Relationships and Sex Education at secondary school, with the parental right of withdrawal being replaced by a "right to request withdrawal". 

Ms Spielman’s comments come just days ahead of a debate in Parliament triggered by 100,000 signatures calling on the Government "to give parents the right to opt their children out of Relationships and Sex Education". SPUC Safe at School Has sent nearly 250,000 campaign postcards to parents, grandparents and other concerned citizens across England calling on the Secretary of State rethink the proposal which prohibits parents from taking their children out of Relationships Education lessons.

Big Brother nightmare

Mrs Tully explains that as 2020 approaches, "parents are becoming more and more concerned about how they will protect their children. The Big Brother nightmare will then become a reality for all parents who will not be allowed to withdraw their children from these lessons, no matter what is being taught. 

"The Government is determined to trample over the rights of parents to bring up their children in line with their own values. And it’s not just parents with a religious faith who will undermined. You don’t have to have a religious faith to want to protect your child against inappropriate teaching on intimate matters about sexuality and relationships."

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