• Sunday, June 23, 2024

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England plans to ban sex education for children under nine: Report

This new guidance, set to be announced on Thursday, would specify what topics are appropriate for different age groups and grant parents access to teaching materials.

Representational image from iStock

By: Vivek Mishra

England is planning to ban sex education for children under nine years old, as well as any teaching about gender identity, according to a news report.

The move comes alongside a review of relationships, sex, and health education (RSHE) guidance.

This new guidance, set to be announced on Thursday, would specify what topics are appropriate for different age groups and grant parents access to teaching materials, reported the BBC.

It will also impose further restrictions on how teachers discuss gender and sexuality, including transgender and non-binary status, following pressure from Conservative MPs.

Head teachers argue there’s no widespread issue with inappropriate materials. One union has said the review is “politically motivated,” the BBC reported.

The proposed changes aim to offer clearer guidance for teachers and reassure parents. However, critics like Paul Whiteman from the school leaders’ union NAHT question the effectiveness of imposing age limits, expressing concerns that such restrictions might lead children to seek information from unreliable sources.

According to the BBC, Rebecca Leek from the Suffolk Primary Headteachers’ Association suggests the proposed bans won’t significantly alter current practices, as sex education typically starts around age 10.

Meanwhile, Pepe Di’Iasio, representing the Association of School and College Leaders, believes pupils are being politicised and stresses the importance of evidence-based decisions in education.

The National Education Union supports discussions about relationships for primary-school children, emphasising the need for open dialogue with trusted adults.

The upcoming guidance follows previous controversies, including protests against LGBT relationships education at Anderton Park Primary. Head teacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson told the BBC the new guidance must leave no room for ambiguity, particularly regarding LGBT relationships education.

Conservative MPs have raised concerns about children’s exposure to “inappropriate content” and “radical ideologies” and called for a review of RSHE guidance. Prime minister Rishi Sunak accelerated this review, with the forthcoming guidance expected to address contested issues like gender ideology.

In Northern Ireland, relationships and sexuality education (RSE) is mandatory, while Welsh schools have had mandatory RSE since 2022. Scotland is finalising updated guidance following a public consultation in 2023.

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