The Catholic Education Service (CES) has welcomed today's Government announcement on Relationship and Sex Education. The subject is to be made compulsory in all schools in England, Education Secretary Justine Greening said today. Until now sex education has only been compulsory in council-run schools. Under the new ruling parents will always have the right to withdraw their children from all or any these classes.
CES chairman Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, said: "Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) forms part of the mission of Catholic schools: to educate the whole person. Our schools have a long track record of educating young people who are prepared for adult life as informed and engaged members of society, and high quality RSE plays an important part of this.
"We welcome the Government's commitment to improving Relationship and Sex Education in all schools. Catholic schools already teach age-appropriate Relationship and Sex Education in both primary and secondary schools. This is supported by a Catholic model RSE curriculum which covers the RSE curriculum from nursery all the way through to sixth form.
"We additionally welcome the Government's commitment to protect parental right of withdrawal and involve parents in all stages of the development and delivery of RSE in all schools. It is essential that parents fully support the school's approach to these sensitive matters. The experience of Catholic schools is that parental involvement is the basis for providing consistent and high quality RSE at home and at school.
"We look forward to working closely with the Government to shape any new guidance to enable Catholic schools to continue to deliver outstanding RSE, in accordance with parents' wishes and Church teaching."
Meanwhile, the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) has expressed fears about the ruling, describing statutory sex education as "a sinister intrusion by the state into family life."
Making Sex and Relationships Education a compulsory school subject means that millions of parents in Britain will lose control over what is taught to their children about sex, said Antonia Tully, National Co-ordinator of SPUC's Safe at School Campaign, in a press release.
"Today's announcement is a tragedy. Parents will be absolutely powerless to protect their children from presentations of sexual activity which we know are part of many sex education teaching resources for primary school children."
Classroom lessons on pornography and sexting are not a replacement for the loving, ongoing vigilance of parents, says Mrs Tully. "The state simply cannot safeguard children in the same way that parents can. This proposal is sending a huge message to parents that they are unfit to teach their own children about sex."
Responding to SPUC's comments, a government spokesman reiterated that parents will be entitled to withdraw their children from all or any RSE classes and will have the opportunity to be involved in the development of the courses.