CONSERVATIVES have been cheering Warwickshire county council’s scrapping of its primary school sex education programme All About Me. But are the celebrations premature? The final lines of the original Coventry Live article reporting this victory indicates how little power parents have over the programme’s substitute. It quoted a council statement which said that schools would be offered a new programme which ‘will be aligned with the Department for Education’s national materials and resources to support schools to meet their statutory requirements under the new Relationships & Sex Education regulations’. So everything depends on what the Department for Education comes up with in its place.
If you try finding the All About Me (AMM) programme (which would more correctly be titled All About Sex) online you will be met by ‘Page not found’ notices which popped up shortly after controversy arose over the programme’s content. Fortunately I’d printed all the lesson plans as soon as I heard of its existence, foreseeing that such a purge might be around the corner. It seems Coventry Live didn’t, hence their headline ‘Council scraps programme after parents say it encouraged masturbation’ (my emphasis). Never mind what parents say; this is what the programme itself instructed and said (albeit in other words).
All the criticism reported of this curriculum is spot on, but conservatives should be wary of hailing victory too soon when responding to such policy reversals.
Much as they hope that the rollback is a ‘victory against the school sex zealots’, and much as they are right to condemn the ‘Conservative’ county council’s defence of the programme’s continuing use for a number of months in the face of huge protests from parents before finally dropping it, it is not quite so clear-cut. It would be wrong to presume that because the council has totally scrapped this scheme, or that it no longer supports or defends its approach or content. Or that the Government has radically altered its approach.
Last October Warwickshire county council defended the All About Me programme. It said that ‘these resources are fully researched, evidence-based and [most significantly] in line with the Department for Education guidelines’.
Now the council is noting that the programme predated new Government guidance and regulations, and would need updating to comply fully with the guidelines.
The threat seems to be that while the programme does not match current government guidelines, its replacement could be even more extreme. Small c and big C conservatives still need to keep their antennae trained.
Remember it was Conservative PM Theresa May who made sex education compulsory in secondary schools, dismissing conservative opposition on it. It is Conservative governments who have allowed sex fanatics to decide our children’s sex education. It was David Cameron who expressed no concern when it was revealed that hundreds of girls aged between 13 and 16 were being given birth control implants at school – in effect making the legal age of consent redundant – without the need for parental approval.
Do I need even to touch on the absurdity of presuming that ‘Boris’ Johnson will act any differently on this front? He is an open social liberal whose support for schools rocked by parent protests hardly bodes well.
We can and should celebrate this small ‘victory’ but we must not let up our guard. The war is very far from being won.