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HomeNewsChris McGovern: Teachers are expected to be social workers and psychiatrists

Chris McGovern: Teachers are expected to be social workers and psychiatrists


Compulsory sex education is on its way to your child’s school. Many parents will sigh with relief but others will sigh in anguish. Personally, I am broadly in favour of sex education in the classroom provided it is agreed with the parent body and, largely, confined to the secondary level and taught within a moral framework. It is, in any case, already part of the Science National Curriculum.

The threat of children being exposed to politically correct fanaticism in the name of sex education should, however, worry us all. Sex education under the control of PC zealots is a Pandora’s box. It will mean a great deal more than what it says on the label. Prepare yourself for some nasty surprises in the years ahead.

And, if you are a parent, be wary of exercising the opt-out clause. Any child who misses these lessons will have a high chance of being isolated, stigmatised and bullied.  As a mum or dad you are in a position akin to the Sicilian entrepreneur who is politely asked by the local Mafioso if he would like ‘fire insurance’ for his new business. Purely optional, of course! The educational PC mafia will get you one way or the other. Heads they win and tails you lose, sort of thing!

And no one should imagine that most of the silent majority of teachers are banging a drum to teach about sex. In my experience, many in the profession dread even having to teach a ‘subject’ entitled “Personal, Social and Health Education” (PSHE). Too often it is little more than an excuse to promote the ‘right-on’, politically correct, credo that is so à la mode’ in schools these days.

For a graduate physicist, linguist or mathematician, who entered teaching because of a love of their subject and of teaching it, PSHE is a complete ‘turn-off’. This is what plenty of bright teachers are complaining about to their mates in the pub on a Friday night, if they have the energy to get down there. It is an unreported reason why so many leave the profession after a few years.  They are being driven out by the sheer frustration of not being allowed to get on with teaching their subject.

Instead, they are charged with solving most of society’s problems. In too many schools teaching has become a combination of social work and psychiatric support. Heaven knows we have plenty of problems in our society these days. Schools are increasingly required to deal with the symptoms, to be the fire fighters. They cannot cope and by trying to meet the burden placed on them, they frequently make matters worse. Pity the child who did not realise that they had a problem until they went to their PSHE or to their sex education lesson.

Submerged by a deluge of responsibilities that have more to do with social engineering than with learning, many of our best qualified teachers are no longer being allowed to fulfil their vocation – teaching their subject they love. Small wonder, then, that we lag so far behind the best education systems around the world. The traditional academic curriculum is, too often, being pushed to one side.

In this age of anxiety schools have been forced to take their eye off the ball.

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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