Friday, October 2, 2020
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Extra brainwashing on the curriculum

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An ‘improved’ curriculum for SRE (Sex and Relationship Education) and PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education) is about to hit classrooms. It will be an appealing potion of solutions to calm adult angst and neurosis about what are construed to be the problems of modern-day childhood.

The Government has launched a call for evidence in order to legitimise what it has in mind. Interested parties are required to respond by 12 February. Firstly, though, it will be necessary to locate the form. For readers of The Conservative Woman here it is.

The plan is to ‘ensure universal coverage for all pupils and improved quality’ in the provision of SRE and PSHE. One may safely assume that ‘improved quality’ will mean greater adherence to the rules of political correctness. It will not mean any questioning of these rules. The call for evidence is all about what should be included, not about what should be excluded.

It is a bit of a toss-up, for example, as to exactly how many gender variations children should be taught about. Facebook provides 71 gender options, up from only 50 a few years ago, but is that sufficient? Is Facebook underplaying the issue of diversity? The updated school curriculum, after all, must prepare pupils for the 21st century. It is into such territory that the call for evidence questionnaire leads respondents.

The Government must be delighted to have received pre-emptive support from zealots in the most prestigious of our independent schools. The high mistress of St Paul’s Girls’ School declared to the Sunday Times: ‘We are moving to the point where gender is a choice.’ Even the head of Eton has climbed aboard the bandwagon by opining that youngsters these days need to be more ‘gender intelligent’.

Time’s up, it seems, for those celebs claiming to be female and moaning about transitioning blokes using their so-called women-only facilities and pool at the Hampstead ponds!

And what about sex and relationships education for infants? This, too, will be at the heart of discussion. Nursery rhymes have already been largely ditched, as the Ofsted chief inspector has noted. Traditional fairy tales are heading for the scrapheap. What will replace them? Has Thomas the Tank Engine reached the end of the line, too? Condemned as sexist and racist, he is about to get a politically correct makeover along with some surviving fairy tales. Some remnants of traditional childhood stories may survive but not in a form recognisable to many parents and grandparents. It is very much out with the old and in with the new!

Whilst parents are likely to retain the right to withdraw their child from the sex education component of RSE, the Government has made clear its intention to set an age at which pupils will have a legal right to make that decision for themselves. This setting of child against parent and parent against child is a pernicious tactic. It is likely to see most parents stepping aside from the start. Who wants their child to be the odd one out by withdrawing them from SRE lessons?

What is remarkable about the call for evidence questionnaire is that is does not provide an opportunity to reject what is being offered – a Blob-created programme of SRE and PSHE for our children. The assumption is that for all its failures in the past, for all its brainwashing characteristics, it is inherently desirable.

The questionnaire cites overwhelming support for SRE/PSHE from some surveys in recent years whilst failing to quote from others that suggest less enthusiasm. A survey by the National Association of Head Teachers, for example, showed that only 4 per cent of parents believe that it should be left to schools alone to ‘teach about the dangers of online pornography’ and that a majority of parents were against teaching about it at all in primary school.

Even if, in 2018, dissenting parents are fewer in number, would it not be more in line with the Government’s British Values agenda still to teach respect and understanding of those voices? For example, why is the LGBT community still persecuted in many parts of the world and why was it once persecuted here in the UK? Why are homosexual acts condemned by many major religions? Understanding and knowledge of these perspectives really matters in the education of young people.

Schools should concentrate on promoting the ‘golden rule’ of most religions – treating others as we would wish to be treated. I was pleasantly surprised recently when I made this point in a radio debate and my transgender opponent expressed his/her total agreement.

If the Government wishes to go beyond the golden rule, it needs to ensure that young people get the whole picture and not just the part of it that is likely to be result of its call for evidence.

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovernhttp://www.cre.org.uk
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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