Guarded wel­come for sex ed­u­ca­tion change

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LIANNE KOLIRIN

ORTHO­DOX JEWISH schools have cau­tiously wel­comed a gov­ern­ment plan to in­tro­duce com­pul­sory sex ed­u­ca­tion in all English schools.

Un­til now, sex and re­la­tion­ships ed­u­ca­tion has been com­pul­sory in stateaided sec­ondary schools un­der lo­cal au­thor­ity con­trol but not in acad­e­mies and free schools. This has now been ex­tended and could come into ef­fect as soon as Septem­ber 2019.

Un­der the new guide­lines, con­firmed in a writ­ten state­ment from ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary Jus­tine Green­ing, sex ed­u­ca­tion will be put on a “statu­tory foot­ing” so “ev­ery child has ac­cess to age ap­pro­pri­ate pro­vi­sion”.

Ms Green­ing said: “The statu­tory guid­ance for sex and re­la­tion­ships ed­u­ca­tion was in­tro­duced in 2000 and is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly out­dated. It fails to ad­dress risks to chil­dren that have grown in preva­lence over the last 17 years, in­clud­ing cy­ber-bul­ly­ing, ‘sex­ting’ and stay­ing safe on­line.”

Par­ents will con­tinue to have the right to re­move their chil­dren from lessons and faith schools will be al­lowed some flex­i­bil­ity.

Ms Green­ing added: “As now, faith schools will con­tinue to be able to teach in ac­cor­dance with the tenets of their faith.”

Ju­dith Nemeth, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Jewish Ortho­dox Schools (Na­jos), which rep­re­sents more than 60 schools, wel­comed the Gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion. She said Na­jos had worked closely with the Gov­ern­ment dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion and found some “ex­cel­lent work al­ready go­ing on in schools in the realm of child pro­tec­tion and safe­guard­ing”.

The Gov­ern­ment is propos­ing to in­tro­duce the new sub­ject

Jus­tine Green­ing of “re­la­tion­ships ed­u­ca­tion” in pri­mary school and re­nam­ing the sec­ondary school sub­ject “re­la­tion­ships and sex ed­u­ca­tion”, to em­pha­sise the im­por­tance of healthy re­la­tion­ships.

The amend­ments will con­tinue to al­low par­ents a right to with­draw chil­dren from sex ed­u­ca­tion, and schools will be re­quired to pub­lish a clear state­ment of what will be taught, so par­ents can make in­formed de­ci­sions.

Rabbi Avro­hom Pin­ter, prin­ci­pal of the Ye­sodey Ha­torah schools in Stam­ford Hill, said: “This is recog­ni­tion that it isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ ap­proach, which is very important to us.

“Many par­ents in wider so­ci­ety have ab­di­cated their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the school. That is not the case of the Ortho­dox com­mu­nity where many par­ents still be­lieve it is their re­spon­si­bil­ity as par­ents to guide and pro­vide their chil­dren with re­la­tion­ship ed­u­ca­tion.”

Ev­ery child will have ac­cess to ap­pro­pri­ate pro­vi­sion

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

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