Thursday, November 05, 2009

CES response to Government Sex Ed Proposals

Press Statement from the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales

Issued by Matt Hopkinson on 05/11/2009 10:49

Press statement – for immediate release 5th November 2009

CESEW response to proposals relating to Sex and Relationships Education and parental rights
The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) believes that Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) is vital in the education of young people. It enables factual information from reliable sources to be communicated and misinformation from peers or street culture or exploitation to be avoided. The CESEW also recognises that Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) is rightly a sensitive issue. We continue to wholeheartedly support the belief that parents are the first educators of their children, as well as recognising the significant roles and responsibilities of governing bodies on these issues.
Whilst disappointed that legal encumbrances mean that a blanket right of withdrawal can no longer apply, we are pleased that the Government has recognised that the right of withdrawal in formative years is most critical and is therefore providing for the ability of parents to opt-out of SRE up to the age of 15.
CESEW will continue to firmly uphold the position that parental rights remain vital, particularly but not exclusively, in those most formative and critical years up until the age of 15.
As age and growing independence brings young people ever closer to pressures, advertising and coercion to behaviour which can undermine the healthy life of young people, we are comforted in the knowledge that our schools and colleges will do an exceptional job in providing Sex and Relationships Education, set within the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Being Parish Priest in the centre of one of the most sexualised city in England, I really do believe that our young people need to be taught about sex, about sexual relationships and responsibilities. I am concerned that government initiatives rather than ameliorating the situation have proved themselves to be contribute to the sexualisation of young people, which shows itself in the level of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies amongst school age children.

I would have no problem with this government initiative in Catholic schools providing Catholic teaching and principles lay clearly behind their implementation. The problem is that we are having increasing difficulty staffing our Catholic schools with teachers who believe and accept the Magisterium. In our deanery we have the largest Catholic school in Europe, I am sure it does its best but those young people I speak seem to have little understanding or even knowledge of Catholic teaching on sexuality.

The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales says, "we are comforted in the knowledge that our schools and colleges will do an exceptional job in providing Sex and Relationships Education, set within the teachings of the Catholic Church". They might well be comforted by this knowledge but I would like to see some evidence but as far as I know there is no statistical evidence that this sense of "comfort" is justified. The anecdotal evidence would suggest that beyond the Primary level, a far from "exceptional job" is done.

There many elephants in the room, yesterday the Holy Father called for a healthy debate over theological issues that had not been defined by the Magisterium, in England and Wales we need a healthy debate over so many pastoral issues, one of which is sex education in our schools, possibly even whether we are still capable of staffing our larger schools with teachers who understand and are capable of teaching what the Catholic teaches to be true and from God.


George said...

"we are comforted in the knowledge that our schools and colleges will do an exceptional job in providing Sex and Relationships Education, set within the teachings of the Catholic Church" -

To which I say, Oh really???!!!!

And when is the last time any of the CESEW people set foot in a grass roots Catholic School? 1930/1940 perhaps 1950?

While parents, some governors together with a handful of teachers fight on all fronts to uphold some semblance of a Moral Backbone in line with the Church's Magisterium so that our children can at least sense a difference between their Catholilc school and the secular messages they are bombarded with from every angle in the great wide world, we are given no support by the CESEW or indeed our Bishops.

It is a lonely battlefield and the foot soldiers are weary.

Rather than lounging in their 'comfort zone' the CESEW should be donning their 12oz gloves and giving the Government merry hell for even daring to push their pornographic, sexualizing, homosex promoting and morally bankrupt Sex-Ed and Relationship policies on our children. It's nothing less than sexual abuse of minors!

Better still, can't the CESEW come up with solid Catholic programmes of their own. They could consult with the likes of Good Counsel Network, Family Life International and others who have years and years of experience in these delicate fields.

Come on CESEW earn your corn!

Elizabeth said...

'We are comforted in the knowledge that our schools and colleges will do an exceptional job in providing Sex and Relationships Education, set within the teachings of the Catholic Church'.

Well I am glad that CES have such faith in our Catholic Schools. They obviously do not have any children in them. In my children's flagship Catholic school the Head of RE told a class that what the Church teaches about contraception is not always right!!!

These schools fail in teaching the Catholic Faith according to the magisterium how on earth will they manage the Churches teaching on sex.

Laicus said...

This statement by the CES seems to ignore completely the position of very young children, not apparently regarding it as something that needs to be addressed specially. The Government are planning compulsory sex education for schoolchildren from the age of five, but this is directly contrary to Catholic teaching. The Pontifical Council for the Family ("The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality") says, as regards those in "the age of innocence", that "this period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex" (78). To do so, compulsorily by law, has been accurately described as itself constituting "institutionalized sex abuse".

The Pontifical Council's document says (83): "Parents should politely but firmly exclude any attempts to violate children's innocence because such attempts compromise the spiritual, moral and emotional development of young persons who have a right to their innocence."

"Exclude" is the word used. In other words NO sex education for those of very tender years.

Have the CES nothing to say about this special aspect? Are they content to let it go by default? Do they, a "Catholic" body, think they know better than Rome about the importance of this truly special aspect concerning that which the Pontifical Council says "compromises the spiritual, moral and emotional development" of these little ones?

Michael Petek said...

The Government are thinking about careers education from the age of seven.

How they expect children to concentrate on thinking about what they're going to be when they grow up, when they want them to know the Kama Sutra backwards, forwards and sideways from the age of five, is beyond me.

Google this and see what you get:
"Europe Cracks Down on Home School Parents"

Fidelisjoff said...

In my experience, almost twenty years in teaching, Catholics faithful to the magisterium face persecution and a thwarted career path. There is little understanding or tolerance of the Catholic faith in our schools. They can be more caring but do little or nothing, or indeed undermine, the faith that remains in our children. The badge of catholic is used for a comfortable career in school management and a CES that would probably not recognize a true Catholic ethos if it ever found one are at the root of the problem. It is a sad situation and one The Lord has kept me from directly experiencing. In state schools Catholics that submit to the magisterium are more likely to be respected.

nickbris said...

I'm sorry but I thought Catholic Teaching on SEX was that it was totally forbidden outside marriage.

What else is there to learn? Not much point learning about STD's or contraception,what else is left?

Michael Petek said...

Daphne McLeod has written an article about this: Will Your Grandchildren Be Catholic?"

It's on the Internet.

Red Maria said...

There are a number of important issues which arise from the DCSF's statement:

# This is a clear rolling-back of parents' rights. I spoke to a DCSF press officer today who blurted out words to that effect.

# What will happen to Catholic children who are not at Catholic schools? Catholic schools particularly in the capital are massively oversubscribed. By no means do all Catholic children go to Catholic schools. At the moment it looks as though Catholic children at non-Catholic schools will be "compelled" - the press officer's words, not mine - to attend their school's sex-education classes, no matter how objectionable, how contrary to their religion the content is. What will the Catholic Education Service do to defend their rights?

# On the DCSF's 25 member sex-education steering group, there were five people representing pro-choice sex-"education" organisations and a member of the "Independent" advisory group on Teenage Pregnancy, none from Pro Life groups, nor any experts sceptical of the benefits of sex-"education", three members of the UK Youth Parliament, which is involved in a joint venture with Brook campaigning for more sex-"education". Co-chair of the steering group was MYP Joshua McTaggart, aged 16. For all his evident precociousness I'm sceptical of young McTaggart's ability to withstand the blandishments of the sex-"educators" - he's seen here accepting a special achievement award at Brook's lavish annual awards ceremony - on the one hand while assimilating the evidence on sex-"education" on the other. In other words, it would not be unfair to say that that the steering group was stacked with sex-"education" ideologues and puppets and its conclusions pre-determined from the outset. Given this, what was the purpose of Oona Stannard's involvement in the steering group at all?

# When I interviewed Oona Stannard last year about SRE being made compulsory in state schools, I put a quotation to her from an expert on the subject. He said, "all evidence suggests that greater parental involvement with children in this area leads to lower rates of underage sexual activity and lower rates of teenage pregnancy. There is little or no evidence that SRE at school contributes to lower rates of sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. The Netherlands is often held up as an example of where sex education has led to lower teenage pregnancy rate. However, research by Professor Joost Van Loon demonstrates that, in fact, school-based sex education in the Netherlands generally starts a little later than in the UK and in fact a range of other social and economic factors explain why teenage pregnancy is lower in that country." Stannard said that she hadn't heard anything like this and asserted that "all the evidence" showed that SRE was effective at reducing teenage pregnancies. How come she wasn't aware of the totality of the research evidence on the efficacy of SRE? Who is responsible for briefing her at the CES? How can the director of the CES do her job properly if she hasn't been briefed properly and what is the CES going to do about it?

Kate said...

Ed Balls on Radio4 PM programme said that the Catholic church supported him on making all schools teach about contraception and on reducing the opt out to 15.
He also said that the CES was part of a group which recommended that sex and relationships education should be statutory. I have posted a link to the Radio4 podcast on my blog- the topic comes up at about 15.30 mins.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't publish "anonymous", even by proxy

brio910 said...

Your readers may not be aware that UKIP fully supports home schooling and its press officer Gawain Towler has helped home-schooling networks in the UK with media help and advice.

Here is the UKIP policy document from their website.

It would be interesting to hear if the LibLabCon parties have extended any support at all to homeschoolers.

Red Maria said...

Laicus: Yes, you're right, that's why I was told it will be impossible for Catholic schools to adopt any statutory PSHE framework.

Kate: You're right too. See my post beneath yours. The CES was part of the DCSF's sex "education" steering group, which is why some people consider that Oona Stannard's position is untenable.

Dilly said...

Red Maria
"Catholic children at non-Catholic schools will be "compelled" - the press officer's words, not mine - to attend their school's sex-education classes"

Oh really -that will go down well with the muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses! A few years ago we had a muslim boy who "opted out", and sat in the library on the computer accessing porn via proxy servers. His parents opted him back in with minimal fuss on being shown the printouts.

"Not much point learning about STD's".
That was the entire content of our sex education 30 years ago. I think after some of the very graphic slides I saw I would have preferred to go parachuting into Chernobyl carrying a vial of ebola virus, rather than risk getting one.

I am too angry at what you have quoted even to make a joke about it. St Michael - pray for us.

Leslie said...

I have long been anxious about the "Catholic" Education Service, isn't it a time for an Apostolic Visitation?

Red Maria said...

Dillydaydream: yes, I know, I'm sure these plans - ludicrous is the only word for them - will rightly anger a lot of people.

But as far as the authorities are concerned, so what? The strong arm of the state will force, will compel and will get its way.

I have to say that many Muslims have been far better than the useless CES at opposing this rubbish. A friend of my sister's is a devout Muslim, a good egg who takes his religion seriously; he was sending out email alerts to everyone he could think of urging them to complete the DCSF's consultation paper and make clear that they opposed idiotic sex-"education" proposals.

Leslie: LOL! But what a good idea.

Elizabeth said...


You are so right, our flagship Catholic school has very few catholic teachers. We have a moslem who proudly told the children that she converted her husband from Christianity to Islam, and the few Catholic teachers are hardly a beacon of true fidelity to the Church.

The most worrying thing is that we send our children to Catholic Schools to reinforce what they learn at home.
Well, forget it, what they learn at home about our glorious faith is all they learn!!!

At least in non-catholic schools we don't have to keep correcting doctrinal error.

Red Maria said...

Confirmed: Children will have to attend sex-ed classes at their schools ie Catholic children in non-Catholic schools will have to go to them, no matter what.

More as and when I find out.

johnf said...

There seems to be a paradox in all these government initiatives, the more sex education, the greater the teenage pregnancy rate. Or is it a glimpse of the blinding obvious?

I was waiting for my granddaughter at the bus stop a few months ago, when the children from the local middle school came streaming out and it was clear that they had had a sex education lesson. Two children were brandishing contraceptives. One small 14 yr old had managed to get the condom around his head, the other had just filled hers with water. I somehow concluded that a serious subject was not being taken seriously.

These people who carry out Sex and Relationships Education - what has been their own sexual behaviour and relationships? How may times have they slept around? Are they homosexual? Have they been divorced? Have they had abortions? My point is that if someone is going to teach children about these very delicate matters, one would wish to know what their own background and philosophical outlook is.

laicus said...

The general policy of the CES, and that of the current hierarchy, seems to be one in which the first or a major aim is to avoid confronting Caesar. Indeed, as Red Maria ponts out, their representative Oona Stannard, in pursuance of this apparent policy, was actually a member of the working party that has produced the awful Government-inspired mess in which we find ourselves as regards sex education in Catholic schools. Doubtless she sought and obtained a measure of amelioration for us, but the mess is nonetheless a mess, and an insupportable one.

For where are we now, especially as regards the dreadful new development of sex education for the very young, from five upwards? If Catholic parents do not withdraw from these sex information sessions their children who are still in what the Pontifical Council for the Family characterizes "the years of innocence" (and some parents may not), those very small ones will be subjected to what that same Pontifical Council calls "unnecessary sex information" which "compromises the spiritual, moral and emotional development of young persons who have right to their innocence".

Not very good, is it?

What is to be done now? As others have said, the task as regards older Catholic schoolchildren (for whom some moral instruction on sex is legitimate, if of the right sort) is to ensure that it is given by orthodox and faithful instructors, and not some of the types the CES seem content shall go into Catholic schools. But as regards the very young (for whom, according to the Pontifical Council, there should be no sex instruction - none), will concerted Catholic efforts be made to persuade Catholic parents to withdraw their children of that age? I would like to think so, but am not counting on it. I fear there is harm ahead for some of our very little ones.

I know there are situations in which more can be done by quiet diplomacy than by being confrontative. I know there may be serious dangers in the latter. But sometimes a polite but firm stand has to be made. Do our hierarchy never contemplate saying to this rampantly secular government "Sorry, but doing such-and-such is against our religion and our conscience, and we will not do it"? I recall Archbishop Nichols addressing the government with words of this tenor, admirably and successfully, not all that long ago; but courage and bluntness of that sort are not widespread alas, now that the wonderful Bishop O'Donoghue has retired.

As regards older children, the time has come for a stand to be made on the following. Ed Balls says that faith schools "can teach ... that you shouldn't have sex outside marriage" [oh, how kind of you, Mr Balls!] but that what faith schools cannot in future do is "to deny young persons information about contraception outside of marriage". What nonsense is this? We are to be legally compelled to instruct them in contraception whilst teaching them, as we conscientiously must, that contraception is against the teaching of the Church?! To use Eric Hester's words, "Catholics must resist this to the death".

Alex Benziger.G said...

Every theory leads to a practical, so, there must be a practical class room for the sex Education. These kind of ideas come from some poison mind, it will leads to a immoral society.

brio910 said...

Oh yes,
most parents like myself would not bother home schooling if the faith education offered in nearby Catholic schools was in any way adequate.

But it is not and so I will not send my children to be taught their faith in a nominally Catholic school.

I have come to expect nothing from the 'official' Catholic Church in Ireland except scandal, betrayal and disappointment.

I've no interest in spending the next 15 years of my life arguing with teachers and bishops for a Catholic education for my children. I will just ensure they get one as immediately as possible and advise others to do the same, with God's help.

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