Peers in the House of Lords have expressed their deep misgivings about government plans to make Relationships and Sex Education compulsory in schools.
During a debate, a number of Peers said that the plans undermine parents and must not ‘indoctrinate’ children. However, despite the concerns, the House of Lords approved the proposals.
During the debate, Lord Curry said that ‘the responsibility for children’s moral and religious education lies first and foremost with parents’.
He added, ‘That is not a role that the state should be taking to itself. We in this place should not be cutting across or undermining the influence of parents’.
He also voiced concerns about the ability of teachers with religious beliefs to express their own views.
Former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern highlighted Article 2 of the first protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which says the Government has a duty to ensure that teaching does not disregard the convictions of parents.
Quoting a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights, he said, ‘The State is forbidden to pursue an aim of indoctrination that might be considered as not respecting parents’ religious and philosophical convictions. That is the limit that must not be exceeded’.
Lord Morrow urged the Government to do ‘all they can to empower parents’, rather than undermine their authority and responsibility over their children.
Lord Hodgson, a member of the Committee scrutinising the regulations, highlighted the unprecedented level of correspondence it had received, with over 400 people expressing ‘serious concerns’.
A Government consultation showed widespread opposition to the Relationships and Sex Education proposals.
More than 11,000 people responded, with 58 per cent saying the proposed content for Relationships Education in primary schools was not ‘age-appropriate’.
Even more, 64 per cent, said the same about Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools.
However, Education Secretary Damian Hinds is pushing ahead with the plans, ignoring the large number of objections.
The new guidelines are set to come into force from September 2020, although some schools are being encouraged to start as early as September this year.
Mike Judge, editor