Steve Beegoo, our Head of Education, comments on what parents need to be aware of to protect their parental rights, particularly as children now head back to school.
Parents are being cut out of the full consultation of the Relationship, Sex and Health Education content which will be delivered to children from next month. We are hearing from many parents, who are rightly asking, ‘what will be taught to my child?’ Every school has been mandated to begin implementing their RSE policy from this academic year.
The reopening guidance explained that schools could have leeway to focus on ‘health’ as they teach RSHE, given the pandemic, and that schools should be “introducing a more comprehensive RSHE programme in September 2021.” But many schools are still yet to fully comply with the government guidance which not only requires the policy to be shown to parents, but as stated, “Schools should also ensure that, when they consult with parents, they provide examples of the resources that they plan to use.”
Christians parents believe they have a unique responsibility for the education of their children. The government has given recognition to this in this crucial and sensitive area, where several schools have already delivered confusing and sexualising content. However, this respect for parental authority is, in many cases, being ignored, and the rights afforded to parents to raise children in accordance with their own religious convictions is being superseded by ideologues in UK schools and local authorities. Children are being exposed to deeply disturbing content from Mermaids, Stonewall and organisations such as It Happens, without any proper ability for parents to scrutinise the teaching.
We have become aware in the last month, through leaked documents, how Stonewall is currently targeting primary schools, especially Christian schools. Already, hundreds of schools have become Stonewall Champions. Click this link to discover if your local school is one of these. The government issued guidance in September, which should have resulted in much greater scrutiny being given to schools who might consider using such external organisations and their resources where the content could be seen as partisan or inappropriate, especially with regards to transgender ideology.
Last month, supported by Christian Concern, the Christian Coalition for Education (CCFE) wrote to the secretary of state for Education, Gavin Williamson, requesting that RSHE implementation be postponed until September. We highlighted that the parental consultations were not able to be fully engaged with, partly due to the pandemic. We have also now commissioned letters to go to the majority of headteachers of primary and secondary schools, reminding them of their responsibility to consult fully with parents on the RSHE curriculum.
We are highlighting that schools may be taken to court, should they seek to disregard parental rights, as in the case of Izzy Montague and others. If you are a parent, now is the time to raise your voice with your school, asking for access to any materials and content, or you may miss your final opportunity. If you would like advice on how to do this, please check this link.
At the same time as this erosion of parental freedoms is occurring, there is a simultaneous challenge to parents who have chosen to home educate. For many parents, the choice to take children out from the state provision has become an important British freedom to make use of. In Portsmouth, the first aggressive challenge from a local authority on what monitoring of content should be required is now underway. Never before has content been required to be scrutinised in this way in the family home. The Department for Education has stated,
“The department will be happy to support local authorities to test the boundaries of current case law through discussion with them of potentially difficult home education cases which they are contemplating bringing before the courts.”
Ruth Barber from the Christian Home Education Support Service explains,
“It is important that home educators are not pressured by overzealous LEA officers into providing more than is required by the Government guidelines. This is often requested immediately after deregistration when many families are extremely new to home education and therefore at their most vulnerable. These bullying tactics must not be allowed to continue!”
The decision as to what can and should be taught to children is being increasingly taken away from Christian parents. We encourage any parents or staff who have concerns that the authority and responsibility of parents is being undermined through their school or by their local authority, to contact the Christian Legal Centre, so that you may receive professional advice and support.
Please do consider donating to Christian Concern, as we seek to finance court cases being prepared, and to provide staff to work in this area.
We must also pray. Our children are so precious, and we must call out to God for victory in protecting them from the enemy. Our God is able to provide the support we need as parents, as teachers, and as a Christian community as we stand in the gap for our children.