New school guidelines assert marriage as ideal

15 December 2011

by Margaret Holness Education Correspondent

THE new generation of state-funded but independently run free schools and academies are to be told that they will gain government support only if they teach the importance of mar­riage for family life, it has been reported.

They must also ensure that pupils are protected from “inappropriate teaching materials” in sex and relationships education. The advice is spelled out in a clause in the Free School Model Funding Agreement and the Academy Model Funding Agreement, which is binding on schools.

The clause sets out new rules on sex and relationships education which are significantly more con­serv­ative than current guidance, which dates from 2000. The develop­ment has been welcomed by critics of the use of explicit sex-education materials in primary schools, includ­ing the widely used Channel 4 DVD Living and Growing. But the presid­ent of the National Secular Society, Terry San­derson, said: “For children brought up by unmarried parents or single parents, being told marriage is the only valid family arrangement will be contra­dict­ory to everything they know about the world.”

The content of Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE), which includes lessons on sex and relation­ships, in schools other than free schools and acad­emies, is currently under review as part of the wider re-modelling of the National Cur­riculum.

A spokeswoman for the Church of England said: “The Church is com­pletely supportive of compulsory programmes of PSHE. . . Naturally we expect the content of PSHE and sex education in church schools will be set firmly within the framework of Christian teaching, which stresses the importance of a faithful marriage as the best framework for sex.”

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