Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Support the BHA on sex education and primary science education

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Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

The British Humanist Association is currently involved in consultation with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority over two key areas concerning education which you can help support.

It is proposed that Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, which includes sex and relationship education (SRE), would be made compulsory in both primary and secondary schools. The BHA supports the proposals, although there are two key areas of contention. Firstly, it is proposed that "Parents, carers or guardians should continue to have the right to withdraw their child from SRE". The BHA is arguing against this:
"There is a large and growing body of opinion amongst health care and educational professionals which sees compulsory SRE in all schools as vital in tackling issues such as the increase in sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. We believe it is crucial that PSHE, including SRE, become a statutory part of the National Curriculum and be treated like any other National Curriculum subject – with no parental right of withdrawal. Children and young people’s right to education about themselves and others in the context of PSHE should be paramount."
Secondly, the QCA propose that "Governing bodies should retain the right to determine their school’s approach to the sex and relationship education (SRE) aspect of PSHE, so that it can be ‘... delivered in line with the context, values and ethos of the school’." Again, the BHA is contesting this, as it would "allow faith schools to water down the entitlement. The BHA website lists a number of ways in which you can help with this campaign, which include writing to your MP and participating in the QCA public consultation.

The BHA is also involved in consultation with the QCA on a review of the primary curriculum, following the publication of a report which recommends a curriculum composed of six key areas, one of which would be "scientific and technological understanding". While welcoming the report, the BHA has expressed concern about the failure to mention evolution or natural selection in the proposed scientific curriculum area:
"The BHA believes that the theory of evolution – arguably the single most important idea underlying the life sciences today – must be included in the primary curriculum. The wealth of new educational resources on evolution available for children of primary school age demonstrates their ability to grasp the simpler concepts associated with it, anda basic understanding of evolution will help lay the foundation for a surer scientific understanding at key stage 3. With 2009 being the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, the omission of evolution from the primary curriculum is scandalous."
Again, the BHA website lists several ways in which you can help with the campaign.


sushiguru said...

I'm assuming that this only relates to schools in England, since education is devolved in Scotland and Wales (I have no clue who looks after education in NI).

I would, however, be interested to know what the current situation is for Scotland, and if there is anything I can do here to help in this area?