Schools of Thought

It is not just the politicians, campaigners or even parents who are divided over sex education and abstinence: schools too have completely different approaches on how to go about this issue.

At St Peter’s – a Catholic school in Bournemouth – sex education is a part of religious education, which is often the case with most of the catholic and other religious schools. The school has their own programme, such as talking about puberty in year seven and about physical and emotional changes in year eight and nine.

Reasons to abstain

According to Gregory Hogan, the school’s Religious Education teacher, they do talk about the possibility of abortions and sexually transmitted diseases but everything is guided by the Catholic Church’s stance on relationships.

“We look at the Christian understanding of sex inside marriages as proper place of sexual activity and open (sic) this to children as well,” he says.

Sex outside marriage is considered as a mortal sin by the Catholic Church alongside artificial contraceptive methods and abortions but natural family planning methods are permissible.

Watch: A Tale of Two Schools

Portchester School, an all boys school in Bournemouth, runs a SexEd day for year 10, where boys are shown how to use a condom.

Len Idle, the Assistant Headteacher says: “We are an all boys school and so are keen to challenge some common perceptions, sometimes reinforced by cultural or ethnic  issues.  Our boys are equal partners. We have to challenge stereotypes about men, women and relationships.

But Lisa Cousins, Bournemouth Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Coordinator, hopes that a uniform sex education policy for schools is implemented.  She says that although sex and relationship education is statutory at secondary level in England but the schools are autonomous to decide the duration, extent the kind of curriculum they want.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Schools of Thought

  1. Shrutika Tekawade

    I think we should have a uniform sex and relationship education policy across the schools. It is unfair that some kids will not get proper access to information just because their parents decided to send them to a particular school.

  2. Thank you for commenting, Shrutika. I get your point as a lot of people think that these rights of children should be treated no less than basic human rights. But I can imagine the difficulty in implementing a uniform policy: people who set up these schools have different social and religious beliefs, and even they can claim that it is their right to preach what they believe in. It’s a tricky area but young people do need reliable information to make the correct decisions, irrespective of which side of the ideological compass it comes from.

    • Your video interview is a good one.. if sex education must be implemented, let there not be gender discrimination – girls n boys both should receive it… but the question of ethnographic profile of the learners is much more important.. i don’t know if a uniform structure can address that….

      • i think the point here is uniform message. the modes of imparting that message might or might not be different. it calls for a well-considered approach towards ‘behaviour change’… content should remain the same, packaging may vary…

  3. Dipali Saikia

    I believe that every institutes should have a common structured program for sex education. It should ensure that a child benefits out of it not more or not less giving a biased knowledge on the subject.

  4. Thank you Dipali for expressing your views. Several people hae called for a structured, statutory and uniform policy on education. Butas I pointed to Shrutika above, it won’t be easy to implement. But I agree there should be an open debate in the civil society about this.

  5. If a curriculum is designed to teach students about changes in their physical self, the hormones, the protections involved, etc…I dont see what’s the harm on it…I’d rather have my child being told by a worthy teacher what sex is than him coming to know through some sleazy website on the internet….The message will anyway reach the children…how and what way this message has to reach is something we as parents will have to decide…

  6. Here also I see an interesting debate building up… but, you see guys, let alone the religious grounds – i’m not going to touch that point, the advocates of uniform sex education curriculum are taking the subject out of social context. The whole idea of sex education is about access to information – when, how much and in what manner. How the kids will actually put to use the information they receive @ school depends a lot on their social context which is a sum total of each individual kid’s ethnic, socio-economic, linguistic, cultural and undeniably, religious background. If all these factors can not uniform, how can the the sex education curriculum be uniform…?

    Let’s not forget that, unlike other academic disciplines, sex education is a completely different ball game. I do not think it can be uniform. If we really need to introduce sex education for children, their ethno-cultural, and socio-economic as well as religious background should be taken into consideration.

    Just one pill for all is NOT going work…..!

  7. Thank you for going through the entire website and expressing your views, Opal! I agree a healthy debate is going on here, which was one of the aims of the site as well. Before we formulate and implement any policy, a discussion of its pros and cons and long-term consequences keeping in mind the socio-cultural sensitivity is a must. I will reiterate that I understand the problems of a uniform policy in the UK, especially with different goverenments with devolved powers in regions and different problems and social-ethinic make up of those regions. But we also have to keep in mind that because of differences, knowledge should not be a victim. I guess creating a fine balance is not easy, certainly not in this case.

    • And thank you for liking the video as well! Where gender discrimination is concerned, even Nadine Dorries’ supporters agree that any kind of sex education -abstinence or otherwise – should be taught to boys as well. Girls should not be made the only moral gatekeepers. Cheers!

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