A group of Christian educators have asked the UK’s education secretary to postpone the introduction of the Relationships and Sex Education programme, scheduled for summer this year.
Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, writing on behalf of the Christian Coalition For Educators (CCFE), penned a letter to Secretary of State Gavin Williamson, expressing concerns that parents had not been “properly consulted,” which is mandated by law.
“If schools are to have any chance of truly “taking their parents with them” in this, there cannot be any shadow of doubt the mandatory process has been completed properly,” wrote the former Bishop of Rochester.
Amid the difficulties brought on by the lastest national lockdown, Nazir-Ali observed that schools are already under immense pressure.
All schools need “to implement changed procedures for exams, and institute complex programmes for testing of staff and pupils,” he wrote.
The bishop thanked the Department for Education for its “most helpful guidance”, published in September last year, “on the care that must be taken in using resources in school that are not ‘partisan’ or ‘political’.”
However, he noted that schools would need further time to “assess and consult with parents fully” in light of the changes.
Speaking to advocacy group Christian Concern, Nazir-Ali stated that parents’ beliefs about education should be respected, as they were ultimately responible for the upbringing of their children.
“Parents have the right to expect that their children will be taught according to their religious and philosophical beliefs. The State and schools are strictly ancillary to parental responsibility for the upbringing of their children and both must listen carefully to what parents are saying if the world of education is to be one of mutual respect and harmony,” he said.
“Pupils,” it reads, “should leave school with a proper understanding of the importance of equality and respecting and understanding differences. This includes differences in religion, belief, or sexual orientation.”
Though RSE became compulsory in September 2020, its implementation was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.