Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, has said that parents will be able to withdraw their children from sex education classes.
His predecessor, Justine Greening, had wanted sex education to be compulsory and universal. This had raised concerns as the government plans to extend “sex and relationships education” to children as young as four.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Mr Hinds said: “There is an established right for parents to withdraw their children from sex education”. The “science curriculum”, he added, referring to biology lessons covering human reproduction, is “a different matter”.
When the Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman suggested to Mr Hinds that he was reversing Ms Greening’s policy, “he shrug[ged] acknowledgment”.
Mr Hinds also confirmed his intention to abolish the admissions cap which prevents new Catholic schools from opening. Current regulations prevent free schools from reserving more than 50 per cent of places for children of any one religion. The Catholic bishops have said that this makes it impossible to open Catholic free schools. The Tories had promised to abolish the cap in their 2017 manifesto, but during Ms Greening’s tenure the promise seemed to have been put on hold.
Mr Hinds, who himself went to a Catholic school and is a Mass-goer, told the Sunday Times: “I’m interested in having good school places and that includes schools with a religious aspect. Where there is parental demand and where there is a need for places, I want it to be possible to create those new schools.”
The minister also defended a head teacher who faced a backlash after banning the hijab for girls under eight. Mr Hinds said that while he wanted schools to “consult with and consider the communities they serve”, the abuse the head teacher had received was “abhorrent”.
Refuge helps to jail traffickers
A Catholic refuge for trafficked women has played a crucial roe in bringing two modern-day slave traders to justice.
Three residents of Caritas Bakhita House, who were originally trafficked from Romania, gave evidence at two recent trials. Two of their captors were given 14 years, another 12 years, and two others shorter sentences.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund