Dangerous Baggage

Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri

SRE In Schools

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Some time ago I was informed of a presentation at a local school as part of the Safe At School campaign run by SPUC and was asked if I would attend and report back by a member of the BHA.

The content sounded interesting and being an average person who takes a keen interest in the future of the human race (and other small issues like that) knowing how the next generation are being educated, I believe, is of paramount importance. In this vein I apprehensively attended, feeling like I was stepping outside of my comfort zone into territories unknown.

It was a rather enlightening experience. I did some pre-event research of course and saw that the event was advertised as being supported by no less than 5 Muslim organisations. So perhaps I should have been a little more prepared for the primarily Muslim demographic in the audience.

Now the presentation, run by Antonia Tully, was advertised as a meeting for parents to express concerns about sexualisation of their children in schools, specifically pertaining to sex education in primary schools. The advertisement as a meeting however was false, this was indeed a presentation, a one sided presentation, after which there could be no ambiguity in what the audience should believe.

The other side of the argument was not represented either by Ms Tully nor by an additional guest speaker (she was the only speaker) – perhaps a primary school teacher would have been able to balance out the evening?

A glaring detail was that a primarily Muslim audience was being addressed. Now my opinions about organised religion as a whole aside, I fully concede that many of the sincere and pious members of almost every religion are indeed brilliant, caring and loving people who have every right to their faith and I would not only accept that but would indeed defend it. Our rights to our personal beliefs, to our personal faith and to religious freedom is just as much involved as our rights to freedom of speech, thought and expression. I admit that I do not know whether Muslim groups invited SPUC to present here or whether SPUC is targeting Muslim communities specifically to exploit their religious beliefs about sex. I sincerely hope the latter is not the case, I really do, that would be a very slippery move indeed.

I observed during the presentation a nasty insinuation being made; a stranger showing these primary school resources to your child would constitute paedophilia, but school teachers are protected from prosecution in this case by legislation. This was rather sickening. The idea that primary school teachers can get away with acts that would be considered paedophilia outside of school would be deeply offensive to all primary school teachers that I have ever met. Trained and caring professionals who are far more aware of the law and of the vulnerability of children than most. Primary school teachers take the extremely sensitive issue of teaching sex to young children very seriously and the subtle implications raised during this presentation were disgraceful.

The conclusion of the evening was that the top 3 resources for primary sex education in this country are sexualising young children. Parents were told to approach their children’s school in an open and communicative manner and, if one of the top 3 is being taught, ask them to change it (at this point no alternative teaching resource was suggested). If the school refuses to change their teaching resource then you should withdraw your child from sex education.

I could say more and may well do one day. I’ll leave the reader to draw conclusions from this point on.

Why Mention It?
I’ll readily admit that I’m not a teacher nor am I debating legislation, nor am I a school governor. I have a vested interest in the education system due to my being human and that’s where it ends I’m afraid. I’m no expert and will leave the discussion of technical points to other more experienced and qualified parties.

I mention it because the BHA may well make some noise about this at a national level and it is absolutely critical to me that this debate is held publicly and fairly with the relevant experts present. I fully support the work of bringing this to the public’s attention and will, without hesitation nor conceit, put my name to my actions and to the words I’ve written in support of the BHA’s stance.

If anything I’ve written or done is offensive to the Muslim community who were the audience at this presentation then I can only sincerely apologise and hope that is accepted by the individuals and by the whole on the basis that I meant no ill intent toward you.

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Written by matthaughton

October 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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