Sex education at Herefordshire school under fire

COUNTY council chiefs have serious concerns over a sex and relationship resource which is being taught at St Mary’s Roman Catholic High School in Lugwardine.

The Catholic sex and relationship resource A Fertile Heart, which has the approval of the Archdiocese of Cardiff, says contraception is wrong, that gay and lesbian people cannot marry and must abstain from sex.

It also says that men were ‘created to initiate sexual relationships’ and women to be ‘receiver-responders’.

Herefordshire Council’s children and families cabinet member Felicity Norman, says she has serious concerns about the use of The Fertile Heart in any of the county’s schools.

“It seems to be at odds with the essential role of a school to foster caring and cooperative relations between all children and staff, to respect differences and to support and encourage children as they negotiate the difficulties of adolescence.

“We are disturbed at the failure of the Archdiocese of Cardiff, responsible for directing its schools as to what it teaches, to respond to us over this or other matters concerning the safeguarding of children, in spite of attempts on our part to engage with them.

“The Local Authority has no power over what schools under the Archdiocese of Cardiff choose to teach within Herefordshire.”

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Headteacher Stuart Wetson said St Mary’s is a Catholic school and their relationships and sex education policy is inspired by religious teachings of the Roman Catholic faith.

“In accordance with the Department for Education’s guidance on Relationships and Sex Education, we are committed to providing our pupils with opportunities for broad and balanced debate on a range of issues whilst teaching distinctive faith perspectives on relationships.

“We continue to review and evaluate our practice, sharing feedback from teachers, pupils and parents with the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the publishers of key resources.

“Please see our most recent Ofsted and Section 48 Inspection reports, which comment directly on our ‘Outstanding’ provision in all areas.”

The Archdiocese of Cardiff has not responded to requests for comment.

Last Novermber, MP Stella Creasy asked the Secretary of State for Education whether the materials published on the website A Fertile Heart are permitted to be used in schools according to the Government guidance.

Minister of State for Schools Nick Gibb said it is for schools to decide which resources they choose to support the teaching of RSHE.

He said the Departmen for Education’s ‘Plan your relationships, sex and health curriculum’ implementation guidance, building on the content of the statutory RSHE guidance, includes clear advice on choosing resources.

“The implementation guidance also advises schools to exercise caution when working with external agencies, including ensuring they have full confidence in any agency’s approach and the resources it uses.

“The Department has stated that schools should not work with agencies that take extreme positions, and this should also be reflected in the school’s choice of resources.”

Hereford Times