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Thursday, 23 October 2008

Sex lessons for tiny tots – shock horror!

Lazy Journalism Department again. Martha Carney was in the chair for The World at One on BBC Radio 4 today. I’m not blaming her. It was probably in her script. But she could have questioned it.

The subject was the government’s intention to introduce more into sex lessons. As things stand, reproduction and biology are covered in science lessons, but the government wants to get to the nitty-gritty of relationships. Such subject matter is already part of the education system in Wales and is compulsory in Northern Ireland but not in England. Scotland doesn’t have any legal requirement.

So biology, yes. Reproduction, yes. But the relationships side of things is what the government wants to see schools addressing.

A BBC website report says:

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the review of sex lessons had identified “a need to challenge the perception that sex and relationships education happened in a ‘moral vacuum’ in schools and says that parents and schools can and should work together to decide how best topics should be taught”.

It said updated guidance would also be produced covering the content of the PSHE [personal, social and health education] curriculum, based on the existing non-statutory programme.

As you would expect, “Christian groups” are up in arms. And here’s where the crap journalism comes in. “Christian groups” (plural), said Carney, are complaining. Then we get “Stephen Green of Christian Voice . . .”

Er, where are the other Christian groups, Martha? OK, we don’t expect you to interview them all, but all you’ve managed to cite is this nutty little outfit run by Stephen Green and his dog – the very Stephen “Birdshit” green who is always wheeled on, it seems, when you want to create a bit of a controversy. What about bringing on a Christian group – if you must – that has a more balanced view on the matter?

Well, the government has certainly got religious groups in mind with this proposal.

“Faith groups, for example,” says the Schools Minister Jim Knight, “will want to produce supplementary guidance on top of our guidance, in order to say to their own schools [. . .] how they should then deliver that programme of study in a way that's sympathetic to their moral beliefs, their faith beliefs, in those schools.”

So “faith” is going to be allowed to get in the way of proper education. Ho hum. ’Twas ever thus.

One thing is puzzling me. On that BBC page linked to above is what journos call a crosshead – a small subheading in the text. At the time I accessed the page, at about 2.03 p.m. today, one of them said “Wickedness”, in quotation marks. Search as I might, I could not find a reference to wickedness, quoted or otherwise.*

I’m sure we’d all love to know!
* At a later date the "Wickedness" crosshead was removed. Maybe the BBC are reading this blog. More likely that someone else has pointed it out.

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