Tag Archives: Conservative

Sex Ed at Seven?

The wonderful area of the curriculum known as sex education, or to give it it’s full title ‘sex and relationships education’, the topic that receives much debate over when we should start teaching our children.

Well the Liberal Democrats have recently spoken out that all children in England’s state schools should receive lessons on this topic from the age of 7 years old, so basically Year 3. The idea behind this is that so long as the lessons are age-appropriate, it is all part of the government’s idea of building a ‘curriculum for life’ which will also include Citizenship and money management. The idea is backed by Labour although they suggest that the Lib Dems have not delivered it so far.

Under the Lib Dem plans, which will be included in the party’s manifesto for next year’s general election, schools would be required to offer lessons on sex and relationships in Key Stage 2 – which includes children aged seven to 11. The party also plans to make all state-run secondary schools offer the lessons, which form part of the wider area known as personal, social and health education (PSHE).

At present, state secondary schools run by local authorities must offer sex and relationships education, but free schools and academies are not required to do so. Lib Dem schools minister David Laws said: “It is vitally important that children learn all the life skills they need when they are at school, and Liberal Democrats believe that this should include learning financial literacy, citizenship and age-appropriate sex and relationship education. We have long made the case, both inside and outside government, for updated sex and relationship education to be taught in all schools, including academies and free schools, but it is not something the Conservatives are open to. We believe that by educating children about sex and relationships in an appropriate way, we can help them to make informed choices in their personal lives.”

The Labour Party said it had been calling for the move for years and that the Lib Dems had voted against a similar proposal when the opposition tabled it in the House of Lords earlier this year.

“Violence in young relationships is a huge issue as is preventing violence in future relationships,” said shadow Home Office minister Seema Malhotra. “Only through ideas like compulsory sex and relationship education can we tackle the root causes of domestic abuse and give young people the tools and support they need to make informed decisions about their lives. It is welcome that the Lib Dems have finally caught onto this agenda but they have had four years in government to take some action and have failed.”

The Department for Education said sex and relationships education was an “important part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain”. “Sex and relationship education is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and many primary schools also teach it in an age appropriate manner,” a spokeswoman said. “We also expect academies and free schools to deliver relationship education as part of their provision of a broad and balanced curriculum. We have also made financial literacy compulsory for the first time ever for 11-to-16 year olds, which will cover the importance of budgeting, sound money management and how different financial services work.”

The row over the Head of Ofsted role

One story that has gripped the national headlines of late has been the dispute over the non-renewal of Labour Baroness Morgan’s role as Head of Ofsted by Michael Gove.

It is not yet known who will take over the role, but nonetheless a row has still broken out.

Baroness Morgan claims that she was a victim of a ‘determined effort from Number 10’ to appoint more Tories into the top political jobs. From the outside, this may not seem so surprising, given that we have a Liberal-conservative coalition government at this present time.

Another argument that has arisen from this comes from David Laws. He argues that actually, the inspectorate shouldn’t in fact be political at all, as it is supposed to be an independent organisation. He too argues that Baroness Morgan’s removal was politically minded. A source close to him said: “The decision to get rid of Sally Morgan had absolutely nothing to do with her abilities, or even education policy, and everything to do with Michael Gove’s desire to get his own people on board. David Laws is absolutely determined not to let Michael Gove undermine the independence of this vital part of the education system.”

Of course, Michael Gove is desperate now to try and defend his decision. He argues that the decision to remove Baroness Morgan was entirely his and had absolutely nothing to do with Number 10. He told the Andrew Marr Show: “I think she’s done a really good job. I think that she and the chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw are a fantastic team. But one of the things I feel – and across government – is that from time to time you need to refresh the person who is in charge of an organisation.”

On top of that, he adds that Baroness Morgan had come to the end of her three-year term as Ofsted chairwoman and it was good corporate practice not to automatically reappoint people – a different person could come in with a “new perspective” and make sure there were “tough questions asked”.

Mr Gove pointed out that he had appointed Baroness Morgan in the first place, knowing she was Labour, adding: “It’s also the case that we’ve recently appointed a former Labour special advisor Simon Stevens to head the NHS. Now when we come to appoint the new head of Ofsted I will appoint, and we will appoint, on merit.”

Here is something that I reckon he’s hoping that we will not notice. One thing he did not do was rule out the possibility of Tory donor Theodore Agnew as the next in line for the job. Of course it would be wrong to rule out a suitable candidate based on their political allegiances, but it does look suspect when a Tory is the only real reported candidate to replace Baroness Morgan. I bet Gove’s hoping that another candidate who isn’t a Tory announces themselves as a candidate to take over.

So what Mr Gove that a former labour special advisor is now the head of the NHS? What about the non-tories who were removed from bodies such as the Arts Council and Charity Commission and replaced with … you guessed it … tories? There is no way of avoiding the fact that it does look very suspect from the outside.

Harriet Harman takes the argument even further. Ms Harman claims that there was a trend that women in senior authoritative posts were losing their positions and being replaced by men. Gove hit back by saying the Tories have had a female prime minister, and had appointed these women to senior positions in the first place, including Baroness Morgan.

I’m all for the idea of Ofsted not being political at all, in fact I think education as a whole should not be political at all. Stories like this for me really provide clear arguments why. Why should a politician decide what the needs for our children are?