Many local parents are celebrating after a controversial sex education programme was dropped by Warwickshire Council following a legal challenge. The "All About Me" initiative contained explicit images and had previously been described as "too sex-focused."
Part of the teaching, which was geared towards year four pupils - aged eight and nine - talked openly about when it is appropriate for students "to touch themselves, including self-stimulation." In response, the Christian Institute threatened legal action against the council, insisting that schools were being put at risk of breaching their legal obligations as a result of being pressured to roll out the teaching.
Christian Institute said of the programme: "Among its false assertions were that gender identity 'can be best understood as being a spectrum' and 'transgender children have the right to use whichever toilet or changing room they feel most comfortable using'. It also encouraged schools not to inform parents if their children would be sharing overnight accommodation with pupils of the opposite sex while on residential trips, and to conceal a child’s transgender status from their own parents – contrary to parental rights protected under the Human Rights Act 1998."
Disturbed by the content, the Institute’s lawyers called on the council in January to “withdraw the policy with immediate effect and contact all schools using the policy to make clear to them that their continued adoption of the policy could lead to them breaching their legal obligations."
Two months later, the council responded, stating that they were axing the programme "with immediate effect."
They said: “It is proposed that delivery of [All About Me] in primary schools would cease with immediate effect and a stakeholder engagement and communications plan would be included as part of an exit strategy for the closure of [All About Me] delivery.”
The council will now use Department for Education’s (DfE) national resources, which are still in development. These guidelines ensure pupils learn the importance of marriage “for family life and the bringing up of children" and that "the education is appropriate having regard to the age and the religious background of the pupils." Schools must also consult parents to “ensure that the policy meets the needs of pupils and parents and reflects the community they serve.”
According to the Christian Institute, local parents were quick to welcome the news.
“This is not before time” said one. “My wife and I were deeply troubled by the explicit nature of some of the All About Me materials – and the ideology underpinning them.
“We don’t want our children being taught about masturbation, explicit sexual content or experimental transgender ideas in school.
“For a long time, it felt like the council didn't want to listen to the concerns of many reasonable parents; we’re glad and relieved that they have now withdrawn this programme.”
Another added: “I’m delighted. These materials were never suitable for children. They always seemed to be more concerned with indoctrination than education.
“We’ll have to see what the Education Department come up with. Hopefully it will be a lot better than All About Me.”
John Denning, education officer at The Christian Institute, said all parents must be made aware of the changes immediately:
“Warwickshire’s climb-down will come as welcome news to hundreds of concerned parents.
“The highly explicit imagery and one-sided ideology of All About Me has no place in primary Relationships Education.
“Schools are obviously facing a challenging time at the moment. But as soon as they can, they must consult with parents on a different approach to teaching RSE which complies with the law.
“As with other teaching in state schools, it must be balanced, objective and critical, not pushing particular controversial views such as transgender ideology.”
In October last year, Conservative MP Mark Pawsey expressed concern about the teaching material during a speech in the House of Commons. He said: "I have been shown the parent handout for the All About Me programme and it appears that some of the content goes beyond the necessary relationship education and into sex education, which is inappropriate for young children."