Friday, November 07, 2008

Sex Ed: Catholicmomof10 agonistes

Briefing: Catholicmomof10, Jackie Parkes, has been posting a series of very interesting items about sex education, the Connexions agency in Catholic schools, and the willingness of her local Catholic school to invite Clare Short, fresh from her voting in favour of the HFA Bill, to give out awards and deliver a talk. Here are a couple of highlights on the important issue of Connexion (see this post here):

A COMMENT defending Connexions:

Jackie, in any Catholic school the Governors are responsible for the ethos of the school being maintained - that's their job, as far as the Church is concerned.

Of course they also have to comply with the law, so have to provide a careers service, and no state school has the funding to create its own careers service - so Connexions has been the only realistic option.

If Governors have failed to prevent Connexions providing other material as well, that is a matter for parents to raise with the Governors of their schools. CES has no authority in this respect - it can only advise. It does so; and it has published a protocol which, if enforced by Schools, prevents Connexions from distributing unsuitable literature.

The experience at our school is that, when informed clearly of the issues, Connexions respect the protocol - the system put into place by CES works. We still, as Governors, overview materials they bring into school, as we do for any other outside agency; it is an agenda item at every meeting (six per year) of the relevant Governors' Committee.

If your school is not enforcing the protocol, take it up with the Governors: if they are not willing to act then take it up with the Bishop who appointed them. Get involved - most schools are short of Governors, or at least of potential successors to existing Governors.

This however is not true: it is perfectly possible to keep Connexions out of a school; once they are in they give advice 'in confidence' and are required to do so BY LAW. If a child wants an abortion, they will help. Eric Hester writes an illuminating letter to Mrs Parkes:

Dear Jackie,


The argument in favour of Connections seems to be: a school must have a careers service; Connexions is the only one; therefore Catholic schools must have Connexions; since it has a protocol everything will be fine and dandy.

As one that has been headmaster and/or governor of Catholic schools since 1975, I must say that there are a number of non-sequiturs here. A secondary school may decide to provide careers advice but many of them do this quite well from within their own staff. If a school wishes to involve an outside agency, then it can choose from several. The independent careers services will be quite happy to work in maintained schools and are not expensive. Connexions is, actually, a very poor career service, in my opinion.

It should be noted, too, that someone from Connexions, giving advice about where to go for sixth form education will not see it as very important to go to a Catholic institution.

However, even if governors were told that they would be fined if they did not have an outside agency, and even if Connexions were the best careers advisory service in the history of the universe, then Connexions should not be allowed in schools. This is, inter alia, because of its appalling advice given on its website to use the Family Planning Authority for sex advice. See

I do not blame heads and governors; they are hard-working and would rely on the CES to advise them. That trust has been betrayed. I challenge any Catholic to defend the Connexions website.

Eric Hester

Previous discussion here

No comments:

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen