Seminar for councillors to understand Welsh Government sex education policy
Katy Jenkins, Local Democracy Reporter
A seminar will be arranged for councillors to understand the relationships and sex education (RSE) content planned for the new curriculum in schools.
Pembrokeshire councillor Viv Stoddart’s Notice of Motion that a “seminar be provided for members enabling them to be fully informed of the RSE content of the new curriculum” was approved at full council yesterday (13 October).
Cllr Stoddart added that RSE had been “controversial,” and it was important that councillors had all the information in order to respond to constituents.
Members were told there would be no debate of the RSE content itself, but cabinet member Cllr Guy Woodham did refer to “misinformation” about the subject as he argued that a seminar be delayed until a judicial review is concluded.
A judicial review is due to be held next month regarding the lack of parental choice in whether their child participates in RSE or not.
Cllr Andrew Edwards tabled a question to council on that matter, asking “does the cabinet member for education agree that the parental rights should be withdrawn over the new RSE curriculum?”
Cllr Woodham said the new curriculum was consulted on before implementation of the curriculum assessment act in 2021.
It was not a decision for him whether parental rights should be withdrawn because the act makes clear there “is no right to withdraw” and as cabinet member he supports schools in providing the statutory curriculum.
A further Notice of Motion was put forward by Cllr Rhys Jordan, stating: “The Leader / The Member for Education & Welsh Language write a letter to the Minister for Education at Welsh Government expressing that as an authority Pembrokeshire County Council do not support or condone the removal of the historic rights of parents or guardians to withdraw their child / children from certain subjects being taught as part of the new RSE curriculum if they deem it to be inappropriate.”
This was referred to cabinet.
An ‘extraordinary’ council meeting lived up to its name when a debate over sex education in schools erupted into chaos in Caernarfon earlier this year.
The public gallery was cleared by police and councillors were held back in the Gwynedd Council chamber for ‘safety reasons’ at the end of the highly charged meeting on Thursday, August 25.
Emotions were running high as events unfolded during tense discussions over the Relationship and Education Curriculum.
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Sex education must be compulsory. From my own experience, I am 81 years old. I had no sex education at school or at home. The only advice I had was from my mother at my wedding reception ” Buy yourself a washable condom”. That’s all. I had to learn on the job, so to speak!!