Brighton Hove Green Party today called on their council to send copies of the government’s new guidance on Sex Relationships Education to all local schools.
The guidance breaks important new ground, by explicitly recommending that primary schools acknowledge lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identities within families, and that secondary schools acknowledge that some of their students will be starting to identify as LGBT.
However, the government have no plans to print any copies, and have hidden it away on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) website, according to the Green Party.
Nigel Tart, the party’s LGBT spokesperson and himself a teacher, attributed the work to formed Labour minister Stephen Twigg, who lost his seat at the 2005 general election, but criticised the government’s education ministers for “sweeping it under the carpet.”
Mr Tart said: “This progressive guidance is clearly a legacy of Stephen Twigg, from when he was Minister for Schools. The current education ministers seem to be sweeping it under the carpet!
“From a very young age, children are exposed to homophobia, and too often it is left unchallenged: there is now evidence that homophobic bullying occurs at KS2.”
The guidance is available on the QCA website, but the search engine initially finds older guidance, the reference number to find the document is 1695.
It states, “Be aware of the diversity of family circumstances in the class and ensure that all types of family are talked about and valued. This could include children who are looked after in local authority care and children with same-sex parents.
“Some pupils may feel confused about their feelings or may already identify themselves as LGBT. It is important to be sensitive to the needs of all pupils in the class and work within the school’s equal opportunities ethos.”
However, Lucy Marcovitch, a PSHE Subject adviser at the QCA, said: “There has in fact been a recent print run of the units, with two copies being sent to every local authority PSHE adviser in England in the week before Easter. Schools can obtain further print copies of the units at a small cost by contacting the QCA orderline.
“The units are indicated clearly on the PSHE pages of the QCA website which are more accessible than going through the search engine.
“Far from trying to bury the guidance, QCA always makes its publications available on the QCA website. This is the first such guidance of its kind, and QCA has been promoting and disseminating it widely through conference and workshops with teachers, advisers, and other colleagues, and with its PSHE and Healthy schools networks.
“We remain very committed to continuing to promote the units and the activities and messages contained within them and helping schools to develop an effective PSHE programme of work.”