In the wake of the dossier compiled by Miriam Cates MP on unsuitable Relationships and Sex Education delivered by unaccountable external providers, there is now a long-overdue focus on the quality of RSE provision in schools.
In its recent report on relationships and sex education providers, The Times quoted our spokeswoman Tanya Carter, who noted that in the absence of proper regulation from the Department for Education, it was up to the schools to vet providers. “More and more of these providers seem to have online profiles that you wouldn’t want your children accessing,” Carter said. “Obviously we don’t hear about schools that are getting it right — and I’m sure there are lots of them — but we are increasingly hearing about those that aren’t. It’s incredibly alarming.””
We welcome the statement by the prime minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday 8th March that he has asked the Department for Education to bring forward a review into the RSE that is being taught in schools. We also welcome the belated acknowledgement by Gillian Keegan MP, and the head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman, among others, that there is a problem here.
However there still seems to be an unwillingness on the part of too many teachers and teaching unions to acknowledge that allowing a range of so-called experts with ideological agendas into schools to teach children about sex has had disturbing consequences. The National Association of Headteachers has claimed that they have seen “no evidence” that this is a widespread problem. Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that schools were being “subjected to unhelpful potshots from various individuals and groups.”
So is there a concerning level of unsuitable material in use in schools? The short answer is Yes, there is.
According to research, three quarters of British children had been exposed to some kind of critical social theory (including gender identity) and 68% of those questioned had been taught those views as fact. We have a very considerable amount of evidence to back this up.
Contact from parents about RSE
A lot of our information comes from parents and teachers emailing us directly. Some have written personal testimony for the Our Stories section on our website, such as this one: “I am utterly horrified at what was taught at a PSHE lesson at my school recently. It was to a group of children, most are 11-12 years old. It is so, so much worse than I thought.”
As mentioned in the Times article above, we were recently contacted by a parent who was very upset that her daughter had been told to create a model of a Play-doh penis in a mixed-sex classroom. This was conducted by the School of Sexuality Education (SoSE), who say that they work with schools and universities across the UK. We have already written about our view of this exercise.
The below resource was shared by a parent after it was used in a sixth form in Cambridgeshire. Children who pointed out that ‘non-binary’ was not a protected characteristic and that Miss Green and Adam’s classmates also had rights were told that their concerns were not valid.
Last year we were contacted by a distressed mother whose 11-year-old was shown this Stonewall video at school. It features the homophobic, misogynistic and sexist concept of a ‘trans lesbian’ (1:35 onwards), teaching children that lesbians must accept males as partners and have no right to sexual boundaries. Lesbian teens deserve better. Thankfully with our help the mother was able to get this withdrawn from the school’s resources, but it has already been shown to 11-year-old children.
This video that claims sex is fluid and that circumcision can change your sex was shown to year 7s. When a parent challenged they were told it was from ‘a well known PSHE resource body’.
One mother has shared a detailed account on Twitter of what happened when she challenged her daughter’s school over RSE resources. We don’t share this to put others off challenging: quite the opposite, we share it so you know you’re not alone and support is out there. It is however extremely concerning that it is currently being left to parents to raise formal complaints over these issues. When pupils are being encouraged to transition by staff and enabled to do so in secret by schools, tighter regulation is clearly needed.
Year 7 is a very difficult time for a lot of children. They go to secondary school and find that it is no longer acceptable to play games and run around as they did in year 6. Girls in particular enter a world where their acceptance into the social hierarchy is rigidly policed by their peers. We do not think that presenting the above resource to an 11 or 12 year old child as a possible reason for feeling feeling uncomfortable with restrictive secondary school gender roles is in any way appropriate.
Another parent sent us a resource, linked to by the DfE, that defames J.K. Rowling, comparing her to anti-semites and celebrators of sexual violence. The parent who sent this was both concerned and angry that it had been used in her child’s school. This is a breach of 1996 Education Act.
We have been informed that Harris Academy Orpington has just proudly announced to parents that it has gained its ‘Gold Equalities Award’, awarded by Equaliteach. This seems to have involved rewriting the Equality Act so that the school can discriminate on the basis of sex.
A reminder that Liz Truss had to instruct Equaliteach to remove the Government Equalities Office logo from their misleading RSE resources when she was Women and Equalities Minister. We have reviewed some of their resources and have found they promote gender ideology and misrepresent the law. We suggest that the Harris Federation seek independent legal advice to find out how much risk they’ve just exposed themselves to.
We have been sent a link to the school newsletter showing that King Edward VI Five Ways School in Birmingham are using the tried and tested (and illegal) method of the older students indoctrinating the younger ones on the subject of male-born athletes competing in women’s sport. It is concerning that so many schools appear unaware of, or unwilling to apply, the 1996 Education Act.
Ernulf Academy in Cambridgeshire has recently received a poor Ofsted rating with the observation that “some pupils receive homophobic comments“. However, the reports we have from parents are that the school has employed activist staff and that the ‘homophobia’ is in fact parents and pupils reacting to their attempts at indoctrination via the Kite Trust’s rainbow flag award.
Many of our template letters were developed in response to specific incidents reported to us by parents, such as the Genderbread Person being used in their children’s schools.
Parents are often refused access to school materials. If you want to check what’s happening in your child’s school and the school are unwilling to share this with you, you can send an FOI to request information relating to their RSE and PSHE resources.
RSE in the press
Sometimes parents have gone to the media with their concerns and we have read about it in the national press. Although we would always advocate using the schools complaints policy and have written a guide on how to do this, when there is press coverage this does demonstrate to parents to see why it is worth checking what their child is learning in RSE lessons.
The head at Sentamu Academy in Hull had to apologise after teacher-produced RSE resources included homework asking 13 year olds to define different types of pornography. The head said he was sorry if this led them to undertake inappropriate web searches, but maintained that the work was in line with government guidance
At Shevington High School in Wigan, a father was shocked to find that his daughter had been sent her home with a sex education leaflet advocating toe sucking, ear-nibbling, buying underwear and, in an unusual twist for 14-year-olds, proposing marriage as a way to show love for someone.
At Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh, The Telegraph recently reported that “A presentation prepared for classes in the first year of high school is now being “reviewed”. It follows a backlash from parents who fear the lessons have been taking place without their knowledge for several years.” The presentation told children that anyone who is not (yet) sure of their sexual orientation is “queer” and that there are three sexes.
Leading RSE providers
Let’s now look at the well-known providers of RSE. The ones that parents might think they should be able to trust.
We have reviewed several leading providers of RSE and PSHE, including All About Me, Bish, Diversity Role Models, Do… RSE, Educate and Celebrate, Equaliteach, Jigsaw, The Proud Trust, Respect Yourself, Sexplain and Stonewall. We decided to do this after many parents contacted us with concerns over the materials that they were using in and / or providing for use in schools, and we found content that was unscientific, ideological and anti-safeguarding.
We have long been raising concerns about Educate and Celebrate, which provides staff training, pupil workshops and policy guidance. There is testimony from teachers on their website that demonstrates the influence of this organisation in schools. Educate and Celebrate were recently found to be telling schools where they have delivered training that their RSE provision is an ‘Ofsted and Department for Education recognised Best Practice Award Programme’. It isn’t. Womens Rights Network said that the charity “promotes highly contentious theories about gender identity to children of primary school age and above, teaching them that human beings can change sex and that sexual orientation is just a matter of choice.” Perhaps the attitude towards transparency of their founder Elly Barnes, who advised Irish teachers to tell parents as little as possible about the delivery or content of RSE provision, has a bearing on this.
We reviewed resources for LGBT History Month that had been produced by The Proud Trust and Stonewall after seeing numerous posts about them from teachers on Twitter. From these posts and other tweets using the hashtag #SchoolDiversityWeek, it was evident that these homophobic and sexist resources have been and continue to be used in schools.
We have reviewed PSHE materials from Barnardo’s and PSHE and RSE materials from the NSPCC and Childline after seeing tweets from schools about their use of these resources and being contacted by parents who were worried about them. We found these promoted unquestioning affirmation of trans identity, unsafe practices such as breast-binding and misrepresented the law.
Interestingly, one of the few people to reply to our request on Twitter for examples of good, age-appropriate RSE resources for use in schools said they would recommend NSPCC resources in their entirety. This reinforces our concern that they are being used in schools without critical assessment. Although the current NSPCC lesson plan on pornography is an improvement on their appalling ‘WTF is porn’ YouTube video, it still does not address the exploitative nature of the porn industry or the physical harm that the sexual practices it promotes can cause. Our original campaign when we formed in 2019 was about NSPCC safeguarding failings. They must take some responsibility for the many inappropriate materials that have entered schools.
In response to the school closures, in April 2020 Stonewall brought out three levels of Home Learning Packs aimed at ‘Primary’, ‘Secondary’ and ‘SEND’, for use ‘by parents or carers looking to support their child’s learning or by education staff looking to send work home for their students’. We produced a guide to help parents make an informed decision about the content of the Primary and SEND Stonewall home learning packs, which again, contained unscientific and dogmatic assertions about gender identity.
It should be noted that the indoctrination of children by well-known and previously respected providers is not only taking place within schools. The BBC must also accept responsibility for the widespread undermining of child safeguarding. BBC Bitesize is a resource specifically designed for children’s education and many schools direct children to it. We do not believe the BBC Bitesize should be celebrating International Pronouns Day; this is the promotion of political ideology to children.
The original version of the BBC Bitesize article – on the website and promoted via Twitter – showed a cartoon image of three children sharing a changing room, with each child labelled either she/her, he/him or they/them.
We wrote in 2019 about the (now withdrawn) BBC Teach video that told children that there are ‘100 genders’. This was widely reported in the press at the time. The young children in this video were shown being misinformed.
CBBC have also been actively promoting gender ideology to children, with shows such as ‘When Mum becomes Dad‘ and ‘First Day‘ that emotionally manipulate children into supporting an agenda pushed by trans lobby groups.
So many parents contacted us with their concerns about Mermaids and about schools directing children to them, being trained by them and even fundraising for them that we produced a template letter.
Mermaids is now under investigation by the Charity Commission over concerns about its governance and management. One of the triggers for this was the discovery that they had appointed a trustee, Dr Jacob Breslow, who had carried out (and spoken publicly about) research that appeared to criticise society’s understanding of paedophiles. His focus on examining paedophilia through a ‘queer lens’ echoes the approach taken by those responsible for the Welsh RSE code.
The Times recently conducted an investigation into another ‘trusted provider’, TES, and found materials that sexualise children and anti-choice propaganda. There appears to be no quality control in place when adding RSE resources to the TES website. Teenagers should be taught the facts and the law around abortion in RSE lessons in a neutral way. The differing views on abortion is a debate for Ethics or RE class. Nobody should teach opinion as fact.
The promotion in schools of books that contravene safeguarding frameworks and promote unscientific ideologies has long been a problem. This year a book called ‘Being an Ally’ is being promoted to girls as young as 11 by their schools as part of World Book Day. This seeks to normalise medical procedures with irreversible effects such as breast amputation and testosterone injection.
We’ve been told recently that this blatant flat earthism from Pop ‘n’ Olly is still being taught in schools, to very young children. This does not challenges gender stereotypes, and is not done for the benefit of children. We recently received a marketing email from Pop ‘n’ Olly letting us know that 9055 books have been donated to primary schools. This has probably contributed to the increase in complaints we’ve seen.
We have concerns over other books which are being actively promoted to children via libraries, including school libraries. The School of Sexuality Education are actively campaigning to get their book, ‘Sex Ed’ into 1,000 schools and have a fundraiser on their website to support this. We have recently written about our view of this ideologically-driven book, which promotes risky sexual behaviour to children while failing to identify which sex is which.
Earlier this month our spokeswoman was quoted in an article in the Daily Mail which described school library books available to pre-pubertal children that cover injecting hormones, meeting strangers for sex, and six-year-olds performing fellatio. Tanya Carter talked about how parents objecting to this are accused of censorship; of wanting to ban books. But there is a world of difference between censorship and safeguarding.
Smaller RSE providers
As well as the large and better-known providers, there has been a proliferation of smaller organisations entering the market. These often seem to be started by people who feel that their own RSE in school was not very good and want that to change for today’s teenagers. Whether this means they are the right people to do it is another question.
Split Banana embrace queer theory and teach children that there is no such thing as virginity and that heteronormativity must be challenged. By Matilda’s own admission she is alienating boys, who dominate her classes, make jokes and mutter things under their breath.
Bold Voices are another small RSE provider pursuing an ideological agenda. You might think Women’s History Month was an opportunity to discuss how far we’ve come and the plight of women in countries such as Iran.
However Bold Voices chose to platform 3 men among their 21 suggested Inspirational Women.
Dr Lynne Harne of the Lesbian Rights Alliance wrote this critique of a resource called ‘Let’s Talk About Porn’ written by the South-West Grid for Learning, a charity “dedicated to empowering the safe and secure use of technology”. The resource, which came to her attention because it was being used in a school, assured children that porn is relatively harmless, that looking at it is ‘natural’ and that it is merely ‘entertainment’.
It is disingenuous to suggest, as some have, that we should only be interested in what RSE providers are doing while they are actually in schools. Many of the complaints are about what children are exposed to if they google who has been in their school.
Meg Veit was going into schools in Cambridgeshire on behalf of Dhiverse, a sexual health charity based in Cambridge. She can easily be found on Twitter, posting in support of the idea that prostitution (described euphemistically as ‘sex work’) is just the same as any other job, or even something that women might want to do for free:
Shonagh Dillon wrote in The Critic magazine last year about the RSE delivered in her children’s school by an external provider, and about what children would find if they looked up this and other providers online. The organisation in her children’s school was Enrich RSE, which at the time was promoting ‘World Hand Job Day’. She found equally unsuitable content promoted by other RSE providers. She concluded that “one thing is certain: I will never agree that butt plugs and BDSM are a necessary topic for my child’s learning journey to healthy relationships.”
We agree, and have seen may other examples of this: to be clear, it’s not acceptable to direct children to websites that promote self harm and fisting, even if you don’t ‘teach’ fisting in school.
We have also seen a drag queen, Aida H Dee, invited into a school in Wales to discuss “different Pride flags, Martha P Johnson, Section 28, the word queer and it’s origins, the battle with homophobic slurs at schools… and suicide stats.” We have written about Aida H Dee’s online presence and why he should not be being invited into schools to speak to children. We do not think a man whose digital footprint includes the phrase ‘love has no age’ and other sexualised content is a suitable person to be in schools. We are also not aware that he has any qualifications to discuss suicide, which is something that should be handled by a trained professional.
Despite claiming that he would not use identifying information, Aida H Dee posted a picture on his Twitter feed showing a number of the children’s faces at this school.
Sadly we do not expect that the Welsh Department for Education and Skills or Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales will do anything to address this safeguarding failure as the school involved has been praised by Estyn for its ‘best practice’. Culture starts at the top. Currently the curriculum for Wales appears to be driven by individuals who have their own agenda, rather than by safeguarding and child development needs.
Local and regional government failings
There are huge problems in Wales with the devolved RSE curriculum, which is openly and unashamedly linked to queer theory, an ideology that seeks to break down boundaries and treats children as sexual beings. This very informative article by Transgender Trend explains the influence that queer theory is having on RSE and more widely on our ability to safeguard our children. We can see the influence of this extending to all sorts of organisations that are not even RSE providers, but who nonetheless produce materials for use as part of RSE. For example, for International Women’s Day 2021, the charity WEN Wales produced a toolkit which they recommended to teachers for use in schools. The recommended reading list for secondary children included a link to gal-dem.com, a website clearly aimed at adults: one of recently published videos on the website at that time was a short about a cam-girl that opened with the actress saying ‘Who you want to fuck me with tonight, Daddy?’
Unsurprisingly, the Toolkit also promoted gender identity ideology as if it were fact and linked to a list of notable Welsh women that contained a male.
Local councils have also been involved in promoting unsuitable materials. in 2019 Warwickshire County Council were in the news after parents complained about their RSE resources for primary and secondary schools. Their online resource for secondary schools, ‘Respect Yourself‘, described a number of extreme and harmful sexual practices and normalised pornography. Their ‘All About Me‘ programme introduced the discussion of masturbation to primary schools.
Teaching Unions and RSE
We have seen the problematic ‘love has no age’ slogan being promoted by Diversity Role Models who are partnered with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).
However it is not just the NAHT: all the teaching unions are demonstrating a frightening disregard for child welfare. Just a few examples are the promotion by the NEU of Educate and Celebrate, the anti-safeguarding and factually incorrect ‘Trans Equality’ document produced by the NASUWT, the insistence by the ASCL that scrutiny of what is occurring in schools is a bad thing, and the proselytising of the Educational Institute of Scotland. These teaching unions are currently failing school children.
We would urge anyone who still doesn’t think that this could happen in our schools to read the Sheldon Report, an investigation into child sexual abuse between 1970 and 2005 commissioned by the Football Association. The BBC reported that Julian Knight MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said: “The failure of the FA to keep children safe is truly shocking. There can be no excuses for the critical delays to act or provide guidance to those working on child protection. We could be looking at the biggest safeguarding scandal in football’s history.”
We have to ask ourselves how long it will take before similar comments are being made about the safeguarding scandal in our schools.
We wrote to Gavin Williamson back in 2020 and we have written to every education secretary since about schools resources. We are far from the only group (or individual) who has spent years collating evidence and raising the alarm about what is going on in schools, and we have far more evidence than we have presented here.
We are now calling for a Public Inquiry into the decision-making process at the Department for Education in order to understand how this situation has been allowed to happen.