The Accord Coalition for inclusive education, of which Ekklesia is a founding member, has responded to the Government’s consultation on its proposed new National Curriculum for England, and urged that guidance offered about Religious Education (RE), school assemblies and the provision of sex education in science is enhanced. The draft National Curriculum is set to be taught from September 2014. Among the suggestions made by Accord were that:
- maintained schools must consider, in particular, how the RE and assemblies they provide meet their legal requirement to provide a curriculum that provides pupils ‘for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life’
- maintained schools are reminded of their legal duty to promote community cohesion and to consider how their teaching may advance this
- the value of providing assemblies that forge shared values is stressed
- the sex education provided as part of science at the primary stage should ensure that both boys and girls know about puberty before they experience the onset of physical changes and know how a baby is born, as the Government’s own SRE guidance recommends
- sexual health and contraception is included in Key Stage Three
- schools are encouraged to raise awareness of gender variance
Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said, "We wanted age appropriate Sex and Relationships and Religious Education to be included in the National Curriculum, and are disappointed that the Government chose not to review the standing of these subjects, along with school assemblies, as part of its Curriculum review.
"However, as there may still be room for debate about the wording of the Curriculum, we have made a range of suggestions about how it could make a stronger emphasis on schools promoting shared values and the growth of mutual understanding, as well enhancing the provision for sex education. The draft Curriculum is currently worded in a way that would allow schools to deny pupils vital knowledge about how their bodies work and risks they may face, as well as for schools to not consider their contribution to social cohesion."
Last week the Accord Coalition joined over one hundred groups and individual experts in a joint letter, which argued that the current draft National Curriculum would have a "negative effect on sex education" and called on the Government to include the "essentials of sex education in science."