Local children must be protected from inappropriate sex education material produced by the Scottish Government, the Western Isles Council has confirmed.
At a special meeting, the Council renewed its commitment to use alternative resources for teaching Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) in primary schools rather than adopt the controversial material promoted by Holyrood.
The Council advises schools to use RSHP materials produced by the Scottish Catholic Education Services exclusively, but with appropriate amendments made to reflect the religious values of the school and local community.
In April, the Council provided schools with clear guidance on how to prepare to teach RSHP, including advice on planning, consultation and the importance of transparency.
Staff have been told to provide “parents with a copy of all sensitive materials” to be used, and ensure that all slides, video links and worksheets are “shared with parents BEFORE they are presented to pupils”.
Schools must also provide opportunity for parents to discuss any specific items in the proposed materials with staff and, when requested, to arrange for a child to be withdrawn.
Last year, when the Council first voted against the use of Government resources, Councillor Calum Maclean said “a significant number of parents, carers, faith groups and staff had voiced their concerns” about its appropriateness.
The Church of Scotland Presbytery of Lewis had also warned the council that the materials would “confuse and prematurely sexualise young minds”.
But following the Council’s decision, schools continued to be directed towards the inappropriate materials, sparking further complaints from parents.
Scottish Government guidance for RSHP states that many think of parents as “a child’s first teacher” and that consulting with them “should be standard practice”. It also encourages teachers to “be aware” of the “wide range of backgrounds” represented in schools “and respect this in their teaching”.
Councils are legally required to have regard to this guidance and to ensure that “the content of instruction” provided to children in their area “is appropriate, having regard to each child’s age, understanding and stage of development”.
The Scottish Government is expected to consult on revised guidance for RSHP in the near future.