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Catching the bus on sex education

THE reaction to reading the consultative documents on sex education issued this week (page three) reinforces the first reaction to the "Section 28" furore: what on earth was all the fuss about? How did ministers got into the mess they did and why should anyone think Scottish schools were likely to be turned into propaganda units for gay sex.

But perhaps we should be grateful to Brian Souter and his chums aboard the Section 28 bus for giving us a clearer position than ever before on sex education in schools. The documents, and the circular incorporating the legally backed guidance which has also been issued for comment, are a model of sober judgment and evident common sense. Could anyone disagree with the exhortation, which might be termed one of extreme balance, tha sex education lessons within broad health and PSE programmes should encourage pupils "to appreciate the value of stable family life" while at the same time showing "respect to those who come from backgrounds that do not reflect this value"?

These are no more than restatements of curricular policy with which every teacher ought to be fully familiar. The most valuable additions are the sections dealing with the legal position and the emphasis placed on the importance of building links with parents so confidence and trust can be ensured. As the circular reminds us timeously, there is no statutory requirement forcing pupils to take part .

The challenge now is to make sex education relevant and interesting for pupils. As ever, it is down to the teachers.

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