Learn the lesson of sex education

18th January 2008 at 00:00
For very different reasons from those Ed Balls intended, I commend his words to MPs, urging that it is "important schools give a consistent message to pupils in sex education classes" (TES, January 11). Yet I remain bemused at his assumption that it is Catholic schools that need to "teach sex education in the same way as every other school".

I urge Mr Balls to do some serious research and vigorously interrogate the statistics relating to teenage pregnancies and abortion. I am confident that he will discover that the number of girls involved who attend Catholic schools is much lower than those who attend secular schools - which leads me to the obvious conclusion that perhaps the Government should model sex education on that delivered in Catholic schools, not vice versa.

I am responsible for the sex education programme in the Catholic comprehensive where I teach, and I have actively denied health professionals any opportunity to sabotage our programme with what I consider to be their totally inferior alternative. My secular colleagues have been very keen to use our programme as they can see its merits compared with the blinkered, half-baked view promoted by the Government and local health authorities - that all you need to do is give out condoms, use bananas to explain how to put them on, offer the morning-after pill when this fails, advocate peer-led sex education and watch teen pregnancy figures steadily rise. The only message young people hear is "Here's the information you need as you are sexually active", and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The only "pink" Mr Balls should refer to is that of his blushes at criticising Catholic schools for setting the example that others should follow.

Bernadette Dellar, Assistant principal, St Benedict's College, Colchester, Essex.

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