Cardinal Keith Joseph O'Brien may have been wasting his time when he bemoaned the prospect of inappropriate sex education being promulgated in schools. His view was based on the supposition that sex education in schools is effective. The latest research on the subject (page three) suggests it is anything but. The more disquieting finding is that this is for the most fundamental of reasons - the relationship between teacher and pupil. Curricular excellence does not seem to be part of the solution.
It is as well that ministers now want to focus on improving sex education in schools. How can it be effective if pupils do not feel comfortable talking to teachers about their real preoccupations - as opposed to the niceties of the curriculum?
There is an issue of concern here that goes beyond sex education. As the research report says, schools deliver education as an aged-based, mass system. Yet the sexual development of young people is no respecter of age - which might indeed be said of educational development in general. This research therefore is of relevance to all teachers and all parts of the curriculum.