The week

20th February 2009 at 00:00

So, who's to blame for 13-year-old Alfie Patten becoming a dad? Is it his 15-year-old girlfriend? Or maybe their parents who allowed them to sleep together?

Nope, of course, it's teachers who spend their lessons handing out copies of the Kama Sutra and encouraging pupils to hold orgies. At least, that's what Daily Mail readers will now believe.

Melanie Phillips wrote that sex education was part of an amoral attempt to restructure family life around a "sexual free-for-all", and that teaching manuals for the subject "set out the full range of sexual positions, partnering and perversions". (The "full range"? Is there time for that in PSHE?)

Whether or not Alfie turns out to be the father, he was having sex at 12. And he appears to have missed much of his brief secondary education by playing truant.

The same newspapers that were outraged by Alfie, and accused teachers of never discussing relationships, were, of course, the ones that have been opposing plans to teach something called sex and relationships education in primary school. When it might have been useful for Alfie.

"I face sack because my little girl talked about God in school" read a Daily Express headline. Except Jennie Cain, a receptionist, was merely taken aside for a chat after her daughter frightened another child at Landscore Primary School in Devon by telling her she would "go to hell". What sparked an investigation by governors was an email Mrs Cain then sent around criticising the school and members of its staff. Parents and teachers have since rallied in support of its headteacher.

The Guardian investigated the techniques, revealed by The TES, that Monkseaton School in Tyneside has used to teach a GCSE module in 60 minutes. Reporter Patrick Barkham wondered whether it was "media exaggeration", then tried the class, sat a paper, and got an A*. "Whatever the truth of it, something special is happening at Monkseaton," he concluded.

The Taxpayers' Alliance was furious that a headteacher was hired last month, on an annual salary of Pounds 60,000, to run a school near Bedford that "doesn't exist". Or, to be exact, won't open until September. Perhaps it thinks it's better value if Lakeview Lower School opens its doors to pupils without any preparation. And that, for the first week or so, the head interviews prospective staff members and plans the curriculum while single-handedly educating all the children in the dining hall.

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