The Transferor Representatives’ Council, which represents the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church in education issues in Northern Ireland, has expressed deep concern at Secretary of State’s announcement on Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and highlighted several flaws in a process of making policy for local schools from Westminster.
Dr Andrew Brown, Chair of the Transferor Representatives’ Council, said: “Laws and policies for Northern Ireland should be made in Northern Ireland by ministers who have been locally elected by its citizens – an electorate which includes parents, teachers, carers and guardians. The announcement’s timing, right in the middle of the exam season for schools and before the summer holiday, is questionable and greatly reduces the time available for any meaningful consultation with teachers and boards of governors.
“The value judgments made in the 2018 CEDAW Report that RSE is ‘underdeveloped or non-existent’ were unfair and unfounded, and run against the evidence reported by the Education and Training Inspectorate. All schools are required to develop their own RSE policy, based on the ethos of the school, with each policy subject to consultation with parents and pupils.
“We are supportive of high-quality RSE at age-appropriate levels in line with the Department of Education’s current guidance and would welcome an updated curriculum, to cover issues such as consent and attitudes to women. We remain supportive of this approach which respects the needs of our young people and the communities in which we live.”