Streaming in sex classes under attack: Ministers split on guidelines for teachers

CHILDREN SHOULD be divided into groups for sex-education lessons according to their knowledge about sex, new government guidelines will say.

John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, has changed sex-education guidelines, to be published shortly, after a nurse in a Leeds primary school discussed oral sex and 'Mars bar parties' with 10 and 11-year-olds. The nurse said she was responding to children's questions, but a few parents protested.

Teachers yesterday condemned the change as 'barmy'. They said it would simply lead to the 'innocent' children asking the 'knowledgeable' ones what they had been taught after class.

The Department for Education said the guidelines would be general. It had no details on how teachers were to assess which children knew what. Schools would presumably have to separate naive sheep from sophisticated goats.

A spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers said: 'This has to be one of the daftest ideas the Government has yet come up with. It is simply encouraging some kids to find out what the others already know.

'You can't segregate children in the playground. Only someone who knows nothing at all about education could have made this suggestion,' she said.

There has been controversy over the draft sex education guidelines since they were issued last December. Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, and Mr Patten are split over the role of teachers in giving contraceptive advice to pupils under the age of 16. Mr Patten and Baroness Blatch, his Minister of State, see the guidelines as part of the Government's campaign to promote family values.

They believe that under the law teachers who are approached by pupils under 16 about contraception must refer them to a GP.

Mrs Bottomley also supports the campaign, but fears that such advice may undermine her department's drive to cut the number of teenage pregnancies.

According to the Department for Education, Mr Patten has won the battle. A spokesman for the department said: 'Our understanding is that teachers who give advice on contraception for under-16s are breaking the law. The law is the law. For us to change the guidelines, the law would have to change.'

Ann Taylor, Labour's education spokeswoman, yesterday accused Mr Patten of creating 'turmoil' in schools because he wanted to dictate everything that happened in the classroom. She spoke as the Liberal Democrats produced a document accusing the Government of creating 'obfuscation and confusion' by stealing local-authority powers.

A planned pilot training scheme for specialist teacher assistants - the so-called 'Mums' Army' - is to be blocked by the National Union of Teachers. The union's general secretary, Doug McAvoy, accused Mr Patten of subterfuge, saying that the intention was to bring in teaching staff without adequate qualifications.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor