Mums protest at Isle of Dogs school over sex lessons in class

Mums protest outside Arnham Primary against sex lessons in science class

Mums protest outside Arnham Primary against sex lessons in science class - Credit: Archant

Angry mums protested outside their children’s school while the youngsters were in a science lesson being taught about sex.

They have opted out of their youngsters being given sex education, but claim some East End primary schools are bypassing their parental right by including it in compulsory science lessons under the National Curriculum.

The mothers picketed Millwall’s Arnhem Wharf Primary on the Isle of Dogs while the science lesson was under way yesterday.

Saltana Alam, whose daughter is a pupil at the school, said: “I found they were teaching children far more than they need to, material that was too explicit, more than I would allow them to see at home—I don’t approve of it.”

It has become a sensitive issue in the Muslim community with families concerned that their cultural and religious values were being undermined by exposure to adult issues when their children are too young.

The banner protest was part of a national ‘Safe at School’ campaign which held public meetings in east London last year after claims that parents were being denied their legal right to “protect children from unacceptable sex education.”

Its national coordinator Antonia Tully said: “Parents are angry because the word ‘reproduction’ in the science curriculum is seen as a green light by teachers for explicit sex education.”

Most Read

The local authority remains firm that primary schools are required by law to teach every child scientific aspects of human reproduction.

But the Town Hall has issued a reassurance that it was being taught with sensitivity under strict guidelines.

“Schools are aware that this is a sensitive subject,” said a Tower Hamlets spokesman. “They consult parents with copies of the teaching material in advance.”

Ofsted recently warned that lack of age-appropriate sex education may leave children vulnerable to sexual exploitation, the authority points out.

Arnhem Wharf teaches it from Year 5, children aged at least nine, not before. Only three of the 120 pupils in Years 5 and 6 have been withdrawn by parents from non-statutory elements of sex education, it is understood.

The campaigners sent an open letter to Arnham’s head teacher Sara Haynes, Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman and education director Anne Canning, claiming the school is including explicit detail about sexual organs and intercourse in the science class.

Talking about such sensitive issues are for parents, the letter stresses—not the school.