Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

Probe into school’s ‘anti-gay’ policy

Published

on

 

  • Apologetic headteacher blames ‘old policy’ on school website
  • Scandal follows PM’s 2009 “We got it wrong” apology

 

A HAVERFORDWEST school is being investigated by the Welsh Government after its website was found to carry an unlawful policy on teaching pupils about homosexuality.

Tasker Milward school in Haverfordwest, which has over 1000 students, was one of a number of schools in the UK identified as having a published policy which breached the 2010 Equality Act.

The policy statement echoed the notorious Section 28 brought in by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1988, which outlawed the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. In 2003, Section 28 was repealed and the 2010 Equality Act made discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation an offence.

Tasker Milward’s policy stated it: “[did] not prevent teachers from addressing issues of homosexuality in the classroom in a neutral and unbiased manner; however, the local authority shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material which actively promotes homosexuality.”

The policy’s presence on the school’s website was described by campaigners as “simply unacceptable” and the Welsh Government confirmed it was “concerned” and investigating as “a matter of urgency”.

Stonewall advertising boardThe school has stated that the policy dated from 2008, was an old one that had not been in operation and that an oversight led to the policy not being deleted from the school’s website.

The school has not explained how a policy directly referring to legislation repealed in 2003 was placed on its website five years later. All bar one other policy accessible on the school website carry a date of 16 January 2013.

The school has apologised for any offence caused.

An investigation by the British Humanist Association led to the revelation that 45 schools either published policies that replicated Section 28 or had policy documents that were “overly vague” on the issue. The British Humanist Association (BHA), campaigns against faith education.

BHA spokeswoman Pavan Dhaliwal said schools in question must urgently review their policies to ensure all pupils were treated with equal respect and understanding.

She said: “It is simply unacceptable that over a decade after the repeal of the pernicious Section 28 that these schools continue to enforce similar policies, while others have statements which are overly vague on this matter.”

The BHA first started investigating after a policy at Colston Girls’ School in Bristol was brought to their attention.

In total, the BHA found 20 policies where it believes there is something clearly offensive, a further 22 that still seem to imply that Section 28 might some way be in force and three that are otherwise vague.

There are no national curriculum guidelines on sex education and details of lessons are left to individual schools to draw up. However schools are required to comply with the Equality Act, forbidding any discrimination.  There are fears that faith schools launched under the Coalition Government’s controversial ‘Academy’ system are seeking to circumvent the law and breach the Act.

After Tasker Milward School’s policy was made public, the Welsh Government said on Twitter: “We are investigating this as a matter of urgency.”

Introduced in 1988, Section 28 of the Local Government Act banned the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities and said that schools “could not promote of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Section 28 was repealed in England and Wales in 2003 and in Scotland in 2000.

Officials at the UK Department for Education (DfE) launched a separate investigation from the Welsh Government yesterday.

On Tuesday, the Chairman of the Commons Education Committee urged for ministers to update SRE guidelines. Conservative MP Graham Stuart said: “It looks like an echo from the past. It looks as if schools have just copied that wording from years ago, before Section 28 was revoked, rather than with any deliberate intent.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “All children and young people in Wales should receive inclusive Sex and Relationships Education.

“It is extremely important that young people are taught in a way that does not subject them to discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 is very clear on this.

“Our guidance to schools provides definitive advice about the teaching of all aspects of relationships and specific sexual health and well-being issues such as sexual orientation.

“Teachers should deal with sexual orientation honestly, sensitively and in a non-judgemental way. The needs of every learner must be met and schools should encourage open discussion, promote inclusion and challenge inequalities.

“We will be reminding all schools of our guidance and their responsibilities.”

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesman said: “The Sex Education policy on the Tasker Milward school website was an old policy not in operation and which had not been deleted.

“The school does have a current Strategic Equality Plan, further details of which can be obtained directly from the school.

“The headteacher, Maggie Haynes, apologises for any distress that the failure to remove the old policy from the website may have caused.”

Tasker Milward is the same school where WikiLeaks whistle blower Bradley Manning attended while living in Wales with his mother. As a 13-year-old pupil at the school, he is said to have questioned his sexuality before later coming out as openly gay.

Wes Steeting, head of education at Stonewall, said: “We need to see very clear guidance about the importance of tackling homophobic bullying and the promotion of a curriculum that is inclusive.”

Former pupil Hywel ap Dafydd, 34, said: “It’s thoroughly disheartening that some two decades after I first came out my old secondary school still advertises Section 28 on its website almost a decade after it was repealed.

“In the 7 years I attended Tasker Milward I was constantly victimised about my sexuality, often in front of teachers who ignored it, receiving little support with the exception of my friends and a few notable teachers. My distress was clearly visible and even though I was once discovered crying with a knife at my wrist, no real effort was made to address my problems.

“I would like to believe that in the 20 years since,, the school might have understood the concept of Pastoral Care but in light of this latest oversight I wonder just how much has changed and how many other pupils have suffered the same neglect that I did?”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News

Broad Haven: Car overturns in wet weather on B4341

Published

on

A CAR overturned in the wet weather on the B4341 Haverfordwest to Broad Haven road on Friday evening (Jul 3).

First on the scene, local Stephen Hughes told The Herald: “I was driving along and noticed a car had overturned on the Broad Haven Road past the left turning for Tiers Cross. I stopped and checked to see if everyone as okay.

“No one was injured, and I stayed until the police arrived.”

Police directed traffic and assisted with the recovery of the vehicle.

Continue Reading

News

County Hall in NHS blue lights tribute

Published

on

COUNTY HALL in Haverfordwest was lit in blue last night (Friday, 3rd July) and will be again tonight and tomorrow night as a tribute to NHS workers and social care staff throughout the country.

The illumination also marks the 72nd anniversary of the NHS on Sunday.

Said Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman, Dr Simon Hancock: “We owe these workers a great debt which will never be fully repaid and this gesture by the Council is richly deserved.”

Continue Reading

News

Cllr Beynon suspended as school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur

Published

on

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL said that they are unable to comment on the suspension of a Pembroke Dock councillor as a school governor.

Cllr Beynon confirmed that he has been suspended as a school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur.

“I’m looking forward until when the ombudsman throws out the complaints,” Cllr Beynon said.

Paul Dowson, a fellow Pembroke Dock councillor, recently resigned from the board of school governors of Ysgol Harri Tudur.

Cllr Dowson said after he resigned: “I feel a recent smear campaign reflects badly on the school even though its untrue.”

Continue Reading
News1 day ago

County Hall in NHS blue lights tribute

COUNTY HALL in Haverfordwest was lit in blue last night (Friday, 3rd July) and will be again tonight and tomorrow...

News2 days ago

Cllr Beynon suspended as school governor at Pembroke’s Ysgol Harri Tudur

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL said that they are unable to comment on the suspension of a Pembroke Dock councillor as a...

News2 days ago

Pembrokeshire man admits catalogue of sexual offences against children

A HAVERFORDWEST man has pleaded guilty to a huge catalogue of sexual offences against children, including possession of more than...

News2 days ago

Jail for sleight of hand fraudster

A MAN has been jailed for four fraud offences after purposely confusing post office and bank staff with sleight of...

News3 days ago

Wales’ hospitality sector will prepare to re-open outdoors from 13 July

The Minister signalled the first phase of a planned reopening for bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor spaces following a...

News3 days ago

South West Wales Virtual Open Day 8 July

Welsh local authorities, schools, colleges and work-based learning providers will be hosting a series of Virtual Open Days for Year...

News3 days ago

SOME pubs can reopen on July 13

PUBS, cafes and restaurants in Wales can re-open on July 13. Or, at least, some can. In a move heavily...

News4 days ago

Union wants council investigation into Councillor Paul Dowson’s conduct

PEMBROKESHIRE County Councillor Paul Dowson’s public statements criticising the Black Lives Matter movement should be formally investigated by the council,...

News4 days ago

Advice for businesses re-opening

AS LOCKDOWN restrictions are expected to ease, businesses and building owners are reminded to check the maintenance of their premises...

News4 days ago

Jail for Monkton couple caught with £3,100 worth of heroin

A PEMBROKE couple have been handed prison sentences after travelling to Swansea together to collect drugs. Anthony Reginald Brian Davies...

Popular This Week