By Hilary White

LONDON, October 29, 2008 ( ) – Following an announcement that the Labour government will be installing mandatory “sex and relationship” education for children as young as four and five in schools, the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CES) has said it will not only cooperate, but is encouraging parents not to take their children out of the classes.

Called “personal, social and health education” (PSHE), the government program is predicated on the idea that more and earlier “sex-education” in schools is the answer to Britain’s record-breaking rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion. This despite the statistics that show the rates have increased over the years in tandem with the push for sex-ed in schools.

CES said, “The statutory rights of parents to withdraw their children from sex education remain but it is our hope that parents will not find the need to exercise this right as children are likely to benefit from experiencing SRE amongst their friends and peers.”

CES, whose stated purpose is to “promote” and “safeguard” Catholic interests in education and contribute to “Christian perspectives” in the national debate on education issues, said that parents need not worry because “reassurance has been given” by the government that the curriculum “will not be so prescriptive in character as to involve conflict with Catholic teaching.”

John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, called the statement “painfully disingenuous” given “what is known to be going on in Catholic schools.”

Parents have not seen the information to be given to their children, but it has been revealed that the abortion organisation, the Family Planning Association (FPA), one of the groups involved in the government’s new plans, recently launched a sex-education booklet which asked children aged six and seven to identify correctly the vagina and testicles on a picture of a naked girl and boy. Another sex education resource produced by Channel 4 Learning asked five-year-olds to point out the clitoris.

“The first task of everyone entrusted with the Gospel of life” Smeaton said, “is, surely, to oppose government plans to promote and to entrench the abortion culture amongst young people of all faiths and none?”

Mike Judge, Head of Communications at the Christian Institute, called the government’s plans a threat to the rights of the family. “It will undermine parents as they face the difficult job of bringing up their children. The best people to teach children about sex and relationships are their parents.”

At the same time, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) stands accused of deception for the manner in which they reported the results of a survey the government agency released that claimed that pupils themselves are asking for more sex-education in schools. The Christian Institute, a non-denominational Christian lobby organisation said Ofsted failed to report that 55 per cent of those asked said they didn’t need more information.

Ofsted claimed that a third of 150,000 pupils aged ten to fifteen responded no to the question on whether the “advice they receive on matters like sex and relationships is sufficient.” Ofsted claimed, “Better information and advice about sex and relationships was wanted by more than a third of children and young people.”

The Christian Institute said that the agency failed to mention in its media release that more than half did not ask for expansion of sex-education. Mike Judge said, “Ofsted’s own figures say that a majority of children don’t want more sex education. It looks as though the schools inspectorate is trying to spin these figures in order to back up the Government’s misguided plans for sex education.”

Read related coverage:

UK Contraception and Abortion Promoters calling for Sex Ed for Four Year-Olds

UK Announces Mandatory Sex Education for Kindergarteners