Secondary teachers question rationale for changes to relationship education guidelines

Secondary teachers are mystified by the reasons given by the Prime Minister for the need to remove and replace the relationship and sexuality education guidelines, says Chris Abercrombie, PPTA Te Wehengarua acting president.

“When asked by the media early last week about this policy, I said secondary teachers were not sure what the problem was that needed fixing. However, the Prime Minister’s comments, reported on Friday, give us cause for serious concern. None of the reasons he has given for the need for change are valid.”

Radio NZ reported on Friday that Mr Luxon said the government wanted a well-defined (health) curriculum, agreed to by experts that makes sure that the content is age-appropriate, requires parents to be consulted and that gives parents the right to withdraw their children from this education.

“All of these conditions currently apply to the relationship and sexuality education guidelines,” says Chris Abercrombie.

“The guidelines are evidence-based, coming with a separate pedagogical guide for teachers. The lead writer is an academic who is an expert in this field of knowledge, the guidelines are age appropriate – there are separate guidelines tailored for younger and older students - schools are required by the Education and Training Act to consult with their communities on the delivery of the health curriculum and parents can withdraw their children from all or part of it. 

“Not one of the reasons given by the Prime Minister appears to be valid. This is extremely disturbing given this change, initiated by NZ First,  was agreed to as part of the National Party’s coalition agreement with NZ First. We would have hoped the Prime Minister would have made sure there was a very sound rationale for this change before putting it in the agreement.”

Chris Abercrombie said the apparent lack of a valid rationale for the change set a very dangerous precedent. “Who’s to know whether the government will decide a little further down the track that the guidance for the science curriculum, or the social studies curriculum needs to be removed – for equally invalid reasons?”

PPTA Te Wehengarua intends to raise its concerns with the Minister of Education, Erica Stanford, at its first meeting with her soon.

Last modified on Tuesday, 5 December 2023 12:05