'What Is The Evidence?': Gillian Keegan Struggles To Explain Reason Behind Sex Education Ban

The education secretary was grilled by BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stayt.
Charlie Stayt and Gillian Keegan on BBC Breakfast.
Charlie Stayt and Gillian Keegan on BBC Breakfast.

A Tory minister struggled to explain why the government has introduced a controversial crackdown on sex education.

New guidelines published today ban any sex lessons for children under 9, while under-13s will not be taught that it is possible for them to change gender.

It follows a review of how sex education is taught in English schools by the schools watchdog Ofsted.

On BBC Breakfast this morning, education secretary Gillian Keegan was quizzed on the reasons behind the shake-up.

Presenter Charlie Stayt asked her: “What is the evidence that there has been inappropriate teaching?”

Keegan replied: “Well it was actually more of a request as a result of that review to provide more clarity.

“Obviously there’s been loads of newspaper reports, we’ve had certain parents saying they couldn’t access materials and we’ve seen campaign group or lobby groups’ materials - some people say they’ve seen them in schools, some people saying ‘we haven’t had them in our school’.

“The point is, when we did the review, there were lots of teachers and headteachers saying more clarity is required here in terms of age appropriateness, so we’ve responded to that.”

But Stayt replied: “My question was about evidence, so if I were to ask you to give me an example of a classroom you’ve been told about, that you’ve seen evidence for - not anecdotal - an image or something was used in a classroom for an under 9-year-old, what’s the evidence?”

Struggling to answer, the minister said: “Choosing lots of different genders and identities and saying which ones of these are gender identities ... the spectrum ... it can be a spectrum, it’s fluid, you can different genders on different days, there’s 72 of them. That kind of thing.”

Keegan added: “We’ve received evidence to say that they’ve been taught in classrooms, but what we need to do is say that shouldn’t be taught in classrooms.

“What we’ve done is say that is a contested view, that should not be taught in our schools.”

A teaching union boss yesterday accused ministers of using pupils as “a political football”.

Pepe Di’Iasio, general secretary of the association of school and college leaders, told Radio Four’s Today programme: “Teachers and professionals will feel that these issues are perhaps being politicised when we want well-informed and evidence-based decisions that have got clarity behind them.

“I can’t help but feel that the fact we’re hearing about these on the front page of newspapers today means that what we’re seeing is that pupils are being placed in the middle of a highly-sensitive subject and being used as a political football for the sake of headlines when we should be focusing on their wellbeing.”


What's Hot