A new Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum, launched in September, has been put on hold while an independent review takes place.

This comes after growing concerns from parents about their children being exposed to ‘unacceptable RSE material’.

A petition calling for the suspension of the curriculum by parents and caregivers of children aged 11 to 13 at Queen Elizabeth II High School was launched on Friday, February 17.

It had reached 276 signatures by the time we went to press.

The detailed letter said: ‘We consider there has been a complete failure of safeguards, training, curriculum assessment and consideration of the Isle of Man education policy in respect of the delivery of PSHE at your school.’

It added: ‘What we find wholly unacceptable and consider unsafe and placing children at risk of harm is the graphic, disproportionate, indecent presentation of sexual acts, materials and different gender identities (including graphic detail of transgender operations) within Key Stage 3.’

A statement from the Department of Education, Sport and Culture said: ‘The department is aware of the concerns being raised around the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum currently being delivered within secondary schools.

‘The department is also aware of the wider conversation online which is highlighting a level of public concern, I would urge those concerned to contact the head teacher of their school.

‘In light of this public comment, the department feels it appropriate to deploy an independent review, to gain an independent understanding of what has taken place and the facts of the situation understood.

‘As such, the department has taken the decision to pause all RSE delivery across both primary and secondary schools, and will be unable to comment any further until the facts have been established. We would ask the public not to speculate any further until such time.

‘The purpose of the RSE Advisory Curriculum is to ensure that children and young people develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes they need to support their emotional and physical wellbeing.

‘Providing this guidance to schools helps work towards consistency across the island’s schools, provides staff with equal access to high quality resources, and ensures that age and stage appropriate content is delivered to students.

‘The RSE Advisory Curriculum identifies themes and concepts from a number of sources including, but not limited to, Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP), Childnet, The PSHE Association and Public Health England.

‘The content provided is tailored and adapted for the island’s schools and it is not an exact replication.

‘The guidance shares links to resources that teaching staff can access and adapt. However, there is no requirement to use any of the resources; school professionals will select the resources they wish to deliver within their school to meet the needs of their students.’