Education Minister Julie Edge has pledged to publish in full – albeit with names redacted - the report into the teaching of sex education.
The Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum, which was introduced in secondary schools in September 2020, was put on hold in all schools in February this year while an independent investigation was carried out following a parental complaint about a lesson that was given at Queen Elizabeth II High School in Peel.
It was a story which made lurid headlines in the UK media, which outlined unfounded allegations about inappropriate sex education lessons being taught in our schools.
One page executive summaries of the two parts of the investigation have so far been published on the Department of Education, Sport and Culture’s website – and the latest one appears to be a summary not of findings but of recommendations.
But the Education Minister said: ‘I want the full report published as soon as possible. It has got to be redacted as there is so much personal information. They are in the middle of redacting it at the minute. There is so much personal data – clearly it’s parents, it’s staff and officers.’
Part one of the investigation examined claims that a drag queen had delivered a sex education talk to year seven pupils at QEII in September 2022.
It found that, contrary to what had been alleged, no one was dressed in drag, the speaker did not deliver a sex education talk and had not asked a pupil to leave the classroom during a discussion on gender identities.
Results of part two of the investigation were released on Tuesday this week.
It concludes that the RSE curriculum taught at QEII is appropriate and lessons should resume. But it recommends there should be improved communication with parents and greater specialisation and training for teachers.
Ms Edge said delivery of RSE would resume early in 2024 following talks with all schools.
She said: ‘We’ve got the report, we are redacting it, we will make sure we get it out and as soon as the schools are back we are going to delve into the report with our professionals to make sure that what we do bring back into the classroom is done with well-trained teachers who are specialists in this area to ensure we deliver the same curriculum throughout all the schools in the island.’
The minister added: ‘The RSE curriculum has been getting delivered in our schools since September 2020 so it wasn’t new, and followed the Scottish advisory model.
‘Where there were problems was when some people suddenly jumped online and looked at the Scottish curriculum.
‘But that’s an advisory curriculum – it’s down to the teachers to plan their lessons appropriate to the students they’ve got in front of them.’
Asked if the investigation could have been conducted more swiftly to address the concerns arising from the UK headlines and avoid any reputational damage to the island, she replied: ‘I think with a regard to whether there was a drag queen in our schools, that could have been answered much quicker but we had already gone into that independent process.
‘We could have looked at that differently.’