New website plans to return powers to the parents of nation’s schoolchildren

Apr 26, 2018 by

Church of England Newspaper April 26th

LAWS AND policies pursued by successive government have been undermining the family, a leading politician has claimed.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Chair of the Lords and Commons Child and Family Protection Group, made his comments at the launch of ParentPower, a new website that was launched in Parliament last week. The DUP MP for Lagan Valley said that more resources were needed because the family was the ‘building block’ of society and has a central role in the life of communities and the nation.

“We are dealing every day with broken people who do not have the support that they need,” he said. As an MP he told the meeting that he met many single parents trying to cope with a system that they just find ‘bewildering’. He continued:

“The role of the parent in education has been diminished because the system is becoming more bureaucratic and less accessible. You almost have to have a degree to understand the memoranda and letters you get from school.

“The ParentPower website will provide support for parents, offering a platform from which parents can get help and advice and empowering them to take their rightful place in the education system. Parents do not have the support they need or the advice they require about their children’s education.”

He spoke of the difficulty in getting people to become parent governors because they feel so intimidated by all these regulations. “We want parents to have more knowledge to benefit their own children and children within the school community and to see parents take their place again within the education system.”

He claimed that the Christian ethos which promoted the place of the family had been eroded, and the wide variety of faiths in the nation are being pushed out of the education system. He said that parents need to reassert that they want faith influences to be part of the educational experience of their children.

‘Parent power is the last thing that the system wants. The state provides the education but the parents have the responsibility’.

The website introduces itself as “a group of parents and educators who believe that the primary responsibility for the education of children rests with their parents… government education policies are overriding parental rights and are adversely affecting the development, safety and wellbeing of the nation’s children and young people.”

The Rev Lynda Rose from Oxford explained that a conference on ‘What are they teaching the children?’ in 2017 alerted parents that what was being taught in schools was putting children at risk. She said that the current state of the law intimidated parents. ‘They wanted a website like Mumsnet for parents, where they could chat to each other, learn all about the latest issues and the hard facts. They wanted somewhere to email for advocacy help.

A coalition including SPUC, Christian Concern, Christian Education Europe with Voice for Justice UK led by Lynda Rose, developed the website. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson noted that the new website would be crucial for giving information about the laws that protect and empower parents to such people as a single parent called Liane, who addressed the meeting.

Liane is now homeschooling her two children aged 15 and 5 after her daughter and she experienced ‘appalling intimidation and bullying’ from their school. Shortly before her daughter’s 12th birthday she was distressed at the sexualisation of children and the confusing sexual messages the children were receiving. The school “did not take kindly to my complaint”, she said. Her daughter was taken out of class every day and grilled: ‘is your mother mentally ill? Is she having a nervous breakdown? Is there anything you want to tell us about your mother?’ “They destroyed her phone and disassembled her scooter. She begged me through tears not to let her go back to school.”

Dr Tom Rogers of SPUC asked, if such behaviour takes place while Relationships and Sex Education was optional, what will happen when it becomes compulsory? “Parental rights of withdrawal from sex education rests on an as yet undefined distinction between sex education and relationships education. The right of withdrawal looks dubious unless parents can decide what counts as sex education.

“They seem determined to forcibly indoctrinate our children with this new official state ideology,” he said. Ed Matyjaszek, the head of The Priory School on the Isle of Wight, spelt out the expression of parents’ rights in the Universal Declaration:

“The state shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity to their own religious and philosophical convictions.” Section 405 of the UK 1996 Education Act gives a parent the right to withdraw their child from sex education. But school officials do not observe this in practice since many are ignorant of, and misapply, the law, he said.

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