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Council leader Sandy Bruce-Lockhart
"Marriage is the foundation of a civilised society"
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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 12:58 GMT
Schools to promote marriage?
Marriage needs supporting in schools, says council
Marriage, patriotism and religion will receive a higher profile in schools in Kent, under proposals before the local authority.

The county's education committee will consider a proposal on Wednesday which would see more traditional, "moral values" being promoted in the curriculum.

The changes, which would affect the personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum, are backed by the Conservative council leader Sandy Bruce-Lockhart.

"We want to value family and marriage as the foundation of a civilised society, take pride in our county, our country and our nation's great institutions, traditions, heritage and history," said Mr Bruce-Lockhart on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The council leader said he was "fed up" with a politically correct government which "seems incapable of mentioning marriage without mentioning stable relationships and seems incapable of saying that we are a Christian country".

Mr Bruce-Lockhart emphasised that the proposals required "an understanding, tolerance and respect for others" and that any support for Christianity as the "national religion" would also have to recognise "religious diversity".

This was challenged by a spokesman for the local branch of the National Union of Teachers, who questioned whether the promotion of Christianity was compatible with a multi-cultural and secular society.

Teenage pregnancies

The proposals to support marriage and the family, Mr Bruce-Lockhart said, were an attempt to tackle a national problem of "social breakdown, teenage pregnancies and the non-formation of families".

"The school and its curriculum play a major part in any community and should build on and support moral values at home," he said.

A senior government source rejected suggestions that Labour had failed to defend marriage - as a "silly, partisan" misrepresentation.

The current government is the first to have emphasised the importance of marriage in the national curriculum, he said.

If the proposals are passed by the county's education committee, there will be a consultation process with head teachers.

Last year, when the government was seeking the abolition of Section 28, which prevents local authorities promoting homosexuality, Mr Bruce-Lockhart promised that Kent would continue with its own ban.

Kent is also one of the few remaining fully-selective education authorities.

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See also:

04 Feb 00 | Education
Schools will get their own Section 28
26 Oct 99 | Education
Council bans French meat in schools
27 Mar 00 | Education
Anti-grammar campaign suspended
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