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Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Kirk warns over sex education report
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The committee will report to the General Assembly
The Church of Scotland has criticised a government report on sex education for failing to offer guidance on how to tackle the issue of abuse.

The comments came in its response to a consultation document produced by the Scottish Executive.

The church's education committee said there should be clear guidelines on how to identify and deal with sexual abuse.

It also urged that children are given an appreciation of the value of commitment in relationships.

Pupils in class
Pupils will be taught the value of stable relationships
The criticisms came as it emerged that the church plans to keep the issue of sex education in Scotland's schools under the spotlight by raising concerns at this year's General Assembly.

New guidance on sex education in Scottish schools was announced by the executive last month in an effort to close the final chapter on the Section 28 controversy.

The detailed guidance, which includes a separate leaflet designed to reassure parents, states that pupils will be encouraged to appreciate the value of commitment in relationships.

MSPs voted to scrap the law, which barred the promotion of homosexuality, last June.

The vote followed a lengthy political row and the creation of the Keep The Clause campaign by millionaire Stagecoach owner Brian Souter.

The consultation exercise and resulting guidance seemed to have placated most critics, including Cardinal Thomas Winning, leader of Scotland's Catholics, who said it would "offer some reassurance to many of those who feared the worst."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We have taken these concerns into account, together with comments from other organisations."

'Positive step'

The Church of Scotland welcomed executive recommendations that children are taught the value placed on marriage by religious groups and others in Scottish society.

The Church of Scotland said it viewed the guidance as a "positive step".

But the Rev Jack Laidlaw, convener of the education committee, said it would be looking to ensure that parents are consulted closely as the guidance is implemented by schools.

"If the executive's circular requires schools to consult with parents, then we would hope that local congregations will be trying to support parents to take up this responsibility properly and well," he said.

"What we are hoping is that the executive will move on with its programme and that parental consultation will be taking place. Many schools already do this and we hope others will follow suit."

The committee is due to include a summary of its consultation submissions in its report to the General Assembly.

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See also:

22 Mar 01 | Scotland
Sex education guidance unveiled
22 Mar 01 | Scotland
Broad welcome for sex guidance
21 Jun 00 | Scotland
MSPs abolish Section 28
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