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Reminder to schools of legal obligation to consult

30 October 2000 Media Statement

Reminder to schools of legal obligation to consult

Education Minister Trevor Mallard has moved to remind schools of their legal obligation to consult with parents regarding the scope and treatment of health education, including sexuality education.

The move follows a complaint from the Quality Public Education Coalition about a leaflet distributed to 4th form students at a state secondary school. The complaint did not name the school.

"The letter of complaint asked me three specific questions:

 Does the government agree that the presentation of this material to students in a state secondary school without parental consultation is unacceptable?
 Does the government believe that a state school should allow students to be pressured into signing such a formidable pledge without parent or guardian input or involvement?
 What value does the government believe this material may have in a state school to inform and assist young people in making sensible decisions about sex and sexuality?

"My answer to the first question is yes. My answer to the second question is no.

"I think that Section 105c of the Education Act which requires schools to consult parents of their students regarding the scope and treatment of health education, including their sexuality education programme, would apply in this situation.

"In consulting with parents, schools would have to engage them in the issue including asking for feedback. That would include explaining clearly what was proposed.

"In regard to the third question, it is not the Government's role to make value judgements on this type of material on an ad hoc basis. What is important is that schools meet their legal obligation to consult with parents.

"I have not received any formal complaint or confirmation which detail the process followed in this specific case. I will therefore not comment on whether due process has been followed.

"The school has been named in some media reports. If parents feel they were not properly consulted, it is a matter for them to raise initially with their school board," Trevor Mallard said.


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