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Governor resigns over contents of sex education film shown to pupils
12:00pm Saturday 4th August 2012 in Wiltshire
A controversial sex education film being shown in Wiltshire schools has prompted a Westbury governor to resign, criticising it as ‘too much, too young’.
The Living and Growing DVD, produced by Channel 4 for children aged five-11, has drawn criticism from government minister Nick Gibb and has since been withdrawn from sale.
Westbury Leigh Primary School governor Keith Miller resigned earlier this month over the showing of the film in lessons after 12 years in the role.
He said: “Sex education in schools is essential, but the important thing is the way it is done, and this film was showing far too much to children at far too young an age.
“I wanted to see it for myself after hearing about the content, which I have done, but was told I couldn’t go along to a showing of the film to parents, which seemed very wrong to me.
“Unfortunately I missed the session where the rest of the governors watched the tape, which is why I wanted to see it with the parents, so I could talk to them about it.
“Since they said no, I had to find out about the content of the film myself, being shown in a school where I was a governor. There’s something very wrong about that.
“All the other governors approved of it being shown and it was suggested I might like to abstain when we voted, but I objected and they went ahead anyway. I couldn’t agree with that.”
Among the DVD’s complained-about scenes is one in which a naked cartoon couple frolic before having sex in various positions, intended for children aged nine-10.
Wiltshire Council said schools were not obliged to show the DVD and it remains an option for those which own it already, since it has now been withdrawn.
A spokesman said: “We don’t recommend resources to schools but do share details of those that are available. Individual schools select the resources that they feel best meet the needs of their pupils.”
Mum Hayley Robinson went to the parents’ viewing session at Westbury Leigh earlier this year. She regards the film as too graphic for her 10-year-old son Benjamin.
The 44-year-old, of Storridge Road, said: “In general I thought the film was age appropriate where it showed how children’s bodies change as they grow older.
“But other parts concerned me; I felt it was inappropriate for such young children and amounted to showing them porn, so I said I didn’t want my son to see it.
“I don’t try to hide things from my children and I’m no prude, although that’s how I was made to feel when the school told me my son would be one of a ‘select few’ not watching. I was one of very few people who made it to the viewing, and I think other parents should be aware of what is being shown to their children so they can make their own choice.”
Governor Jonathan Burke, a rector with the White Horse Team Ministry in Westbury, confirmed that the body’s decision to show the film was otherwise unanimous.
“We all thought hard about it, but in the end we felt it was appropriate material for those age groups,” he said.
“For example, we took advice from the Salisbury diocese on it and they recognised the film as a useful resource, and parents also have the option to opt out should they wish to.
“As with all these things these decisions are frequently reviewed, but it was the opinion of the governors and the headteacher that this was the right thing to do.”