Ed Balls has announced that parents can no longer pull their children out of sex education classes in England once they turn 15.
It is a move away from the government’s position in 2008, when Schools Minister Jim Knight stated that:
I think it's important for individual parents' views to be taken into account in some of these sensitive areas and their right to withdraw from parts of education in those areas that they do not feel comply with their moral views and beliefs and that they will be better dealing with in the home…That would be something that would take us a lot of persuading to move away from.
This is yet more meddling in education. Ed Balls justifies the move by the facts that the age of consent is 16 and the voting age 18. How this relates to forcing even independent schools to teach sex education to 15 year olds is beyond a rational mind.
By taking increasing amounts of power away from schools and parents, this policy is weakening the individuals and institutions that will enable children to be brought up in a way that is fitting for their needs. If schools wish to offer an abundance of sex and relationship advice, then parents should be free to send their children to those schools. However, if instead the parent wishes to offer their child a slower jolt into adulthood than most children get at present, I can think of no reason why the state should be involved in this decision. Depending on the circumstances and the child, different approaches will be appropriate.
Ed Balls argues that this policy will only impact upon a "very small minority" who currently choose to opt out; their wishes are to be sacrificed so he can build "a strong consensus". Without wishing to come across as too conservative on these matters, much of the strong consensus that makes up the statist fabric of 21st century mores, is worth opting your children out of. As such, on this as with all aspects of education, the state should leave well alone.