Monday 13 December 2010

Auditing abortion education

Education For Choice has been trying to get hold of teachers in schools across England to find out what they're teaching about abortion, how and what outside visiting speakers they're using to deliver it. Teachers - being busy, seeing PSHE as a low priority, fearing that we are going to publish their good practice and get Daily Mailed, or tell them off for their bad practice - have been poor respondents.

That's why we're asking people to let us know what they can about what's being taught in UK schools.
Here are some quotes left on our A Word blog about people's experiences of how school handles the topic. I don't think these experiences are out of the ordinary:

Like my sons 'community' school which is run by a headmistress and head of governers who both attend the same local church and give voice to every fundamentalist roadshow and preacher that passes by. My objection is people like this who use their own private personally held beliefs to inform school policy. The no opt out is really the only way you will get anything like this past people in control who have a religious axe to grind.
Comment on 'A Word' Blog

I finished secondary school a couple of years ago. Quite a lot of girls were pregnant whilst at school, and everyone knew at least one person who had an abortion, so they knew the 'reality'. We never had people come in to the school to talk to us about abortion and it didn't come up until year 11. That was only because we needed to know religious views on abortion for our RE exam! It was nothing to do with giving us information that may affect us in life - and I think this is one of the issues - schools have become focused on exams and not the emotional/other sides of life.
Comment on 'A Word' blog

Everyone out there has an experience of abortion education we want to hear about. It will probably fall into about five broad categories:

  1. We were taught nothing about pregnancy decision-making and abortion
  2. We were only taught about it in RE and in terms of different religious perspectives, but with no practical content about relationships, decision-making, contraception etc
  3. We were taught about it in RE/PSHE by having outside speakers come in from anti-abortion organisations, giving us questionable information/complete misinformation and/or showing us gory images and film footage
  4. We were taught about it in a debate style where we had a speaker from 'one side' and then from the 'other side' to talk about the moral issues
  5. We were taught about it by our SRE/PSHE teacher and we looked at it in the context of relationships, decision-making, risk taking, contraception

You could send us your experiences as a student, teacher or parent about what is happening in your/your child's school.

If you are happy to let us know your school's name and borough that would be great. Just so we know that all our feedback isn't from the same school!

This kind of feedback however anecdotal is important - especially in the absence of a more comprehensive study of what's happening out there.

It would be great if you could send this email out far and wide to get as many responses as possible

If you want your comment to be anonymous you could leave it as a comment on this blog. If you are happy for us to be in touch or want your feedback to be less public please email us with your story


  1. When I was 16 I was taught about abortion under the heading "RE" There were no facts given to us about abortion and most of the research the teacher left for us to do on our own using the internet. Now 4 years later im studing for a degree in Early childhood studies and realsing the lack of information I was given as a pupil and what damaging affects this could have had on my friend or me. I dont blame the teachers because I've learnt this is the case in most schools.
    -the westwood school, coventry

  2. I was taught horrible things that put me off having an abortion in school.
    Just the facts about the way its done, the risks etc put me off for life.
    We learnt about the Religious points of view but never really any thing about family consequences, emotional health etc.
    I went to a non religious, mixed, state school and I became pregnant at 16 and kept my baby. (much to my delight now!) but realistically I was very very much swayed by the emphasis put on how horrible the procedure is.

    Holland Park secondary school, London.