FET advisor Professor David Paton is Chair of Industrial Economics at Nottingham University Business School and co-editor of the International Journal of the Economics of Business. David’s research interests cover a diverse range of topics including the sport, the post-Brexit economy, gambling policy and health. His work examining the impact of birth control policy on teenage pregnancy has been published in peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of Health Economics, Social Science & Medicine and Demography. David has acted as an advisor to several Government departments including the DTI, National Audit Office and HMRC.
We asked him why he chose to become an advisor for FET:
Why did you decide to get involved with Family Education Trust?
I was introduced to FET through my involvement with the pro-life movement. I was impressed by the way FET focused so carefully on the evidence or lack of it for Government policies towards children, sexual health and education.
What are the main issues you are concerned about?
There are many worrying aspects of Government policy towards sexual health and RSE in schools, but perhaps the worst is the way schools are pressurised to facilitate access to birth control including abortion for minors without the need even to inform parents, let alone for parental consent. As the late Norman Wells demonstrated so well in his analysis of serious case reviews, keeping parents out of the loop in these decisions has often facilitated child sexual exploitation. Vulnerable children are being let down by the adults in Government and sex education “establishment” and it is long past time for time for a new approach.
What are your views on RSE in schools?
Most of the evidence suggests that RSE in schools is remarkably ineffective as a tool for tackling outcomes such as teenage pregnancy, STIs and so on. That doesn’t necessarily mean schools have no role in providing RSE but, rather, schools should not feel pressure to put in place a particular model of RSE as a means of improving health outcomes. Rather schools should work with parents to decide what information their children need, at what age and in what form. There is certainly no case for a one-size-fits-all approach to RSE curricula imposed by the Government.
Anything else you’d like to share with our followers?
If you are a parent, engage with the school about the timing and content of RSE they deliver to your children. Most schools want to do the right thing, but may not be aware of the full implications of teaching RSE at too early an age or the dangers of promoting birth control to minors without involving parents.
If you work in a school, remember that parents are the ones primarily responsible for educating their children and involve them in all sensitive decisions. Be aware of nice-sounding phrases which often appear in mainstream RSE advice and materials but are actually very dangerous for children, e.g. “confidential services” = no even informing parents about critical health interventions involving their children; “only you can decide when it is right to start having sex” = a value free approach to RSE that indicates underage sexual activity may be acceptable in some circumstances.
David has over 38,000 followers on his popular Twitter page. You can follow him here David Paton (@cricketwyvern) / Twitter