Councillors in the Western Isles have chosen educational materials provided for Catholic schools over Scottish Government-approved resources in the teaching of personal and social education.

A special meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on Monday night (30 November) voted overwhelmingly to support a motion rejecting the use of the national resource on the topic.

The national resource for relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP) education for children and young people was designed for early learning settings, schools, colleges and community-based learning. It sits within the existing Curriculum for Excellence.

At a special meeting of the Comhairle on Monday night (30 November), the council voted 23-4 to reject its use in favour of alternative materials now being used by the Scottish Catholic Education Services, with adjustments where appropriate.

Cllr Calum Maclean (Loch a Tuath) proposed a motion for the decision which was seconded by Cllr Gordon Murray (Stornoway North). After a long debate, a vote was taken and Cllr Maclean’s motion won by 23-4.

Cllr Maclean said: “Some of the resources within the revised rshp.scot materials used in the teaching of relationships, sexual health and parenthood are, in my opinion, most inappropriate for teaching in our schools and a significant number of parents, carers, faith groups and staff voiced their concerns to us.

“I am relieved that a significant number of councillors were also of the same opinion and voted to reject these resources. Now that Western Isles schools are to adopt these alternative resources, I feel that this will relieve these anxieties.”

Cllr Murray said: “I am delighted that the Comhairle has listened to the concerns of the community and dismissed these inappropriate materials. Thanks to all those who supported Cllr Maclean and myself in what was quite a fraught debate.”

The RSHP had received grant funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig to provide the materials in Gaelic within the course of this school year, working with NHS Western Isles to complete the translation.

You can find the rejected curriculum materials here https://rshp.scot and the Scottish Catholic Education resource to be amended for Western Isles schools here https://sces.org.uk/health-relationships/.