A controversial survey asking children about their sexual experience has been put on hold in Fife.
The health and wellbeing census will not be put to kingdom schoolchildren until March at the earliest, to allow scrutiny of the questions to be posed.
There is widespread concern about the sexually explicit nature of questions to be put to S4 to S6 pupils – some of whom are still only 14 years old.
On Wednesday we revealed excerpts from the survey as recommended by the Scottish Government – although councils will determine the final content of their own Q&As.
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Fife councillors decided on Thursday to postpone the survey until it can scrutinised by the region’s education and children’s services sub-committee at its next meeting on March 1.
Conservative councillor Kathleen Leslie had tabled an emergency motion at Thursday’s meeting of the full council requesting the delay, and was relieved that it was unanimously agreed, allowing consideration of what she said were “inappropriate” questions.
She said: “I struggle to understand why people from any walk of life, and particularly young people, need to be asked questions like these.”
Under the survey as proposed by the Scottish Government, Ms Leslie pointed out that children who are not legally old enough to have sex would be asked if they had taken part in specific sexual acts which an adult would feel uncomfortable talking about.
She also said it pries into whether a young person has a boyfriend or girlfriend.
“That sort of question in itself is deeply personal and can potentially impact on a young person who is struggling with their sexuality or who is not in a relationship.
“We’re not asking for the survey to be blocked – we’re asking for caution and for us to consider our position fully before considering whether or not to proceed with it.”
Councillors have requested a report to the sub-committee outlining the questions and explaining why the census is necessary, how the data will be used and who will see it and data protection measures.
Pupils from P5 to S6 will be asked to complete the census in school, but some questions will only be put to older children.
They – and parents on their behalf – will be able to opt out.