The Department of Education yesterday confirmed its intention to ensure that there is a sex offender employed in every school in England and Wales by 2012. “We feel that this is a realistic target based upon both the availability of suitably qualified offenders and the number of schools still offender-less,” explained a Department spokesperson, who also confirmed that primary schools will be given priority in the provision of convicted sex perverts. “We believe that it is essential that children are exposed to these people from the earliest possible age. With sexual abuse becoming an increasingly important part of childhood in Britain, we believe that pupils can only benefit by having available in the classroom, the very best sex offenders we can find.” Junior Education Minister Sandy Knott moved quickly to clarify the government’s position, amid the inevitable furious reaction by press and parents to the original announcement. “Obviously, when we say ‘sex offender’, we don’t mean actual peadophiles – they’ll be carefully screened to weed out the kiddie fiddlers,” he reassured the media at a hastily convened press conference this morning. “We will only be considering the likes of regular voyeurs, gropers, stalkers and animal fetishists. Moreover, all of the offenders employed will, of course, be fully qualified teachers. Parents need not fear that their children’s education will in any way suffer from this initiative.” He also attempted to quell fears that the new scheme would involve pupils actually being taught sexual abuse by professional nonces. “Contrary to what the Daily Mail might be claiming, the real purpose of this exercise is not to perpetuate sexual deviance by using our schools to foster a new generation of perverts,” Knott explained. “Rather, we hope to educate them to recognise sexual abuse when they see it – how to differentiate between the harmless attentions of a doting grandfather offering them boiled sweets, for instance, and the sexually depraved advances of an ‘uncle’ who shows them photographs of his genitals. The problem is that today’s kids just don’t get out enough – they spend far too much time indoors playing on their games consoles, rather than hanging around local parks where they are more likely to meet neighbourhood perverts. Consequently, they’re at risk because they don’t have the experience to spot these dangerous sexual predators. I’m confident that by the time we’ve finished, Britain’s children will be able to recognise a sex offender at twenty paces!”

Critics have been quick to point out that the announcement of this new policy initiative has conveniently coincided with press revelations that sex offenders had been cleared by the Education Department to teach in schools, unbeknownst to either parents or governors. Nevertheless, Knott denies a cover-up. “What the press stumbled upon were the pilot schemes we were running at several schools,” he claims. “The panic subsequently whipped up by them vindicates our decision to run these schemes secretly! The fact is that not one child has been molested in a year of these trials! Consequently, we felt we had no choice but to publicly unveil this new policy initiative and properly explain it to the public.” However, both press and parents’ groups have taken issue with Knott’s claim that no children were molested during the pilot scheme, pointing out that the school at the centre of the press revelations – the Diana Dors Technical School in Swindon – had been forced to suspend two of its sex offenders. “In one case the woodwork teacher, Mr Jampton, was found slapping one of the pupils around the face with his todger! If that isn’t sexual abuse, I don’t know what is,” says Mrs Miriam Froud, Chairperson of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). “As if that wasn’t bad enough, another teacher, Mr Lopcock, set homework for his students which involved them secretly taking intimate photographs of their families and neighbours!” The school’s headmistress, Joan Chabob, has tried to play down the incidents. “I agree that Hugh Jampton’s actions were completely unacceptable – in no way does this school endorse the use of corporal punishment. Hugh knows full well that he should simply have given the boy a hundred lines, or, at most, a detention,” she explained. “As for the other incident, Mr Lopcock has assured me that it was part of a sociology project about the prevalence of voyeurism in modern society.” Chabob echoed the Education Minister in reassuring parents that all official sex offenders were carefully screened before being allowed into the classroom. “Obviously, it would be quite inappropriate to allow someone who had a history of publicly exposing himself to take a class of twelve year olds – we employed him as the life model for the art department, instead,” she told a meeting of the PTA. “As far as the two suspended teachers are concerned, whilst both are registered sex offenders, not only were both were considered to be safe around children, but both had excellent records at their previous schools, with record exam pass rates amongst their students. Mr Jampton had a conviction for bestiality, so we just kept him away from the school hamsters, whilst Mr Lopcock’s convictions all involved stalking older women. Frankly, we suspected the mothers would be more at risk from him than the girls – at worst we thought one of the sixth formers might get her knockers groped round the back of the bike sheds, but that’s a small price to pay in order to maintain our position in the school league tables. Besides, as the sixth formers are technically adults, that wouldn’t count as child abuse!”

Not surprisingly, Chabob’s comments have met with astonishment. “I find it hard to believe that any professional teacher could have such a lackadaisical attitude toward such a serious issue,” declares Tory backbencher Sir Adam Pinkler, himself a former teacher. “We had far higher standards in my day – only the right types were allowed into the classroom, none of these bloody liberals, sociology graduates and sex perverts! We got good exam results too – the little bastards got thrashed within an inch of their lives until they knew the bloody curriculum! That was the main qualification for teaching in those days – not how many convictions for public indecency you had, but how good a right arm you had for wielding the cane against those firm young bottoms! Nothing instils respect in a brat more than having their pants pulled down and being given twenty stokes across their bare cheeks!” But condemnation for this initiative is not universal. “Last week my eleven year old son came home and described, in graphic, detail several acts of sexual perversity, employing a series of colourful euphemisms. I was well impressed,” says Rod Scope, whose son attends one of the schools in the pilot scheme. “I was at least seventeen before I knew even half of that stuff! I’m all for this new initiative – the old comprehensive I went to left me ill-equipped to navigate the adult male world of double-entendre, smutty banter and gross sexual innuendo! With sex offenders in the classroom, the state education sector is at last coming into line with those expensive private schools for providing kids with the right kind of initiation into the murky world of adult sexuality!”