Parental Involvement in Teaching: Equality Act

Part of Petition - Closure of Heywood Crown Post Office – in the House of Commons at 4:38 pm on 25th June 2019.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 4:38 pm, 25th June 2019

That, again, is a matter for the judgment of the school. The school will know its communities, and that is why we are saying—and it is a requirement—that on these issues the schools should be consulting parents. All the best schools in the country consult their parents on a wide range of issues, and they may even consult them on issues such as arithmetic. It is very important to have parental engagement with a school. I know schools that talk to parents about how reading is taught in their schools—if they are introducing a new phonics scheme, they will want to talk to parents about such issues. So, I think parental engagement is important on this particular curriculum.

The Secretary of State and I are clear that we support any school that, having engaged with parents and listened to their views, takes a reasonable decision to teach their pupils about LGBT people and relationships. The guidance on relationships education and RSE makes it clear that pupils should receive LGBT-inclusive relationship and sex education during their school years. The Department strongly encourages primary schools to teach about families with same-sex parents. In most cases that will be possible and will be an important part of the education about respect for difference that is right for all pupils. I hope that in all cases, parents will have discussed these topics with their child’s school and have an understanding of their approach. I hope that they will have satisfied themselves that the school is teaching the right things at the right age to complement what they teach their child on the importance of respecting other people.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green for his views on this important topic. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and on matters such as equality, respect and relationships, schools complement what the child is taught at home. It is therefore crucial that schools and parents engage in constructive dialogue to understand each other’s views. Only through open communication can trust be built and maintained, and proper respect shown for difference.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.