Sex and Relationship Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 21st July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Pearson of Rannoch Lord Pearson of Rannoch Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Berridge on 4 June (HL4788, HL4789 and HL4790), whether parents will have the right to withdraw primary school children from all sex education from September; and if so, how they may do so.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department is committed to supporting schools to deliver high quality teaching of Relationships Education in primary, Relationships and Sex Education in secondary, and Health Education in all state-funded schools.

In light of the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, and following engagement with the sector, the department is reassuring schools that although the subjects will still be compulsory from 1 September 2020, schools have flexibility over how they discharge their duty within the first year of compulsory teaching. For further information, I refer the noble Lord to the answer given on 10 June 2020 to Question 55660.

The statutory guidance states that although Relationships Education for all primary-age pupils is compulsory, sex education is not compulsory in primary schools (excluding compulsory content covered in the science curriculum). It is for primary schools to determine whether they need to cover any additional content on sex education to meet the needs of their pupils.

If a primary school chooses to teach sex education, they will be required to publish a policy on this and allow parents the right to withdraw their child. If a parent wishes to withdraw their child from sex education, this request must be complied with by the headteacher. The statutory guidance, which was published in June 2019, can be accessed via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.

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