To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that parents have access to the materials used to teach their children (a) relationships, sex and health education, (b) religious education and (c) other subjects in the curriculum.
All schools have a duty to share information concerning their curriculum with parents, including Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) and Religious Education (RE). The department has been very clear that schools should respond positively where parents request to see specific materials.
The Secretary of State wrote to schools again on Tuesday 24 October to clarify schools’ legal position and to make it clear that they can and should share RSHE curriculum materials with parents. Copyright restrictions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act do not prevent schools from doing this. Schools can lawfully share copies of resources with parents and any contract clauses that seek to prevent schools from doing this are void and unenforceable. This is because they contradict the public policy interest in ensuring parents know what their children are being taught. The department is aware that some parents have particular concerns regarding materials used to teach RSHE.
As part of the review of the RSHE statutory guidance, the department will strengthen the guidance, in line with the Secretary of State’s letters, to help schools to share materials with parents.
It will remain important that schools take full responsibility for ensuring lessons and materials are age appropriate, suitable, and politically impartial, particularly when using materials produced by external organisations.
Schools may choose to use curriculum materials developed by Oak, an Arm’s Length Body, working independently of government and collaboratively with the education sector. Oak works with teachers across the country, providing them and their pupils with free, optional, and adaptable high quality digital curriculum resources. Their current resources are available at: https://www.thenational.academy/#teachers. Oak is now developing new resources for eight more subject areas including for RSHE and RE.
Schedule 4 Paragraph 7(a) of the School Information Regulations (England) 2008/3093 requires all maintained schools to publish their school curriculum on their website. The guidance for this is outlined online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/what-maintained-schools-must-publish-online. All academies must follow a similar process for their school curriculum. The guidance for this is outlined online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/what-academies-free-schools-and-colleges-should-publish-online.
If a parent feels that a maintained school is failing to comply with its legal requirements relating to the provision of the curriculum, or that a school is acting unreasonably in the way it complies with them, they can make a formal complaint to the governing body by following the school’s statutory complaints procedures.