THE FAMILY EDUCATION TRUST reports — From September 2020 Relationships Education will become compulsory in all primary schools and Relation-ships and Sex Education (RSE) in all secondary schools in England. In preparation, the Department for Education (DfE) is currently working closely with over 1,600 schools which have introduced the new subjects on a voluntary basis during the current academic year.
According to the Schools Minister Nick Gibb, this engagement with early adopter schools will assist the DIE in the deve-lopment of its programme of online support for the new subjects which will `offer opportunities for teachers to imp-rove subject knowledge, build confidence and share best practice’ and include `innovative materials to support staff training’)
Asked whether the training provided for schools would be fully LGBT-inclusive, Mr Gibb responded:
`The online training modules will also support teachers in developing inclusive teaching, including LGBT-inclusive appr¬oaches. The Department is working with a wide range of schools, teachers and expert organisations, including Stonewall, the NSPCC and teaching unions, to develop this support…
`The Department will ensure that the central programme and materials support¬ing implementation of the new subjects are inclusive. We recognise fully the need to disseminate the good practice in teaching about LGBT relationships that is seen in large numbers of our schools. ‘ 2
The statutory guidance to which schools must have regard when teaching Rela-tionships Education and RSE allows for flexibility in the delivery of the subjects and requires consultation with parents. It states:
Schools will retain freedom to determine an age-appropriate, developmental curri¬culum which meets the needs of young people, [and] is developed in consultation with parents and the local community. 0
Ministers have repeatedly stated that while secondary schools are expected to teach LGBT content, primary schools have discretion and are `encouraged and enabled’ to teach it if they regard it as age-appropriate.’
Right of withdrawal in Wales
Meanwhile in Wales, the Welsh Govern¬ment has confirmed that parents will no longer have a right to withdraw their children from either Relationships and Sexuality Education or Religious Educa¬tion classes when the new curriculum is introduced in 2022.5 The decision has been made in spite of strong opposition to the right of withdrawal in response to two public consultations during 2019. As many as 89 per cent of respondents to the first consultation supported retaining the right of withdrawal.
The second consultation did not ask respondents whether or not they support¬ed removing the right of withdrawal. Instead it asked, `What implications would there be for learners, parents/ carers and schools if all learners were required to receive RE and/or RSE lessons in the new curriculum?’ Even so, 60 per cent of respondents answered the question negatively and a further cent expressed a mixture of positive and negative implications. Only 19 per cent were positive about the proposal. l 6
- HC, Written Question 3204, answe 22 January 2020.
- HC, Written Question 12290, anew on 10 February 2020.
- DIE, Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSI Health Education Statutory guidances governing bodies, proprietors, head teachers, principals, senior leadership teams, teachers, 2019, pars 114.
- For example, Written Questions 223 answered on 1 March 2019 and 23652( answered on 28 March 2019.
- Kirsty Williams, Minister for Educae Written Statement: Ensuring Access to Full Curriculum, 21 January 2020.
- Ensuring access to the full curricula; Consultation Analysis, January 2020.