Parents matter when it comes to implementing Relationships Education
Most UK schools started back this week, with all the excitement, anticipation and uncertainty that it brings.
Something many parents have expressed concern about are plans for Relationships Education. This new subject will be compulsory in all English primary schools (state and fee paying) from September 2020. Unlike sex education, there will be no automatic right of withdrawal.
This will mean teaching children as young as four or five about ‘different types of relationships’. This could well include homosexuality, same-sex marriage and transgenderism.
It’s a major policy change, and not a good one. However, there has been some positive news over the summer in the form of a guide for parents – issued by the Department for Education (DfE) – which emphasises the requirement on schools to consult parents about the content of the lessons.
It says: “Your child’s school is required to consult with you when developing and renewing their policies on Relationships Education.”
This means that your views can help your child’s school decide how it covers the subject.
Christian parents have an opportunity to engage with schools and restrain the influence of those who want to use this as a means of indoctrinating children in LGBT ideology.
Your child’s school is required to consult with you when developing and renewing their policies on Relationships Education.
The guide says that Relationships Education will put in place the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships, including with family, friends and online.
Children will be taught “what a relationship is, what friendship is, what family means”. Stressing this should be done in “an age-appropriate way”.
Schools are also required to provide education which is appropriate to the religious background of all pupils, and all schools are free to teach about faith perspectives.
Obviously a key question is over what teaching is “age-appropriate”. Parents’ input could be invaluable in helping schools decide upon both the age appropriateness of their lessons, and their appropriateness to pupils’ religious backgrounds. Statutory guidance on Relationships Education encourages schools to develop positive relationships with local faith communities.
The DfE has also produced an FAQs section to explain ‘common misconceptions’.
It is vital that parents are on the lookout for the Relationships Education banner being used as cover for sex education.
For instance, it states: “We are not introducing compulsory sex education at primary school”.
This is something to watch. The Government has been clear that Relationships Education is not sex education. It is vital that parents are on the lookout for the Relationships Education banner being used as cover for sex education.
No matter what label the school is using, if parents consider it to be sex education then they should make this clear and argue that the right to withdraw applies. However there is no right to withdraw children from basic teaching on reproduction in the science curriculum.
The FAQs are also clear that Relationships Education is not supposed to promote LGBT relationships. In fact, there is no specific requirement for LGBT content to be covered at all in primary schools.
Overall we can be thankful for the helpful comments in these documents. Parents can feel empowered to respond effectively to schools’ consultations about Relationships Education.
For more information or further advice about how best to engage with your child’s school, contact John Denning at The Christian Institute.