Education Secretary seeks to reassure parents on access to sex ed material

Parents must be able to see what their children are being taught in relationships, sex and health education lessons, the Education Secretary has said.

Addressing concerns that some schools are denying access to materials from external providers on copyright grounds, Gillian Keegan told parents “you have a fundamental right to know”.

She has also written to schools in England, seeking to clarify advice given in March, stating that copyright law should not prevent schools from showing materials to parents.

Parents’ rights

In an open letter to parents, Keegan stated that they “should always be able to see the materials that are being used to teach your children”.

existing copyright agreements between schools and third-party sex groups are ‘void and unenforceable’ Gillian Keegan

Her aim in writing to schools, she explained, was to “place this right beyond any further doubt”.

She continued: “I am clear that schools must share worksheets, presentations, or other content used in lessons with parents when asked to do so.

“This is regardless of what a school’s contract with the organisation that provided the materials might say.”

Copyright dispute

Writing to schools, Keegan declared any existing copyright agreements between them and third-party groups to be “void and unenforceable”.

She advised: “If faced with such clauses, schools should write to providers asking for those clauses to be withdrawn”.

“In the event that providers refuse to withdraw the clauses, schools should still feel able to share the materials with parents in a proportionate way”.

However, she added, where such agreements did exist, parents must agree “that the content should not be copied or shared further except as authorised under copyright law”.

Schools should be clear with providers that their default position must always be that curriculum resources can be shared with parents in some way, even where the contract prohibits this. This helps ensure schools comply with existing statutory guidance to consult with parents when they are creating their RSHE policy.
Letter from Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP to schools about sharing curriculum resources
In an interview with TWR, the Institute’s Head of Education gave a cautious welcome welcomed to the announcement.

Miriam Cates

More than 70 Conservative MPs have backed a proposal from party colleague Miriam Cates that would introduce a law requiring schools to provide parents with access to all materials used in relationships and sex education lessons.

Failure to comply with the duty would entitle a parent to bring legal action.

Mrs Cates’ Relationships and Sex Education (Transparency) Bill would also prohibit schools from using unpublished third-party teaching resources in the classroom.

Private Members’ Bills rarely become law, but with widespread support from party colleagues, Mrs Cates is calling for the Bill to be included in November’s King’s Speech.

Also see:

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