Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman has appeared to reject the idea of parental opt-outs – despite them having operated for decades.
She was speaking in the wake of protests about LGBT issues being promoted in primary schools, and a Conservative leadership contender saying parents know their children best.
Spielman claimed the freedom for parents to remove their children from lessons covering sex could lead to young people being taken out of science classes.
Currently, parents have an opt-out right up to the age of 18. Under the new Relationships and Sex Education subject, this will be lowered to 15.
Sex education is not compulsory in primary schools. However, once Relationships Education is introduced from September 2020, young children will be taught about a variety of relationships, which could include homosexuality, transsexualism and same-sex marriage. There will be no automatic right to opt-out.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Spielman highlighted Ofsted’s focus on children being “prepared for life in modern Britain”, claiming the national curriculum was at risk because of the parental right of withdrawal.
“Where would it end?”, Spielman asked, raising the spectre of parents opting their children out of biology and geography.
“At the point you start saying every parent can choose which topics, we have completely lost sight of a national curriculum, of a national education system that prepares all children in this country.”
She also said her “eyebrows went up a very long way” when she heard Esther McVey backing parents’ decisions on education.
Responding for The Christian Institute, Education Officer John Denning said: “Parents’ freedom to withdraw their children from sex education and religious education is well established.
“It hasn’t caused the sort of problems Amanda Spielman is laying out here, and it’s disappointing to see her being so scornful of this right.
“Parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children and this freedom is an important safety net to protect children from radical teaching.”