Parents of primary school children will not be allowed to withdraw youngsters from Relationships Education, but Sex Education will not be compulsory, Government plans have confirmed.
Schools will decide about what is taught about LGBT issues, but must be respectful of religious views, the new 38-page draft guidance says.
Responding, The Christian Institute called for a re-instatement of the right of withdrawal across all Relationship and Sex Education.
John Denning, the Institute’s Education Officer, said: “It’s welcome that sex education will not become compulsory in primary schools and that where they do provide it, parents will still be able to withdraw their children if they wish.
We will continue to engage with the Government.
“The proposal to teach about the importance of ‘honesty, integrity, self-control, courage, humility, kindness, forgiveness, generosity and a sense of justice’ in relationships is also welcome.”
However, he noted that while the Government says schools must respect parents as the “first educators of their children”, the option of withdrawal needs to be properly available.
“That backstop is a vital protection for parents and children but is missing from this guidance. We will continue to engage with the Government to encourage them to address this.”
On sexuality issues, the guidance says schools “are free to determine how they address LGBT specific content”. But the Government “recommends that it is integral throughout the programmes of study”.
It also adds that pupils “should know that there are different types of committed, stable relationships”, which could include homosexuality, transsexualism and same-sex marriage.
Mr Denning cautioned that schools “need to avoid imposing a secular viewpoint”.
Politicians least appropriate
The Department for Education said the subjects will come into force from September 2020, but for the next 12-weeks the plans are subject to consultation.
Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, said: “I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world.”
Earlier this year, a poll found most Britons believe that parents are best placed to decide when young children learn about sex.
The ComRes research found 65 per cent thought that parents were most appropriate – with 66 per cent saying politicians were the least appropriate.