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Policy update: The Equality Act and Relationships Education in primary schools

​Primary school leaders in some areas of the country have been the targets of campaigning, protests and abuse relating to their commitment to equality and diversity.  LGBT+ inclusion has been the focus of these protests.

Protesters have argued that this learning should not happen in primary schools and that parents should be able to withdraw their children from it. But the parental right to withdraw is from sex education only. The learning that has been taking place relating to equality and diversity in affected schools has not been part of a sex education curriculum.

This policy update explains the current position on the following questions related to the Equality Act and Relationships Education in primary schools:

  • What are schools' responsibilities under the Equality Act?
  • How does schools' responsibility to promote SMSC and British Values support this learning?
  • Can parents withdraw their children from this learning?
  • How is Relationships Education different?
  • Can parents withdraw their children from Relationships Education?
  • Will the new Relationships Education be LGBT+ inclusive?
  • So how can primary schools decide what content is age-appropriate?
  • What role do parents play in these decisions about the curriculum content of relationships education?
  • What about sex education in primary schools?


NAHT is continuing to work with the Department for Education to provide more support for schools both on the application of the Equality Act in schools and on the implementation of Relationships and Health Education in primary schools.

The government has published the final statutory guidance on relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education. For ease of access, separate sections of the full statutory guidance are available outlining the statutory guidance for relationships education (Primary) and for physical health and mental wellbeing (Primary and Secondary)

Policy update: The Equality Act and Relationships Education in primary schools (July 2019)


First published 07 June 2019