Last month, the government published the final statutory guidance on relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education. The new curriculum will be mandatory from September 2020. Schools already have an existing duty under the Equality Act to teach primary children about different kinds of people and families.
In a few instances, school leaders have encountered confusion and resistance from parents about what exactly is being taught. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which has been supporting those school leaders under protest, said: "The Secretary of State has already strongly encouraged every primary school to continue what they are already doing – to teach about relationships in an inclusive way. But the protests outside schools need to end, and the best way to achieve that is for the government to be absolutely clear about what will be taught in schools and when and how. At present, DfE guidance says that ‘primary schools are enabled and encouraged to cover LGBT content if they consider it age appropriate to do so’. We’d like the ‘if’ changed to ‘when’.”
“NAHT will continue to work alongside the schools where there have been protests, to help everyone involved restore a peaceful and productive teaching and learning environment. Dedicated public servants faithfully discharging their duty have an absolute right to feel confident and safe, and pupils should never have to experience noisy and aggressive protests at school.”
In an episode of Panorama which aired this week, NAHT national secretary, Rob Kelsall spoke about the impact parent protests are having in affected schools and called on the government to clarify the regulations. Watch the episode in full here.
In an article for Politics Home, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, David Isaac also spoke out publicly about the need to make sure schools are “a safe space for children to learn and grow.” And that, “no child should be made to think that who they are, or the makeup of their family, is something to be ashamed of.”
You can also find out more information on what NAHT has been doing nationally and locally in the video below.
First published 16 July 2019
First published 31 March 2021