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Relationships education in primary schools: new guidance on engaging parents with your policy

Parental engagement - image of coloured pencils with speech bubbles

From September 2020, relationships education will be compulsory for primary schools. Schools will be required to have a policy, published on their website, setting out how they intend to approach the subject and the statutory guidance says that schools must consult parents in developing and reviewing their policy. 

But what does 'consult' mean? For schools, consultation is about them providing formal channels through which parents can express their views about certain aspects of the school's work. In schools, consultation is more commonly thought of as parental engagement. 

NAHT has worked closely with the Department for Education to develop new guidance, Parental Engagement on Relationships Education, which provides information on engaging parents on this subject. The guidance has advice, tips and case studies on how to carry out effective parental engagement including where to go for help and the role governors and trustees can play in the engagement process.

The guidance covers the following:

  • what must schools engage parents on
  • why schools are required to engage parents
  • what do we mean by engagement on relationships education
  • use of existing methods and case studies
  • tips for parental engagement
  • sensitivities
  • where to go for help
  • the role of governors and trustees.

Importantly, the guidance states that schools should be clear with parents, from the outset and throughout, that while their views are welcome and will be genuinely reflected on, they do not amount to a veto over curriculum content. Different parents are likely to have conflicting views and the school needs to consider other factors, alongside parent views, in making their decision. Ultimately it is for schools to decide their curriculum, having taken these views on board.

First published 11 October 2019