Schools with pupils of all ages must provide compulsory ‘relationships’ lessons from September 2020, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced.
In the past many schools have been allowed to decide for themselves, in consultation with parents, whether to cover the subject.
But now all schools, including private schools, will be forced to deliver Relationships Education and secondary schools must run Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).
Schools have been told that pupils should receive ‘appropriate’ teaching about gay and transgender issues, and that LGBT relationships must be ‘respected’
This will be mandatory in secondary schools, although primary schools will be free to choose whether they cover LGBT issues.
Parents will be able to ‘request’ their child is withdrawn from the sex aspects of RSE up to the age of 15; the current age limit is 18.
But the final decision will rest with the headteacher, and teachers will be expected to discuss the so-called ‘detriments’ of withdrawal.Linda Rose, from the Parent Power advice website, says she is not convinced by promises that teaching will be age appropriate.
She told the BBC, ‘Children are given too much information too young and don’t have the emotional maturity to process all this information.
‘We are worried that this isn’t upholding religion as a protected characteristic with equal value to the other protected characteristics.’
Speaking in the House of Commons, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said £6m would be made available in 2019/20 to cover training and resources.
Mr Hinds said: ‘Growing up and adolescence are hard enough, but the internet and social media add new pressures that just weren’t there even one generation ago.
‘Almost 20 years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on.’
A petition attracting support from over 112,000 people states, ‘We believe it is the parent’s fundamental right to teach their child RSE topics or to at least decide who teaches them and when and how they are taught.
Mike Judge, editor