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Parents have right to see sex education material, says minister

Marriage and Family
26 October 2023
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The Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has written to English schools that they must respect parents' legal right to view the sex education material which is being taught.

It comes as the government is set to launch a consultation on the Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum.

Under current law, primary school pupils must be taught about the key building blocks of a healthy relationship.

Pupils at secondary schools need to be taught 'facts and the law about sex, sexuality, sexual health and gender identity in an age-appropriate and inclusive way.'

Until the law was changed, parents had a legal right to withdraw their children from sex education. But this right has been watered down to a right to request withdrawal from sex education in secondary schools, with the decision made by the headteacher.

Schools are allowed to invite external agencies in to teach these subjects. Such teaching, according to the official guidance 'should enhance and not replace' staff teaching.

The letter comes after parent Clare Page brught a case against the Information Commissioner's Office and School of Sexuality Educartion which had delivered a lesson at her daughter's schools. Her request for inforation was rejected by the school. She then took the school to court.

The First-Tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights) ruled that a school need not disclose the content of a sex education lesson or identify who delivered it.

But, in a direct contradiction of this ruling, in her letter, Ms Keegan said:

I want to debunk the copyright myth that parents cannot see what their children are being taught.
Gillian Keegan Education Secretary

In response to the letter, Tanya Carter of the Safe Schools Alliance said it was 'too little, too late.'

Read CARE's detailed guide to the teaching of sex education in primary and secondary schools.

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