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Children: Philosophy and Religion

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL4788, tabled on 20 May 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether schools have a duty to respect the wishes of parents who want to raise their children in accordance with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

Answered on

4 June 2020

We are making Relationships Education compulsory for primary school-aged pupils, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory for secondary school-aged pupils and Health Education compulsory for pupils in all state-funded schools, from September 2020.

These subjects are designed to give pupils the knowledge they need to lead happy, safe and healthy lives and to foster respect for other people and for difference. Through these subjects, children will be taught about the importance of respectful relationships and the different types of relationships that exist. This can be done in a way that respects everyone’s views.

The statutory guidance states that all pupils should receive teaching on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships during their school years, and that secondary schools should include LGBT content in their teaching. Primary schools are encouraged and enabled, when teaching about different types of family, to include families with same sex parents.

In all schools, the religious background of all pupils must be taken into account when planning teaching, so that topics included in the statutory guidance are handled appropriately. Schools must ensure they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010. The statutory guidance is attached and can be accessed via the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/805781/Relationships_Education__Relationships_and_Sex_Education__RSE__and_Health_Education.pdf.

Schools are also required to consult with parents when developing and reviewing their policies for Relationships Education (primary) and RSE (secondary), which will inform schools’ decisions on when and how certain content is covered. Schools should ensure that parents know what will be taught and when, and clearly communicate the fact that parents have the right to request that their child be withdrawn from some or all of sex education delivered as part of statutory RSE.