Parents should know what sex education their child is taught, says Gillian Ke…

Parents must be informed by schools about the content of their child’s sex education syllabus, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said.

Companies providing teaching resources cannot use copyright law to forbid schools from sharing materials, an open letter from the minister to parents has warned.

It added that any attempt to do this through contract terms would be “unenforceable and void”.

Ms Keegan said: “No ifs, no buts and no more excuses. This government is acting to guarantee parents’ fundamental right to know what their children are being taught in sex and relationships education.

“Today I’m writing to schools and parents to debunk the copyright myth that parents cannot see what their children are being taught.

“Parents must be empowered to ask and schools should have the confidence to share.”

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If parents cannot attend a presentation or they are unable to view materials via a “parent portal” online, schools may provide copies of the subject matter to parents to take home on request.

Schools are still waiting for updated relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) guidance, which the Government has said will go out “for full public consultation later this year”.

Jason Elsom, chief executive of charity Parentkind, welcomed the Department for Education’s (DfE) move to strengthen parental rights in the teaching of RSHE.

He said: “The key to children receiving appropriate and beneficial RSHE teaching is full transparency with parents.

“When we polled parents on RSHE earlier this year, a clear picture emerged. Parents wanted to be consulted by schools in advance and agreed that the teaching of the subject was important.

“Our research clearly demonstrates that when parents are consistently informed about RSHE in advance, they are significantly likelier to have confidence in the curriculum and be supportive of the content.

“This move should help to reassure parents about the content and provision of RSHE.”

The latest update comes after a review into RSHE was announced in March following concerns that children are being exposed to “inappropriate” content.

The DfE is currently leading the review, which is also being informed by an independent panel to provide “external expertise”.

The review is considering how to make sure all RSHE teaching is factual and does not present contested views on sensitive topics as fact.

Ministers have previously suggested the panel would advise on “clear safeguards to stop pupils from being taught contested and potentially damaging concepts”, including bringing in age ratings setting out what is appropriate to be taught at what age.

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The DfE has yet to publish guidance about supporting transgender pupils in schools which would ensure that pupils are treated with consistency and fairness.

Guidance for helping schools support children – which would be non-statutory advice – has been subject to lengthy delays, including reports of legal conflicts with the Equality Act and wrangling between ministers and departments.

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