Plan to ban s.e.x education for children under nine

Schools in England will be banned from teaching s.e.x education to children under nine, in new government guidance expected to be published on Thursday. The BBC has not seen the new guidelines but a government source said they also included plans to ban any children being taught about gender identity.

Head teachers have said there is no evidence of a widespread problem with age-inappropriate materials. One union has said the review is “politically motivated”.

The statutory guidance on relationships, s.e.x and health education (RSHE) – which schools must follow by law – is currently under review.The government believes that clearer guidance will provide support for teachers and reassurance for parents, and will set out which topics should be taught to pupils at what age.

What are children learning in sex education?
But the head of the Suffolk Primary Headteachers’ Association said the government’s proposals would not make “that much difference”.

Rebecca Leek, who is also interim head teacher at a primary school north of Ipswich, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that sex education typically is not taught in primary schools until Year 6, and “parents already have a right to withdraw” their child if they wish.

“Schools are already obliged to provide reasonably precise information to parents as to what the content will be for sex education,” she said.Relationships education has been compulsory for primary schools since September 2020.

Children are taught about healthy, respectful relationships, focusing on family and friendships – including online and social media. They also learn about physical health, parts of the body, boundaries and puberty.

The government strongly encourages schools to include teaching about different types of family and same-sex relationships.

At secondary school, relationships, s.e.x and health education is mandatory – and covers content on a wider range of key topics.

It includes sex, sexual relationships, consent, online abuse, domestic abuse and female genital mutilation (FGM). In some cases, parents have a right to remove their child from some sex education lessons, but not from relationships education.

Pepe Di’Iasio, head teacher at a school in Rotherham and general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Today that he believes pupils are being used “as a political football”.

Teachers “want well-informed and evidence-based decisions”, he said, and not “politicised” guidance.

“All head teachers have to assess their curriculum and move their curriculum in order to cope with whatever might be the issue of the day.

“Whilst we welcome a chance to look at this, we also need the flexibility to respond to whatever those particular needs are,” he said.

In a separate interview with BBC News, Mr Di’Iasio added: “Ten years ago, there was no need to teach about sexually explicit images being shared on social media. And three years ago that might have been delivered at age 14, or 15. And now, we’re having to deliver that at age 11 or 12.”

The National Association of Head Teachers has previously argued the review is “politically motivated”, saying there is no evidence to suggest a widespread problem with pupils being presented with age-inappropriate materials.

Parents ‘have right to see s.e.x education plans’
What does trans mean and what is the Cass review?

There were protests across England in 2019 opposing teaching about LGBT equality.

Under current guidance, it is down to primary schools to decide whether they need to cover any aspect of sex education to meet the needs of their pupils.

Last year, more than 50 Conservative MPs wrote to the prime minister claiming children were being exposed to “inappropriate content” and “radical and unevidenced ideologies about sex and gender”.

In response, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak brought forward a review of the RSHE guidance. A review was already due before the end of 2023.

The government source told the BBC that the forthcoming guidance would say that teachers will be required to be clear that “gender ideology” is contested, if asked about it.

Separate guidance published last year stated teachers should inform parents if their child wished to change their gender identity at school.

In Northern Ireland, relationships and sexuality education (RSE) is mandatory for all pupils. Schools can develop their own policies.

RSE has been mandatory in Welsh schools since 2022. Guidance to schools sets out which “developmentally-appropriate” topics should be covered from age three to 16.

In Scotland, the government is in the process of finalising updated guidance, after a public consultation in 2023. Parents ‘have right to see sex education

Source: BBC

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