25 February 2019
Responding to plans to introduce compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools, Anna Cole, Parliamentary and Inclusion Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“We welcome the introduction of compulsory relationships and sex education in schools. In practice, most schools already teach children about these issues. Making it compulsory puts that practice on a more formal footing and supports schools with updated and more detailed guidance which will help them deliver this vital learning in the more complex, online age in which we now live.
“We are aware that there are two issues causing controversy. The first is the perception that young children will be taught about lesbian and gay relationships. In fact, there is no requirement at all to teach primary-age children about sexual relationships. The guidance for this age group simply reflects the fact that children are raised in different types of families, including families with lesbian, gay and transgender parents. It is reflective of reality and embodies the values of an inclusive and tolerant society.
“The second area of controversy is the right of 15-year-olds to opt into sex education lessons against the wishes of their parents. It is important to understand that parents retain the right to withdraw their child from sex education at earlier ages. Our view is that 15-year-olds possess the judgement that is necessary to decide this matter for themselves and that giving them access to sex education lessons is proportionate and sensible.
“We hope that objections to the guidance do not result in it being derailed because we believe it is in the best interests of children and young people.”