New DfE guidance requires schools to engage with parents on Relationships and Sex Education policy

25 September 2020
Parentkind welcomes newly-published guidance from the Department for Education that formalises the need for schools in England to consult with parents over the teaching of Relationships and Sex Education.

As you may know, Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) in England is changing, having recently been updated to meet the growing requirements to keep children safe and informed in the digital age. Schools are asked to start teaching the new curriculum content from no later than the start of summer term 2021 (introducing some leeway owing to the disruption the coronavirus pandemic has caused to schools planning the delivery of new teaching content).

What does the new guidance say on parents’ rights?

The new statutory guidance states:

When planning your curriculum, you must engage parents and carers about your relationships and sex education curriculum. It is important that you set out your approach to the subjects fully and clearly… Although aimed at primary schools, much of this guide is applicable to secondary schools… When planning their curriculum, state-funded schools should be mindful of the requirement under the Human Rights Act 1998 to respect the right of parents to ensure education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions, and all schools should be mindful of their duties under the Equality Act 2010.”

In guidance for schools on Creating a policy for the new curriculum, it says: All schools must have a written policy in place for the new relationships education and relationships and sex education curriculum… You will need to decide the outline of your curriculum and consult with parents and carers on the policy before finalising it.” The guidance Plan your relationships, sex and health curriculum also sets out parents’ rights of withdrawal, which covers Sex Education, but does not cover Relationships Education or Health Education.

Parentkind’s Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools

For schools wanting to revisit their parental engagement strategy as they develop their RSHE curricula, Parentkind’s Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools will help. Five key drivers reinforced by three core principles and a shared common language form our parental participation framework. These are the foundations for school leaders to establish or improve existing strategies and successfully reach out to their parent communities. The adaptable parental participation framework will help not only with consulting parents on RSHE, but enable school leaders to maximise parents’ interest in their children’s learning and create strong home/​school partnerships built on trust.

More information

See government guidance on: