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CARE poll shows almost half of parents are concerned over sex education in schools

by Donna Birrell

Almost half of parents in England (46 per cent) are concerned about what their children are being taught in relationships and sex education (RSE), according to a survey for the Christian social policy charity CARE.

It comes as the UK Government begins consulting on new statutory guidance on the subject for schools in England.

The poll of 1,001 parents in England who have children who are in primary or secondary school, found that 44 per cent of parents who have asked to view RSE materials taught to their children have had those requests denied.  52 per cent of parents surveyed said they weren’t sure that their child would be free from judgement if/when expressing a view in the RSE classroom contrary to what is being taught and 36 per cent said they had never been consulted on the content of their child’s RSE curriculum. 

Four in ten parents said they hadn't been consulted on the content of lessons, despite this being a legal requirement. The same number also said they were aware that their child’s school uses third-party organisations to deliver part of their child’s school’s RSE curriculum.

Jack Lawther, Policy Officer at CARE, said:

“One of the greatest predictors of life-long wellbeing is a happy childhood. Yet reports of contested and inappropriate content in RSE lessons have become common. We welcome the publication of new guidance, which rightly seeks to protect children from age-inappropriate content, and controversial concepts.

“Our polling, coupled with separate reports, demonstrates that many parents are in the dark about what’s being taught, and concerned about what their children might be being exposed to. It also suggests that more than three million children are receiving teaching on sex and relationships from unregulated, third-party organisations.

“As the Government consults on its new guidance and considers its next steps, we’d call on Ministers to ensure that schools are complying with existing statutory duties, respecting parents’ role as the primary educators of their children and championing an environment where children and young people can share their views.”

The draft government guidance which was published last week says that schools in England should not teach under-nines about sex, or discuss gender identity. It will now be subject to a nine week consultation.

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