Sex education in schools

Many parents are concerned about the sex and relationships education their children are receiving at school. We are happy to discuss parental concerns and give advice.

Lovewise produces material for use in schools on the subjects of marriage, sex and relationships. Our resources can either be purchased and used by a teacher or given by a visiting Lovewise presenter.

Information about sex education in schools

Section 403 of the Education Act 1996 states that pupils should “learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life”. Is this being taught in your child’s school?

Parents have a right to see any sex education material which will be shown to their children and to know when this teaching will take place.

Schools should work in partnership with parents, giving parents the information they need for meaningful consultation.

Many children would prefer to learn about relationships and sex from their parents, rather than in school. 

Secondary Schools - Sex and relationships education in secondary schools is not part of the National Curriculum and parents have the right to withdraw their children if they wish to do so. 

Primary Schools - It is not compulsory for primary schools to teach sex and relationships education. Whether the subject is taught is at the discretion of the headteacher and governors. If the subject is taught, parents have the right to withdraw their children.

Teaching following the legal redefinition of marriage

Since the legal change to the definition of marriage, many teachers have been uncertain what they are allowed to teach on the subject of marriage. Recent guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides helpful clarification that the traditional, biblical nature of marriage can continue to be taught schools.

Here are a few quotes from the EHRC guidance:

“Maintained secondary schools have a legal requirement to teach about the ‘nature of marriage’” and in so doing they “must accurately state the facts about marriage of same sex couples”. However, “no school, or individual teacher, is under a duty to support, promote or endorse marriage of same sex couples.”

“Teachers, other school staff, governors, parents and pupils are all free to hold whatever personal views they choose on marriage of same sex couples, including a view that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. The Government recognises that the belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society.” 

“Schools with a religious character can continue to deliver sex and relationship education in accordance with their particular religious doctrines or ethos. They must do so in a sensitive, reasonable, respectful and balanced way.”

Helpful publications

For more information on these issues you may find the following publications useful:

Too much too young: exposing primary school sex education
A look at the explicit nature of some commonly used primary sex education materials.
Download from The Christian Institute

Sex education in primary school: Dispelling the myths
Help for parents of primary school children by dispelling common myths about sex and relationships education. 
Download from Family Education Trust

Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) for today's primary school children
Advice and support for headteachers, teachers, governors and parents.
Download from Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

Respecting beliefs about Marriage
A guide about the requirements and responsibilities of schools in the state sector in teaching about marriage.
Download from Coalition for Marriage