Schools minister Nick Gibb MP has defended plans to teach compulsory relationships education to primary school pupils from next year.
It follows a number of protests by some parents worried about their children being taught about same-sex relationships.
Mr Gibb tells Sky News that schools should listen to the concerns of parents but points out that consultation does not mean they have a veto on curriculum content:
I am proud that children from all backgrounds are educated in our schools.
It is a great thing that no matter the colour of your skin, your beliefs or your parents’ backgrounds, the UK is somewhere that everyone can succeed. Our schools are at the heart of this and have been for generations.
But the world today does look very different than in 2000. This was when we last made changes to relationships and sex education.
The introduction of new regulations will mean that, from 2020, relationships education will be compulsory for all primary pupils, and relationships and sex education will be compulsory for all secondary pupils.
This fundamental change to this aspect of a child’s education has now passed through parliament and presents an opportunity to equip pupils with the knowledge they need to lead happy, safe and healthy lives.
I know that not everyone feels totally comfortable about this, so let me reassure you.
We want all children to leave school prepared to take their place in a welcoming, successful and diverse country, to understand the world they are growing up in, to be able to form healthy relationships and to respect difference.
We have consulted widely on this new policy, refusing to shy away from strong opinions on all sides – engaging in constructive dialogue to find a way forward.
We support headteachers to make the right decisions for their pupils.
That is why we have given headteachers discretion over their curriculum, including how and when to teach what’s expected about LGBT relationships.
Relationships, RSE and health education changes don’t come into force until 2020 – though more than 1,000 schools nationwide have volunteered to pilot the subjects a year early – which gives schools plenty of time to start having these conversations now.
My department is working with teachers, school leaders and teaching unions to support schools in bringing in the new subjects.
Parents should share their views and concerns, and schools should listen. However, consultation does not mean parents have a veto on curriculum content.
The key lesson for children is how to live together, harmoniously and respectfully – and I hope that parents, carers and guardians can embrace this lesson too. We must model the behaviour we want from our young people.
Teachers and headteachers should not be intimidated or threatened for doing their jobs.
They are dedicated public servants doing an exemplary job and they have my full support – because they seek to serve their children, their parents and their communities.
There is no reason why teaching children about the society that we live in and the different types of loving, healthy relationships that exist cannot be done in a way that respects everyone’s views.
Schools minister Nick Gibb: ‘Why primary school children need to learn about same-sex relationships’
Schools minister Nick Gibb MP has defended plans to teach compulsory relationships education to primary school pupils from next year. It follows a number of protests by some parents worried about their children being taught about same-sex relationships.