• Relationships and Sex Education (RSE)

    15 May 2019

    Dear Constituent,

    Thank you for contacting me about the vote to approve the regulations for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education.

    While I appreciate your concerns, I voted to approve the regulations. I am reassured that the content of the regulations has been developed through extensive consultation with parents, teachers, children and other groups.

    These subjects are designed to enable pupils, in an age appropriate way, to gain the knowledge they will need to stay safe, build their confidence and resilience, and develop healthy and supportive relationships.

    I want to assure you that in all schools, when Relationships Education and Relationships & Sex Education (RSE) is taught, the religious background of all pupils must be taken into account when planning teaching, so that the topics that are included in the core content are appropriately handled. Indeed, all schools may teach about faith perspectives. In particular, schools with a religious character can build on the core content by reflecting their beliefs in their teaching. For example, the school may wish to reflect on faith teachings about certain topics relating to relationships as well as how their faith institutions may support people in matters of relationships and sex.

    These subjects are designed to foster respect for others and for difference, and to educate pupils about healthy relationships and I believe that RSE should meet the needs of all pupils.

    Parental Right to Withdraw from Sex Education – The reason why the right to withdraw as it currently stands could not be retained is that an absolute parental right up to 18 years old is no longer compatible with English case law or the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the ability for parents to request that their child be withdrawn from sex education has been retained. Parents will have a right to request that their child be withdrawn from sex education delivered as part of RSE until three terms before the child becomes 16-years-old. At that point, if the child wishes to be taught sex education, the headteacher should ensure they receive it in one of those terms. These parental requests should – unless there are exceptional circumstances – be respected. Where a primary school chooses to teach sex education, parents will have a right to request that their child be withdrawn, and this must be granted by the headteacher.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mel Stride MP

    MP for Central Devon

    Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General