With the government reopening schools and summer holidays now over, many children have this week returned to classes and an ounce of normality after over five long months in lockdown. (Some might say it was the longest summer holiday the children have ever had!)
But now that the children are back to school, what can we expect them to be taught? The new government regulations on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) were due to be formally introduced and made compulsory from September 2020, but thanks to the lockdown, this has now been pushed back to the summer term 2021 (one good thing to come out of lockdown). This is to allow schools to consult with parents over potential changes to the curriculum, which was not possible during the months in lockdown.
Schools have a legal obligation to tell parents about any changes they are making to the RSE curriculum when drafting the school’s new policy. The official guidance refers to this process as ‘parental engagement’, and the law makes it clear that a consultation must take place. Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, if you’re worried there is a lack of communication at your school, you can request this consultation – you can use our downloadable templates to write to engage with schools on the issue of RSE:
Write to your primary school headteacher
Write to your secondary school headteacher
So what can Christian parents and teachers who are concerned about the new RSE guidelines do? Here, we’ve collated all of our resources for parents and teachers alike, to make it easier for you to find exactly what you need.
What are the different programmes being taught?
Schools across the country will follow different programmes, such as the well-known No Outsiders programme and the All About Me programme. We break down exactly what programmes like these teach and why they’re so harmful.
However, for many schools, LGBT themes won’t only be taught in RSE or PSHE. Instead, they’ll be introduced into lessons across the board with LGBT relationships becoming normalised through teaching subjects that have nothing to do with the topic, including Art, English and Maths. 10-year-old Kaysey explains how her school was teaching LGBT throughout the day.
Many parents and teachers have complained about these themes being introduced into lessons in primary schools, including mothers Kristie Higgs and Izzy Montague. In Kristie’s case, sharing her thoughts on RSE in private cost her her job. We’re helping take Kristie’s case to court this month – please pray for justice to be done.
However, not everyone who sounds the alarm is treated like these two mothers. Over the years, the Christian Legal Centre has helped many parents, teachers, churches and schools to come to agreements over what children are taught, and many success stories go under the radar. If you’re in need of help or advice on RSE, our Christian Legal Centre is available to listen and offer support, whether you’re a school governor worried about the curriculum, a parent concerned about what your child is being taught, or a teacher wanting to create a policy that is both faithful to Christian values and the guidance.
Are there any good programmes?
Yes! There are varying Christian programmes and resources that schools can use and parents can download. Honestly, they vary in quality and largely depend on your context and what you’re after.
Lovewise’s Relationships Matter is a great resource suitable for schools to use with Key Stages 1 and 2 and is free to download. They offer web-based presentations and lesson notes that teachers can use and adapt according to their needs. Lovewise also offers a range of books targeted at older students and parents to help them understand and teach a Biblical model of family and relationships.
RSE Authentic is also able to connect schools with RSE teaching and learning resources for both primary and secondary education. RSE Authentic gives a more general overview of the helpful materials that are around and also offer free resources for teachers, which include lesson plans.
Resources for teachers
It’s easy with all the changes to the government guidelines to have lost track of what exactly they are. Roger Kiska shares the latest on what the government has announced.
Roger also breaks down what the guidelines actually say, dispelling the myth that primary schools are required to teach LGBT elements. You can also watch this helpful video, where Roger breaks it down further.
If your school has offered you training on teaching RSE, it may help to go in prepared. One former governor recorded excerpts from training given by Mermaids at a local Church of England primary school.
For teachers having to follow the guidance while still wanting to remain faithful to Christian principles, our Relationships Education planning resource can help you do just that. It’s free to download and can be copied freely for your school’s planning, with space for aspects of the school’s vision and values.
What can I do as a parent?
If you’re confused by conflicting advice from schools, the government, and varying organisations, or you’re just unsure as to all the fuss, read our ‘Five bad reasons for sex education and five things you can do about it’.
As a parent, it’s important to keep up-to-date with what your child is being taught. You can find the latest on the government guidelines from Roger Kiska. Legally, schools are required to inform parents of any changes to the curriculum, so if you’re not sure what your child is being taught, we’d encourage you to write to your child’s headteacher to find out. Roger has helpfully put together a template to assist parents in engaging with their schools.
If you want to delve deeper into what the guidelines say and what is really required of schools, you can watch Roger’s short video breakdown of the guidelines. Or for an even more in depth look, watch his Gospel Issues seminar on ‘What are they teaching the children?’
So, what can you do to protect your child and impact school communities? Watch this video with our co-founder Pastor Ade Omooba MBE on what parents can do to protect their children from harmful RSE.
Finally, if you’re looking for more practical steps you can take right now to shape what your children are being taught, here are six steps you can take to protect your child and others at the primary school.
Don’t forget to let us know what your child’s school is teaching and how you get on.
What about the homeschoolers?
For some, lockdown will have provided parents with more reasons to homeschool their children. If you’re new to homeschooling and don’t know where to start, there are also some helpful resources out there to support you as you teach your child and want to instil in them Biblical foundations that will help them grow.
You can check out our ‘Top tips for homeschooling’ and our ‘More top tips for homeschooling’.
You can also read more from Janine Bell of the homeschooling programme Classical Conversations to get more of an idea of how homeschooling can work for you.