On Friday, 31 March, the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, wrote to headteachers in what Muslim parents have welcomed as a much-needed intervention in the ongoing RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) debate. 
The Education Secretary noted in the letter,
“I have become aware of an increasing number of cases where parents have had concerns about the materials used to teach their children.
“Some have been prevented from viewing those curriculum materials because their children’s schools believed they were unable to do so for commercial reasons.
“The Department is clear that parents should be able to view all curriculum materials.”
Step in the right direction
The letter to school leaders has addressed a concern that’s been raised since RSE became statutory.
Whilst the statutory guidance requires that schools be transparent in showing parents the resources they use, schools have refused in a number of instances due to copyright agreements with commercial companies providing resources.
One such company, Jigsaw PSHE, which is one of the top five companies selling resources to schools, forces schools to sign strict agreements which prohibit them from sharing resources with parents. As a result, when parents approach schools to see the resources, they are told it can’t be shared.
What changes as a result of this clarification?
Schools will have to be more open with parents about the resources they use and more open to requests by parents to view all the resources.
But this change only matters if parents are proactive in asking schools to view all the resources taught within Relationships and Health Education (RHE) in primary schools and Relationships, Sex, and Health Education (RSHE) in secondary schools.
Although parents do not have a veto on resources – in other words, they do not have the legal right to force a school to not use a particular resource – they are able to challenge inappropriate materials or materials which go beyond the statutory requirements.
How can I do my part?
If you want to approach your school and review the RSE materials they use for your child’s education, consider writing a letter and explaining that you be provided with this, as it is your right to do so. Feel free to share your letter with others in the community, and consider asking them to also do the same.
And check out the template below, which you can use when writing the letter to your school. The downloadable resource can diagrammatically capture the information you are seeking from them.
With such collective action, we will hopefully be able to fight back against many schools that continue to try and prevent parents from reviewing the potentially harmful content being forced upon our children.
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