We welcome the release of new guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) relating to the teaching of Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in schools. We are pleased to see they have taken our concerns and those of our supporters on board and are beginning to address them. This guidance is largely in line with our Safe Schools Alliance resources.
Putting safeguarding first
This guidance stresses the importance of consulting with parents. It is in the best interests of children when schools and parents work together: schools must provide transparency about what is being taught and how. Safeguarding children is the responsibility of every adult in the community. We are encouraged to see the importance of safeguarding clearly spelt out in this guidance. This includes explicit acknowledgment that Relationship and Sex Education will trigger disclosures, and that adults in schools should NEVER promise confidentiality or promise to keep secrets.
We welcome the advice on outside agencies and visitors. Schools must do due diligence with all outside agencies, their staff and their RSE materials. This is important even if they believe them to be reputable due to perceived endorsements from government.
The guidance now contains directives that we find reassuring, for example: ‘You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear’.
The guidance also states that ‘teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing, teachers should always seek to treat individual students with sympathy and support.’
This is a vindication of years of campaigning from Transgender Trend and many others in the face of libel and abuse from Pink News, Stonewall and many others. Our members have also put in many hours of unpaid work to challenge the DfE and individual schools and councils on their RSE and PSHE guidance.
We would like to thank each and every one of our supporters, who have shared our materials, talked to friends and written to their schools and MPs. Please continue to do so. There is much regulatory capture still to be undone. We will now be pushing for organisations that promote unsafe Relationship and Sex Education guidance to be removed from schools and will be providing resources to help with this as soon as we can.
Thank you again from all of us at Safe Schools Alliance UK!