Clarification and Empowerment
In a significant move, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has addressed all schools in England, emphasizing their ability and responsibility to share Relationships, Sex, and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum materials with parents. Keegan also penned an open letter to parents, encouraging them to assert their right to understand what their children are being taught in the classroom.
Copyright Concerns Dismissed
The letter issued by the Education Secretary clarifies that companies providing teaching resources cannot use copyright law to prohibit schools from sharing these materials with parents. Keegan asserts that any attempt to do so through contract terms would be unenforceable and void.
Unwavering Commitment to Parental Rights
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan left no room for doubt when she declared,
“No ifs, no buts, and no more excuses. This government is acting to guarantee parents’ fundamental right to know what their children are being taught in sex and relationships education.”
Keegan’s words underscore the administration’s unwavering commitment to parents’ rights in their children’s education.
Parentkind Applauds the Move
Jason Elsom, Chief Executive of Parentkind, welcomed the Department for Education’s initiative to bolster parental rights in the teaching of RSHE. Elsom emphasizes that the key to children receiving appropriate and beneficial RSHE education is full transparency with parents. He referenced recent research that reveals parents’ desire for consultation in advance and their recognition of the importance of RSHE education.
Transparency Enhances Confidence
Parentkind’s research reveals that consistently informing parents about RSHE in advance significantly increases their confidence in the curriculum and support for the content. The Education Secretary’s initiative is expected to reassure parents about RSHE content and provision in schools.
Strengthening Parental Rights
The Education Secretary initially reached out to all schools in England in March following reports of inappropriate materials being used in the RSHE curriculum. The letter back then emphasized the government’s intent to conduct a thorough review of the curriculum with the support of an independent panel.
However, it also cautioned schools against entering contractual conditions that hindered the sharing of RSHE materials.
A Categorical Position on Copyright Law
The most recent letter goes further by providing the most categorical position on the application of copyright law in this area to date. This reflects the government’s overarching strategy to empower both teachers and parents to defend their rights and ensure transparency in RSHE education.
Facilitating Parental Access
The new letter clarifies that in cases where parents cannot attend a presentation or access materials through a “parent portal,” such as a school website, schools have the flexibility to provide copies of materials to parents upon request. Parents must agree not to copy or further share the content.
A Roadmap for the Future
The Education Secretary and departmental officials are actively listening to parents and teachers as part of the comprehensive review of the RSHE curriculum.
Later this year, they will publish updated guidance for full public consultation. This marks a significant step towards ensuring that RSHE education remains transparent and accountable to parents and the broader community.