Managing the parental right to withdrawal from Sex Education

Infant and primary schools

There is no right for parents to excuse their child from Relationships, Health Education or Science. As Sex Education is not taught at KS1, infant schools have no need to consider the right for withdrawal for their pupils.

In KS2 puberty and changing bodies are taught in Health Education and Science. Parents have no right to withdraw from this. It is not compulsory for Primary Schools to include Sex Education. Where it is included, parents do have the right to excuse their pupils from these lessons.

This should be seen in the framework of a good parent consultation process, where parents can raise their concerns and have fears allayed (see Planning for a parents-carers meeting in a Church of England school prior to teaching RSHE).

Having fully consulted parents (the process does not offer parental veto on curriculum content) the school’s policy will be available freely online. Parents have a right to request to withdraw their child from any sex education lessons. The school may have an agreed process for managing the right to withdraw from sex education.

1. An application must be received in writing to the Headteacher. It must be a uniquely composed letter and not a photocopy or printout.

2. The Headteacher will ascertain whether or not the parents/ guardians wishing to withdraw their children were present at the consultation meetings, and if not a brief explanation about the purpose and content of RSHE in the school will be offered.

3. The headteacher will listen to the particular reasons the parents give, and may try to re-articulate the educational reasons for sex education.

4. The parents/ guardians have the statutory right to withdraw their child from Sex Education if they so wish and must not be prevented from doing this. The school will have to make alternative arrangements for any pupil who is withdrawn from Sex Education.

Secondary Schools

The process for the right to withdraw is the same in secondary schools as it is in Primary Schools with one exception. Withdrawing a child from sex education remains a statutory right as a parent or legal guardian up until three terms before the child turns 16. After that point, if the child wishes to receive sex education rather than be withdrawn, the school should make arrangements to provide the child with sex education during one of those terms.