Parents: Getting RSE right for your child

Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools will be compulsory from September 2020.

It is vital that you know what your child will be taught and to check it aligns with your own beliefs and values, whether faith-based or not.

Your rights

  • Schools are obliged to inform you of their plans for teaching RSE including providing samples of schemes of work and resources
  • You have a legal right to be informed about what is being taught
  • Parents must be involved in the process

Ask your school for details

Download a template letter that you can email to your child’s school, asking to see the materials YOUR child will be using for RSE

What you need to know

The Law states that pupils must learn about:

  • safety in forming and maintaining relationships,
  • the characteristics of healthy relationships, and
  • how relationships may affect physical and mental health and well-being.

The education must be appropriate, having regard to the age and religious background of the pupils.

The Department for Education (DfE) has published Statutory Guidance recommending what should be studied within RSE.

Download the DfE Guidelines

The DfE’s Guidance clearly states that the teaching of RSE must be done in an age appropriate and developmentally appropriate way and must have regard for the religious background of the pupils and their families.

Therefore, schools can select what they teach from the DfE Guidance and justify their selection regarding age and faith.

There is no requirement to teach sex education in primary school.

Parents can opt out of sex education in secondary school for their child up to 3 terms before the pupil is 16 years of age.

So, before you make your enquiries:

✓ Make sure you know what is law and what is a choice.

✓ Remember that schools must take into account the background of your child when teaching RSE.

Key points

  • UK law upholds the right of parents to guide the education of their children as fundamental and protected
  • This is particularly true of educational content which has a moral character; schools should not undermine the manner in which parents seek to bring up their children
  • Schools should respect the manner in which you seek to raise your children in accordance with your own religious or philosophical convictions

Questions to ask your school

As a parent, you must find out:

This may influence the school you choose for your child



Safeguarding concerns have been raised about a number of RSE resources being used in schools this year.

Local authorities have withdrawn some RSE resources due to possible legal action.

For a list of resources to watch out for, visit RSE Review:

Parental feedback

See one parent’s feedback on RSE, giving examples of how religious perspectives can be accommodated within the DfE’s Statutory Guidance.

Next steps


Ask your school what they're teaching in RSE lessons. Download a template letter for emailing to the school here.


Do the ethos, lessons and teaching materials match your values for relationships and sexuality?


If you're not happy with what the school is teaching, you can do a number of things ... see below

Finally, some important points

  1. There is no obligation for any school to “teach” the Equality Act 2010.
  2. Nick Gibb, Minister for School Standards explained during the Parliamentary Question Period on 25 June 2019, that primary schools are not required to teach LGBT elements.1
  3. It is up to the discretion of the school as to whether they teach about same-sex parents: they are only obliged, under the Public Sector Equality Duty, to do so if/when there is a same-sex family in a particular class and then the duty only stretches to that class, not the entire school. This also applies to pupils, parents and teachers in the school.


Most frequent questions and answers

Teaching about relationships will vary from school to school. Some teaching may conflict with parents’ own beliefs. Parents need to make sure they know what the school is intending to teach their child and be prepared when necessary to speak up or take action if they are concerned.

It is every parent’s right to educate their child in the way they believe is best, which is a right enshrined in British law. However, many feel this right is being eroded in the name of promoting a sexual ideology that is at odds with their ethos and which they do not believe is healthy, or even safe, for their child. Find out more about your legal rights.

Parental objections to a school’s Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum rarely have anything to do with bigotry or intolerance but are out of genuine concern for the safety of the children.

RSE Get It Right! reflects the concerns of many parents, teachers and professionals.

RSE Get It Right! was set up to speak on behalf of children, and to ensure they receive teaching that protects their long-term health and wellbeing. For example, the risks associated with some homosexual behaviours are significantly higher than those of heterosexual behaviours. Therefore, by promoting them as equal and not fully explaining these risks, schools are potentially putting children’s long-term physical and mental health at risk.

The highly emotive nature of this topic has created a strained environment for reasoned discussion. However, the best interests of our nation’s children must come before differences of opinion or political leanings.

See notes above on discretion of schools.

In April 2020, MP Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, mandated that the UK government will protect children from being started on life-changing treatments before they are old enough to consent (the age of 18), indicating the government’s safeguarding concerns over children being encouraged on to gender-reassignment pathways.

Therefore whilst gender bias and discrimination is a topic for discussion, there is no place in schools to teach about gender identity as part of the school curriculum.

Of course, if a child is identified as gender dysphoric he/she must receive the best pastoral care in school that is available.

Download the full document

Retaining Values in RSE: A Guide for Parents