Family & Education

LGBT not compulsory for primary schools, minister says

Lord Polak says Ofsted not respecting government guidance


The minister responsible for faith schools has given assurances that primary schools will not be compelled to discuss LGBT issues when the new relationships and sex education curriculum comes into force in September.

Baroness Berridge responded to a question on the subject in the Lords earlier this week from Conservative Jewish peer Lord Polak.

While Department for Education guidance made it clear that teaching explicitly about LGBT matters was not mandatory in primary schools, Lord Polak said, this was not being reflected in Ofsted practice.

“Numerous primary schools have been downgraded in at least one category for not teaching LGBT,” he said.

Primary schools are “strongly encouraged” to include families with same-sex parents when they tell children about different types of family.  But Baroness Berridge explained, “that is clearly a move from mandatory to permissive language”.

Ofsted has been accused by Jewish organisations of going beyond its remit in the past year by criticising Charedi primary schools for excluding LGBT issues.

Apart from the new RSE policy, new government guidelines on equality for independent schools issued last year said they could decide when certain topics were “age appropriate”.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman, questioned by MPs at the educational select committee last month on whether it had departed from DfE guidance, said, “To my knowledge, we haven’t.”

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