'No ifs, no buts': Gillian Keegan says parents must be told what is taught in sex education

The changes have perplexed teachers but the education secretary has insisted it's what parents want, ITV News Correspondent Harry Horton

Schools in England should inform parents what pupils are learning in sex education, the Education Secretary has stressed.

Gillian Keegan has written to schools to make it clear they should provide parents with access to sex and relationships curriculum materials.

She said she wants to “debunk the copyright myth that parents cannot see what their children are being taught”.

Ms Keegan has also written an open letter to parents, telling them they have the right to know what their children are seeing and being taught in the classroom.

Schools are still awaiting updated RSHE guidance, which the government has said will go out “for full public consultation later this year”.

Separately, schools are also still awaiting guidance on transgender pupils, for which no publication date has been given.

Treasury minister Victoria Atkins was unable to tell ITV News when the guidance would be published, saying the government wanted to take its time to get it right.

She said: This is an incredibly difficult and complex topic, we want to be both caring and careful in the way that we handle this."

"We're taking our time to get this guidance right," she added, "just bear with us, appreciate everybody is keen to have the guidance but it really is important we get it right."

A review into Relationships, Sex, Health and Education (RSHE) was announced in March following concerns that children are being exposed to “inappropriate” content.

The Department for Education (DfE) is currently leading the review, which is also being informed by an independent panel to provide external expertise.

The review is considering how to ensure RSHE teaching is age-appropriate, and will decide what safeguards to put in place to stop pupils being taught "contested and potentially damaging concepts".

Ms Keegan has clarified companies providing teaching resources cannot use copyright law to forbid schools from sharing materials.

She said: “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 relationship education.

“Parents must be empowered to ask and schools should have the confidence to share.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the clarification on copyright law is helpful, but raised concerns the guidance could pose a huge additional workload when schools are already "significantly overburdened".

He added: “If the Government had spoken to the sector in advance of this statement we might have been able to resolve the practical difficulties it raises.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...