Heads say guidance on sex ed and trans issues needed now
HEADTEACHERS last night called for safeguarding guidance on transgender issues to be published ‘as soon as possible’.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) union piled more pressure on Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to publish the advice ‘sooner rather than later’.
It comes as the chief inspector of Ofsted told school and college leaders there was a need for ‘clearer and more specific guidelines’ on relationships and sex education (RSE) in the wake of concerns from some Tory MPs about controversial content being taught to pupils.
This week Rishi Sunak said ministers would accelerate a review of how the material is taught.
Addressing more than 1,000 school and college leaders at the ASCL’s annual conference yesterday, Ofsted’s Amanda Spielman said: ‘I think good relationships and sex education is an important and valuable thing in schools.’
She told leaders it is ‘doubly important’ that ‘ the RSE in schools really is well grounded in facts, in evidence... because otherwise controversy could so engulf it that it could make schools more risk averse and jeopardise the good RSE’.
‘I do think good guidelines – clearer and more specific guidelines – really could help everybody get it right,’ she added.
ASCL leaders also called on the Government to publish safeguarding guidance to schools in relation to transgender issues. Evelyn Forde, president of ASCL and headteacher of Copthall School in north London, said: ‘Guidance often comes out quite late from the DfE. So I think what we would welcome would be that early guidance. We’d welcome it as soon as.’
The Prime Minister said a review of guidance for schools in England on sex education would be brought forward after Tory backbencher Miriam Cates claimed children were getting ‘graphic lessons on oral sex, how to choke your partner safely and 72 genders’.
A dossier she presented to the PM of parents’ concerns about what their children are being taught included primary school children learning about masturbation, 12-year-olds being asked how they felt about oral and anal sex and those aged 13 being told about gender fluidity.
Campaigners say parents are being left in the dark about the material, with some schools blocking parents from viewing resources because of potential copyright
‘Clearer and more specific guidelines’
breaches. Mrs Keegan said on Wednesday she was ‘deeply concerned by reports of inappropriate sex education lessons in schools’.
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘It is incredibly important that we take the time to get the guidance right, and the Education Secretary is working closely with the Women and Equalities Minister to produce a draft for consultation before final publication later this year.’