Poll shows parents must be included in relationships education decisions

New polling shows the public want parents at the heart of new relationships education proposals, with most wanting parents informed of the curriculum content ahead of time and to know who is delivering classes.

This comes as the government is consulting on what form compulsory relationships education should take for primary school pupils, after making the decision last year that it should be mandatory.

Research commissioned by the Evangelical Alliance and conducted by ComRes shows that 78 per cent of adults in Britain back parents having access to the content of relationships education classes ahead of time. Another finding shows that four out of five people agree that parents should be notified if external organisations are contributing to the lessons.

The research also shows that the public think parents are best placed to decide when children should learn about sensitive subjects such as sexual activity and orientation.

Two thirds (65 per cent) of adults think that parents are the most appropriate people to decide when primary school children should learn about sexual activity and sexual orientation. A similar proportion (66 per cent) say politicians are the least appropriate group to make that decision.

Commenting on the findings, Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance said: “Parents know their children best, and when it comes to teaching about relationships, they are clearly the right people to make the ‘what and when’ decisions about such issues.

“The government should listen to these results and not try and ride roughshod over the will of parents. When it comes to teaching sensitive issues around sex and relationships, it’s clear that the role of the state and politics should be limited.

“Teaching children to build strong relationships with family and friends is important for society and we would encourage the government to make this the heart of relationships education. Local schools should work closely with parents to make this the cornerstone of this initiative.”

The research also shows very high levels of support for the curriculum of relationships education to include content around family and friendships, staying safe online, and unsafe contact with strangers both on and offline. At least 86 per cent say it is important that the curriculum includes each of these topics. In addition 71 per cent thought relationships education should respect the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of children and families.

Danny Webster


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