Can I withdraw my child from Religious Education and/or Sex Education?
The teaching of religious education ("RE") and sex and relationship education ("SRE") in schools is often subject to parental debate. Both subjects are unusual: although schools must provide these lessons, parents have the right to remove their child from such lessons.
Maintained primary schools only need to educate children about basic biology, whereas maintained secondary school syllabuses involve teaching about reproduction, sexuality and sexual health.
Although SRE must be taught, parents have a right to remove their child from certain aspects of these lessons. Only areas involving science are compulsory, so parents can withdraw their child from all optional areas of SRE (such as sexual orientation, contraception and abortion).
For academies and free schools, SRE is not compulsory. However, if they choose to teach SRE, they must follow Government guidance, and parents will have the right to withdraw their child from all aspects other than the compulsory science elements.
All maintained schools must teach RE, but parents can withdraw their child for all or part of RE lessons, and once a child reaches 18, they can choose to withdraw themselves.
Although academies and free schools do not have to follow the national curriculum, they are bound through the terms of their funding agreement to teach RE. The parental right to withdraw depends on the individual funding agreement of each Academy.
Faith schools can choose what they teach in RE, so do not have to follow the same syllabus as non-faith schools. As maintained schools, however, parents still have the legal right to withdraw their child from these classes.
Ultimately, it is down to each individual parent to decide whether they wish their child to be taught SRE and RE. Any parental withdrawal request should be supported by the School, and the School must make alternative arrangements for that child.
If you would like more information, please do speak to one of our Education Team who would be more than happy to help.