THE new generation of state-funded but independently run free schools and academies are to be told that they will gain government support only if they teach the importance of marriage for family life, it has been reported.
They must also ensure that pupils are protected from “inappropriate teaching materials” in sex and relationships education. The advice is spelled out in a clause in the Free School Model Funding Agreement and the Academy Model Funding Agreement, which is binding on schools.
The clause sets out new rules on sex and relationships education which are significantly more conservative than current guidance, which dates from 2000. The development has been welcomed by critics of the use of explicit sex-education materials in primary schools, including the widely used Channel 4 DVD Living and Growing. But the president of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson, said: “For children brought up by unmarried parents or single parents, being told marriage is the only valid family arrangement will be contradictory to everything they know about the world.”
The content of Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE), which includes lessons on sex and relationships, in schools other than free schools and academies, is currently under review as part of the wider re-modelling of the National Curriculum.
A spokeswoman for the Church of England said: “The Church is completely supportive of compulsory programmes of PSHE. . . Naturally we expect the content of PSHE and sex education in church schools will be set firmly within the framework of Christian teaching, which stresses the importance of a faithful marriage as the best framework for sex.”