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#7 Can parents withdraw their children from school RSE?

The new legislation brought in through the Children and Social Work Act 2017 will bring about some important changes in relation to parental rights to withdraw children from school RSE:

  • Parents will not be able to withdraw their child from Relationships Education in primary school or secondary school
  • Parents will be able to withdraw their child from primary school classes which address sex education - i.e. those that do not sit within the Relationships Education curriculum.

  • Maintained primary schools are required to teach National Curriculum science, which includes some elements of sex education. Parents do not have a right to withdraw from this.

  • At secondary school level parents will be able to withdraw their child from sex education (other than the sex education which sits in the National Curriculum as part of science in maintained schools). However a child will also have a right to opt into sex education from their 15th birthday (specifically three academic terms before they turn 16)

  • Schools will continue to be required to publish policies on these subjects for parents, and statutory guidance will continue to set out that schools should consult parents on those policies to ensure they are feeding in their views.

Full details of the new requirements are available in the new Government RSE guidance available from 

The majority of parents support RSE and tools are available to support effective consultation with parents, for example our parental engagement questions