UK schools could be marked down in OFSTED inspections if they do not teach about LGBT+ families, according to new guidance.
LGBT-inclusive relationships and sex education (RSE) became mandatory for UK schools this month, with schools required to teach the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 as they apply to relationships.
This means that every primary school child must learn about different types of families, including those with same-sex parents, and secondary school students must be taught about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Now, in guidance published Thursday (September 17) by schools watchdog OFSTED, it has been revealed that schools who do not abide by the new guidance could be marked down in inspections.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the watchdog is carrying out a “phased return to inspection”, and schools have been given “flexibility over how they discharge their duty within the first year of compulsory teaching”.
This means that although OFSTED will initially comment on schools’ “readiness” to comply with the RSE guidance from the Department for Education, whether or not a school teaches about LGBT+ relationships “will not impact inspection judgments until the start of the summer term 2021”.
From the 2021 summer term, secondary schools who do not teach about LGBT+ relationships could receive a leadership and management judgement of “requires improvement” or worse.
If a primary school does not teach about LGBT+ relationships by this time, it must “satisfy inspectors that it has still fulfilled the requirements of the DfE’s statutory guidance”.
“If it cannot do this,” the guidance states, “for example if it has failed to consult with parents, inspectors will consider this when making the leadership and management judgement.
“The school will not ordinarily receive a judgement for this better than requires improvement.”
A school that is overall rated “requires improvement” on two successive OFSTED visits becomes subject to monitoring to ensure its progress.
Separate to the new RSE requirements, OFSTED said it will also consider LGBT+ inclusion in its judgement on the personal development of pupils.
Its guidance states: “All primary and secondary schools, whether state-funded or independent, should be able to demonstrate that no form of discrimination is tolerated and that pupils show respect for those who share the protected characteristics.
“Schools will not be able to demonstrate this by pointing to a general policy of encouraging respect for all people.”
For faith schools, OFSTED added: “Schools are at liberty to teach the tenets of any faith on the protected characteristics.
“For example, they may explain that same-sex relationships and gender reassignment are not permitted by a particular religion.
“However, if they do so, they must also explain the legal rights LGBT people have under UK law, and that this and LGBT people must be respected.”
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