Every single school in Britain will be given support on teaching about LGBT relationships after lessons sparked protests from parents, Education Secretary says
- Gavin Williamson said headteachers should 'teach about Britain as it is today'
- The law has been 'set out quite clearly' ahead of mandatory introduction in 2020
- Protests occurred in schools in Birmingham and Nottingham before the summer
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
Every single school is to get support on teaching about LGBT relationships after lessons sparked outrage from parents.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said headteachers should be 'able to teach about Britain as it is today'.
Before the summer holidays, high-profile protesters gathered outside primary schools in Birmingham and Nottingham with some claiming teaching about LGBT relationships was 'over-emphasising a gay ethos'.
Mr Williamson added the law has been 'set out quite clearly' ahead of its mandatory introduction in September 2020.
The Department for Education (DfE) released guidance encouraging schools to adopt the new curriculum on relationships education when schools return from the Summer holidays in September, before the law is officially in place.
But Mr Williamson said he had no plans to visit the headteacher of Birmingham's Anderton Park Primary School, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, who has previously told of being subjected to abuse during weeks of protests outside her school.
Protesters demonstrated outside the gates of Nottingham's Fernwood Primary just before schools broke up for the summer holidays
She called in June for Mr Williamson's predecessor, Damian Hinds, to visit and discuss the current policy on relationships and LGBT education in schools.
Speaking at the time, she said: 'The importance of this goes beyond Anderton Park, it goes beyond protests on my pavements - it's a British law issue.'
Mr Hinds did meet union officials and officers from Birmingham City Council to discuss the issue, and it is understood that Ms Hewitt-Clarkson has not asked Mr Williamson to meet her.
Both Anderton Park and Parkfield Community School in Birmingham were the scenes of weeks of noisy protests.
Parkfield Community School saw weeks of noisy protests before the school broke up for the summer holidays. Andrew Moffat, the school's openly gay assistant headteacher, came up with the No Outsiders programme which teaches children about gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships
The No Outsiders equality education programme was suspended in the last term during talks with parents and mediators. However, in July it was announced a modified version of the programme would be taught from the start of the new term in September, after consultation with parents
Police at Birmingham school amid protests over LGBT teaching
A separate demonstration took place outside the gates of Nottingham's Fernwood Primary just before schools broke up.
Ms Hewitt-Clarkson had previously warned of the protests spreading without more support for schools, although the DfE has said it has been working 'very closely' with heads on the issue.
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At Parkfield school, its No Outsiders equality education programme - which teaches children about gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships - was suspended in the last term during talks with parents and mediators.
However, in July it was announced a modified version of the programme would be taught from the start of the new term in September, after consultation with parents.
Relationships education for primary-age pupils and compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE) for secondary-age pupils in state schools will become compulsory from September 2020.
Parents protest outside the Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham. Mr Williamson said he had no plans to visit the school's headteacher
Anderton Park's head teacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson called in June for Mr Williamson's predecessor, Damian Hinds, to visit and discuss the current policy on relationships and LGBT education in schools after parents protested outside the primary
In some of his first remarks on the subject since being appointed Education Secretary, Mr Williamson said there is no place for protests at school gates.
Ms Hewitt-Clarkson previously told of being subjected to abuse during weeks of protests outside her school
He said: 'Firstly, we shouldn't be seeing protests outside any schools.
'We want to make sure all pupils, parents and teachers are able to go to those schools freely without any form of intimidation.
'We will be there supporting and backing every single school - that's what we have been doing.
'The purpose of it is we wanted to make sure every single school is able to teach about Britain as it is today - but also have the flexibility to ensure that it has an understanding of the communities which it operates in.'
Asked if he would meet Ms Hewitt-Clarkson, Mr Williamson said: 'What we're doing is we've been very focused in making sure that we deliver financial settlement in terms of every single school across this country.
'We've set out quite clearly in terms of legislation and in terms of delivery of sex and relationship education and that's there for all schools to deliver and will be rolled out over the coming year.'
Again asked whether he would be meeting Anderton Park's headteacher, he added: 'As I said, we've made it quite clear as to what is needed to be done.'