Schools that fail to teach pupils about LGBT relationships risk being marked down by Ofsted inspectors.
Secondary schools that decide not to cover these lessons are unlikely to receive a judgment better than “requires improvement” for their leadership and management, the watchdog guidance says.
Primary schools that do not consult parents before deciding against teaching LGBT relationships could also be penalised by inspectors in judgments, Ofsted has warned.
Teaching relationships education is compulsory in all state schools in England from this academic year 2020-21 – and sex education is mandatory in secondary schools.
But the Department for Education (DfE) has said schools can delay teaching the new Relationships and Sex education (RSE) curriculum until the start of the summer term due to the partial closures of schools.
The move was taken to give schools more time to prepare to deliver the new curriculum and to engage with parents on their policies and content due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, some primary schools in Birmingham faced protests at the school gates from parents who opposed allowing children to be taught about the existence of LGBT relationships.
The DfE expects secondary schools, state-funded or independent, to deliver teaching on LGBT relationships and encourages primary schools to do so.
In new guidance, the watchdog said inspectors will assess schools’ “readiness to comply” with the DfE’s statutory guidance on RSE when full inspections return in 2021.
But findings will not impact on judgments until the start of the summer term.
Inspectors currently grade schools from the highest rating of Outstanding, through to Good, Requires Improvement and down to the lowest ranking of Inadequate.
From the start of summer term, if a secondary school does not teach about LGBT relationships, inspectors “will consider this when making the leadership and management judgment”, and schools “will not ordinarily receive a judgment for this better than requires improvement”.
For primary schools not teaching about LGBT relationships from summer 2021, this will not have an impact on the leadership and management judgment “as long as the school can satisfy inspectors that it has still fulfilled the requirements of the DfE’s statutory guidance”.
“If it cannot do this, for example if it has failed to consult with parents, inspectors will consider this when making the leadership and management judgment,” the watchdog says.
The Ofsted guidance also said schools may explain that same-sex relationships and gender reassignment are not permitted by a particular religion – but 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.”
Earlier this year, Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, criticised a lack of “swift” condemnation from the Government over the anti-LGBT protests held outside primary schools in Birmingham last year.
Speaking at the launch of the watchdog’s annual report in January, Ms Spielman said: “The powerful voices that should have supported the children in school were largely muted. We spoke out and backed the head teachers under fire and said children should learn about different kinds of family.”
An Ofsted spokeswoman said: “The Department for Education’s guidance makes it clear that secondary schools must teach about LGBT issues.
“Therefore, from next summer, if secondary schools do not teach about all the protected characteristics, they will receive a judgement of requires improvement for leadership and management.
“However, Government guidance is that primary schools have more discretion over when LGBT issues are age appropriate, and so won’t necessarily be marked down on leadership and management if they exclude them.”
By PA Education Correspondent