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30 January 2018

Press release

Poll shows parents must be included in relationships education decisions

New polling shows the public want parents at the heart of new relationships education proposals, with most wanting parents informed of the curriculum content ahead of time and to know who is delivering classes.

This comes as the government is consulting on what form compulsory relationships education should take for primary school pupils in England, after making the decision last year that it should be mandatory.

Research commissioned by the Evangelical Alliance and conducted by ComRes shows that 78 per cent of adults in Britain back parents having access to the content of relationships education classes ahead of time. Another finding shows that four out of five people agree that parents should be notified if external organisations are contributing to the lessons.

The research also shows that the public think parents are best placed to decide when children should learn about sensitive subjects such as sexual activity and orientation.

Two thirds (65 per cent) of adults think that parents are the most appropriate people to decide when primary school children should learn about sexual activity and sexual orientation. A similar proportion (66 per cent) say politicians are the least appropriate group to make that decision.

Commenting on the findings, Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance said: "Parents know their children best, and when it comes to teaching about relationships, they are clearly the right people to make the 'what and when' decisions about such issues.

"The government should listen to these results and not try and ride roughshod over the will of parents. When it comes to teaching sensitive issues around sex and relationships, it's clear that the role of the state and politics should be limited.

"Teaching children to build strong relationships with family and friends is important for society and we would encourage the government to make this the heart of relationships education. Local schools should work closely with parents to make this the cornerstone of this initiative."

The research also shows very high levels of support for the curriculum of relationships education to include content around family and friendships, staying safe online, and unsafe contact with strangers both on and offline. At least 86 per cent say it is important that the curriculum includes each of these topics. In addition 71 per cent thought relationships education should respect the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of children and families.

Media Enquiries

Danny Webster
Tel: 07766 444 650
Email: info@eauk.org

Notes to Editors

  1. ComRes surveyed 2,036 GB adults online between 19-21 January 2018. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults aged 18+ by age, gender, region and social grade.  ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables will be available from 30 January on their website. 
  2. The survey asked participants to rank in order of preference "In your view, who is the most appropriate person/people to decide on the right age primary school age children should learn about issues of sexual orientation and sexual relationships?" The options available were: parents, teachers, politicians, doctors, and children themselves. Sixty-five percent selected parents as the most appropriate and 66 per cent said politicians were the least appropriate. 
  3. The survey also asked respondents to state the extent they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements relating to relationships education. In response to the statement 'Schools should be required to notify parents ahead of time if any external charity or organisation is going to be involved in teaching this relationships education' 80 per cent either strongly agreed or tended to agree with the statement. Seventy-eight percent agreed (either strongly or tended to) with the statement: 'Schools should be required to make the content of this relationships education available to parents before it is taught in schools'. 
  4. When asked how important it is for relationships education for primary school pupils to cover the following topics, 86 per cent considered it fairly or very important to cover family relationships; 89 per cent friendships; 93 per cent staying safe online; and 94 per cent unsafe contact from strangers (both on and offline). 
  5. Dr David Landrum is available for interviews
  6. The government's consultation is open until 12 February and available online at:  https://consult.education.gov.uk/life-skills/pshe-rse-call-for-evidence/ 

The Evangelical Alliance

We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.