Sep 30, 2020

You may have heard in the news recently that secondary schools are to be marked down in their Ofsted inspection if inspectors are not happy with the level of teaching on LGBT relationships.

This is true, and regrettable, but it is not really news. The Government has been clear since the detailed plans for the new compulsory subject of Relationships Education were unveiled in spring 2019 that teaching about LGBT relationships was to be made mandatory in secondary schools.

What you may have missed, and is much more significant, is that Ofsted’s new guidance sets out for the first time that primary schools will not be marked down in their leadership and management judgement if they do not cover LGBT relationships. This represents a change in practice for Ofsted, which had controversially been downgrading the leadership of several primary schools for not teaching about LGBT relationships. It was pointed out in Parliament in May that this was not in line with the law and reflected instead an independent policy of Ofsted.

Ofsted’s new guidance is therefore a welcome shift from the schools watchdog.

The new guidance also confirms that schools “are at liberty to teach the tenets of any faith on the protected characteristics”. This includes a religion’s moral objections to same-sex marriage. Schools are required to “explain the legal rights LGBT+ people have under UK law, and that this and LGBT+ people must be respected”.

When it comes to pointing out the use of unacceptable materials in schools, Ofsted doesn’t have a great track record.

So we can certainly welcome this change in the Ofsted guidance.