PARENTAL RIGHTS ADVICE PACK – SUMMARY
ParentPower has had a stream of enquiries this year, and it is clear there are distinct areas of education where parental rights are being ignored, overridden or deliberately treated with contempt. This is particularly the case with parents who have a religious faith – though the rights of parents apply to all, irrespective of faith or conviction.
The main area of contention concerns LGBT/Transgender issues, where the entrenched human right of parents to educate “in conformity with their own religious or philosophical convictions” is subsumed under what has been called “ideological colonisation”, promoting a particular set of views at total variance to the beliefs of many parents and families.
ParentPower is finding considerable similarities between the cases they advise on or handle, and below are some very simple steps that any parent can take to:
- a) make themselves aware of their rights
- b) prepare to defend these with schools.
These steps below are only an outline. ParentPower, with allied organisations such as the Christian Legal Centre, can advise on specific instances, as each case will vary at each school. But these are the first steps in the defence of your children and your way of life.
- Parental Rights under the law
- Right to withdraw your child from sex education
- School policies and procedures including complaints procedure
- Combination with other parents to make joint requests/complaints
1. Parental Rights under the law
The rights of parents are clear and entrenched in law. The primary law is contained in the following Article of the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950 (following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948), incorporated into English Law by Human Rights Act 1998.
Protocol 1 Article 2 ARTICLE 2
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.
This is reinforced by Religion being a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010. It appears in practice there is a hierarchy where other protected characteristics, e.g. transgender, override this. But in law they are of equal force and merit and should be asserted as such.
2. Right to withdraw your child from sex education
Section 405 of the Education Act 1996. Exemption from sex education
“If the parent of any pupil in attendance at a maintained school requests that he may be wholly or partly excused from receiving sex education at the school, the pupil shall, except so far as such education is comprised in the National Curriculum, be so excused accordingly until the request is withdrawn”
Under the new regulations proposed this will be significantly diminished. But it is still the law until September 2020. It is a categorical and absolute right. Parents should not be afraid to use it. Re- badging sexual education as “anti-bullying”, “PSHE”, “Relationship Education”, “British Values”, does not change the substance or content. If the subject matter of the class concerns sexual issues, this right applies.
3. School policies and procedures including complaints procedure
School procedures and policies are critical in the defence of parental rights. Normally they will pay lip service to consultation with parents, but such consultation can be claimed and enforced. Also, standard school policies on equality and diversity will quote respect for religious faith and this can be asserted and quoted back to the school. Lastly, school complaints procedures will give specific rights and procedures. Schools will often use these to slow down and dissipate concerns, but it is vital to be ready for a procedural fight as schools will soon grow tired of dealing with determined and organised parents standing on their clear rights under the law.
4. Combination with other parents to make joint requests/complaints
Parents acting in concert: this is a completely unused force. It is difficult as in the current culture you can meet a lot of abuse and contempt for challenging the current orthodoxies on same-sex, gender etc. Be ready to face accusations of homophobia and bigotry. But parental rights are clear. Parents acting together, ParentPower believes, will prove the unstoppable force to secure your rights, and safety and sound education for your children.
We at ParentPower are always ready to assist and advise and, if necessary, travel to meet and support you.
(Written by a serving Headmaster of a Christian School who is one of the ParentPower team.)