Relationships and sex education: handling complaints from parents

You may receive complaints from parents about your school's RSE curriculum due to the sensitive nature of the topics taught. Learn when it's your board's job to step in and how to handle the most common complaints confidently.

Last reviewed on 28 September 2022
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School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 36812
  1. Your headteacher will handle the vast majority of complaints
  2. The complaints process
  3. Reassure parents that their views were respected during the consultation period
  4. Explain that parts of the RSE curriculum are mandatory
  5. Explain parents' right to withdraw
  6. Handle faith-based or cultural objections sensitively but firmly
  7. Direct parents to resources from the DfE
  8. Assure parents that you'll maintain oversight
  9. Recognise when to end the conversation

The current relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education curriculum came into place in September 2020. 

Although your school should have consulted parents on your RSE curriculum and changes to your RSE policy, you may continue to receive objections. This could happen, for example, when new pupils and parents join your school.

Your headteacher will handle the vast majority of complaints

But, there may be occasions where parents don’t feel they’re being heard. They may:

  • Be unhappy with what the curriculum teaches
  • Believe their child is too young for the curriculum
  • Not want their child learning about certain things on religious grounds 

Ultimately, it might be that no amount of reassurance from the headteacher is satisfactory.

In those cases, the headteacher (or a governor, if approached) should refer the parent to your school’s complaints policy. Members of your board will be involved in parts of the complaints process that follows. 

The process of handling complaints about