Amanda Spielman has called for DfE guidance about relationships education to give schools “more specificity” about the LGBT content they are required to teach.
The chief inspector’s comments follow complaints from headteachers about a lack of clarity about what they have to teach.
Speaking after a speech in which she reiterated her support for schools at the centre of protests about LGBT issues, Ms Spielman told Tes: “I think it would be really helpful to have more clarity for schools on this”.
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Asked what more she wanted education secretary Damian Hinds to do to support schools, the chief inspector added: “I think the new RSE guidance is definitely several steps in the right direction but clearly it still leaves a great deal open for schools to decide how much to do and when, and my view is that more specificity would undoubtedly be helpful for schools.”
Ms Spielman said that schools in England have “an immense amount of autonomy”, and that increased diversity in the country had led to “a much broader range of opinion, and probably greater tension between people in different places on the spectrum of opinion”.
She said: “That means that much more of what we leave to schools to decide is now seriously contested.
"That’s why the job of being a head has got so much more difficult I believe, and why things where historically it may have been absolutely right to take a permissive approach and say 'let’s leave it to schools, they will know their own communities best', it may now just be an impossible task to expect every school to navigate that.
"Better to have one national conversation rather than 20,000 separate school-level conversations.”
She was speaking last week after a speech at the Festival of Education at Wellington College, and before the DfE released its final statutory guidance about relationships, sex and health education on Tuesday.
But on LGBT teaching in relationships education in primary schools the final guidance is exactly the same as the department’s draft guidance from earlier this year.
This week the headteacher of Anderton Park Primary, the Birmingham school at the centre of on-going protests, warned that the guidance still leaves it up to schools to decide when they should teach children about LGBT families.