Government set to announce ‘ban’ on sex education for children under 9 - here's why headteachers say it won't make ‘much difference’

New government guidance will reportedly ban schools from teaching sex education to children under nine

School children in classroom
(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to a government source, Ministers are set to announce a change to sex education in schools today, banning them from teaching sex education to children under nine. 

Later today [Thursday 15 May], the government are reportedly set to announce a massive change in approach to sex education in schools, banning sex education lessons for children under nine. 

The news comes from a government source who spoke to the BBC and revealed that as well as banning sex education, the government are also set to ban the children from being taught anything about gender identity.

The plans are surprising as headteachers who spoke to the BBC following the news said that there is no evidence of a widespread problem with either the approach to teaching kids under nine about sex education or gender identity, though some research has shown that sex education in schools is 'failing' as young people turn to porn to learn

The statutory guidance, when released, must be followed by law and will force teachers who are asked questions about gender to be 'clear gender ideology is contested,' the source said. They added,  "We have always been consistent that the idea that someone can have a gender identity different from their sex is a contested political belief that must not be taught as fact in our schools."

As per reports in The Daily Mail, the guidance will enforce a 'total ban on the subject for infant children' with sex education lessons only being permitted for children in Year Five and above. However, the head of the Suffolk Primary Headteachers' Association told the BBC that the proposals simply won't make "that much difference" as sex education typically isn't taught in primary schools until Year 6, and "parents already have a right to withdraw" their child from the lessons if they so wish.

In response to the planned guidance, teachers have said the ban is a 'politicised' choice that does not give teachers the 'well informed and evidence-based decisions' they so desperately need after the current guidance left it up to primary schools to decide what aspects of sex education they need to teach their pupils.

Speaking about the ban, Stephanie Lowe, the Family Editor at, said, “While I understand that the announcement of this ban is pretty non-sensical - it's talking about formally banning something that isn’t actually taught to under nine-year-olds anyway - it highlights how archaic our school curriculum is. 

"I’m a mum to a six-year old and he knows all the anatomically correct body parts for both genders, and we talk openly  - and age appropriately - about what sex is and how it is something that happens between adults, and that it only happens when both adults want to be a part of it, i.e. consent. Evidence from the BMJ shows that sex education helps to reduce unwanted, non-consensual sex - which is vital for young and vulnerable children. 

"Sex education isn’t just about the ‘act’ it’s about teaching how to recognise and report feelings of being unsafe or feeling bad about any adult, and that each person’s body belongs to them, and the differences between appropriate and inappropriate or unsafe physical contact. Sex education is a must from the Early Years, in my opinion, to keep children safe.”

The new guidance will come as a result of a review ordered by Rishi Sunak that followed complaints from more than 50 Conservative MPs who wrote to the prime minister claiming children were being "indoctrinated with radical and unevidenced ideologies about sex and gender".

So, the new guidance reportedly states that all sex education material must be based on 'scientific fact' and must be 'age-appropriate.' This means, according to the source, that at the age of nine, children will be taught the basic elements of conception and birth, as well as how to set 'appropriate boundaries' and how to report anything that concerns them, The Times reported.

At 11, children will be taught that sending naked photographs of someone under 18 can be a criminal offence, as well as about sexual harassment, revenge porn, forced marriage and grooming. 

At 13, they can be taught about contraception, STIs and abortion, as well as possibly being taught about domestic violence, coercive control, and sexual violence.

Knowing how to talk to your child about sex or other topics that come up as they hit puberty - such as talking about periods - isn't easy. But there are plenty of steps you can take to help make it a smoother journey like learning how to talk to kids about coming out as gay, lesbian or bisexual or reading up on identities you aren't aware of such as demisexualasexualpansexual

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.