Parents should have access to all the materials used in their children’s sex education classes, Rishi Sunak has said.
The Prime Minister warned that schools must be transparent in what they are teaching their pupils following an outcry over claims children were being exposed to inappropriate concepts.
And he revealed his own concerns about his daughters’ internet use, promising that the Online Safety Bill would crack down on the availability of adult content to children.
Conservative MPs have accused some schools of effectively encouraging teenagers to become sexually active, claims which have been heavily contested.
Last week Mr Sunak ordered a review into the allegations. Speaking on his trip to California for a summit with the leaders of the US and Australia, he said: “I was concerned by the reports that I’ve seen, and that’s why it’s important that we review this and get it right.
“These materials are obviously sensitive. I speak as a parent, first and foremost, rather than politician. And it’s important that that is age appropriate. And it’s important that parents know what’s going on and have access to those materials. If that’s not happening, then we need to make sure that it is and that’s why it’s right that we do a proper review of the situation.”
Asked whether he was concerned about the sexualisation of children in society generally, the Prime Minister said: “That’s why I’m – again, as a parent – really pleased with the Online Safety Bill.
“I think that’s a necessary piece of legislation. Again, an example of the UK leading, because no other large economy has as comprehensive a piece of legislation as that. It’s been warmly welcomed by children’s groups, it provides very robust protections on what children are accessing and able to see online.
“My elder daughter just got her own phone last year. A big moment in our house and it brings home exactly what’s going on every time I see her on it. And every parent will feel the same. That new bill, when it becomes law, gives Ofcom all the powers it needs, means we can regulate what children are being exposed to. We have proper age control. And that’s absolutely the right thing to do.”
The Online Safety Bill places new obligations on internet companies to control the ability of children to access content that may be damaging to them. Critics claim it is a form of censorship that will prove unworkable.