Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, has said that parents will be able to withdraw their children from sex education classes.

His predecessor, Justine Greening, had wanted sex education to be compulsory and universal. This had raised concerns as the government plans to extend “sex and relationships education” to children as young as four.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Mr Hinds said: “There is an established right for parents to withdraw their children from sex education”. The “science curriculum”, he added, referring to biology lessons covering human reproduction, is “a different matter”.

When the Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman suggested to Mr Hinds that he was reversing Ms Greening’s policy, “he shrug[ged] acknowledgment”.

Mr Hinds also confirmed his intention to abolish the admissions cap which prevents new Catholic schools from opening. Current regulations prevent free schools from reserving more than 50 per cent of places for children of any one religion. The Catholic bishops have said that this makes it impossible to open Catholic free schools. The Tories had promised to abolish the cap in their 2017 manifesto, but during Ms Greening’s tenure the promise seemed to have been put on hold.

Mr Hinds, who himself went to a Catholic school and is a Mass-goer, told the Sunday Times: “I’m interested in having good school places and that includes schools with a religious aspect. Where there is parental demand and where there is a need for places, I want it to be possible to create those new schools.”

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