Schools in England will be banned from teaching sex education to children under nine, under new government guidance to be published on Thursday.

The BBC has not seen the new guidelines but a government source said they included plans to ban any children being taught about gender identity.

If asked, teachers will have to be clear gender ideology is contested.

But headteachers have told the BBC that there is no evidence of a widespread problem.

The statutory guidance on relationships and sex education – which schools must follow by law – is currently under review.

That review was announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak following concerns that some children were being exposed to “inappropriate content”.

The government believes that clearer guidance will provide support for teachers and reassurance for parents, and will set out which topics should be taught to pupils at what age.

But head of the Suffolk Primary Headteachers’ Association said the government’s proposals won’t make “that much difference”.

Rebecca Leek, who is also interim headteacher at a primary school north of Ipswich, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that sex education typically isn’t taught in primary schools until Year 6, and “parents already have a right to withdraw” their child if they wish.

“Schools are already obliged to provide reasonably precise information to parents as to what the content will be for sex education,” she said.

Pepe Di’Iasio, headteacher at a school in Rotherham, told Today that he believes pupils are being used “as a political football”.

Teachers “want well informed and evidence-based decisions”, he said, and not “politicised” guidance.

“All headteachers have to assess their curriculum and move their curriculum in order to cope with whatever might be the issue of the day.

“Whilst we welcome a chance to look at this, we also need the flexibility to respond to whatever those particular needs are”, he said.

The National Association of Head Teachers has previously argued the review is “politically motivated”, saying there is no evidence to suggest a widespread problem with pupils being presented with age-inappropriate materials.

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