Skip to main content

Sex and Relationship Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL5273, tabled on 4 June 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Berridge on 5 May (HL3330), what is meant by schools developing Relationships Education or Relationships and Sex Education “that is sensitive to the ... backgrounds of their pupils”.

Answered on

18 June 2020

We want to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe. We also want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. We are making Relationships Education compulsory for primary school-age pupils, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory for secondary school-age pupils and Health Education compulsory for pupils in all state-funded schools from September 2020.

Whilst it is important that the statutory duty to teach the new subject still comes into force in September, given the current circumstances faced by schools, the department will reassure schools that there will be some flexibility. Schools that are prepared to teach the subjects should begin teaching from September 2020. Schools that are not ready to teach the subjects should aim to start preparations as soon as possible and begin teaching no later than the start of the summer term in 2021.

The department is committed to supporting schools in their preparations and is currently developing a new online service featuring innovative training materials, an implementation guide, case studies and support to access resources. This support will cover all of the teaching requirements in the statutory guidance and will be inclusive to all pupils. This will be available in the summer term, with additional content added in the following months. Training will also be available for schools that need additional support. This will complement the online training materials and will be available through existing teaching schools’ regional networks.

As part of the consultation on the draft regulations and statutory guidance, the department included a number of questions on school support and implementation. The responses to the consultation, including from expert organisations and teachers, demonstrated that teachers want to receive training to support the delivery of the new subjects. The government response to the consultation can be accessed via the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/780768/Government_Response_to_RSE_Consultation.pdf.

The department has also been working extensively with teachers, schools and subject experts throughout the development of these subjects, to assess the needs of schools. We have also been working closely with over 1,500 early adopter schools. This has informed our investment in a central package to help all schools to increase the confidence and quality of their teaching practice in these subjects.

In all schools, the religious background of all pupils must be taken into account when planning teaching, so that the topics that are included in the core content listed in the statutory guidance are appropriately handled. Schools must ensure they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010. The statutory guidance can be accessed via the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/805781/Relationships_Education__Relationships_and_Sex_Education__RSE__and_Health_Education.pdf.

Ofsted’s school inspection handbook sets out that inspectors will consider the provision for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Health Education as part of a wider judgment of pupils’ personal development. Routine Ofsted school inspections are currently suspended in order to alleviate pressure on school leaders and staff at this challenging time, and there are no plans to lift the suspension this term. When routine inspections do re-start, inspectors will be sensitive to, and will take account of, the context and circumstances of schools. Further information on this will be made available in advance of any re-introduction of routine inspections.