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Sex and Relationship Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 180388, tabled on 13 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether it is his Department's policy that schools retain discretion as to the use of the resources recommended within the Relationships and sex education statutory guidelines including the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare's Abortion Care Factsheet.

Answered on

20 April 2021

The Department does not comment on individual resources and schools retain discretion over the resources they use. Schools must have in place a written policy for Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), and they must consult with parents in developing and reviewing their policy.

The Department expects schools to make reasonable decisions about the content of their curriculum and use of resources. The implementation guidance for the RSE and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, which came into force in September 2020, sets out clear advice for schools in choosing resources. It states that schools should assess all resources carefully to ensure they are age appropriate, meet the outcome of the relevant part of the curriculum, and are in line with the school’s legal duties in relation to impartiality. The list at annex B of the statutory guidance for RSHE illustrates some of the free resources that are available to schools.

The Department does not have a role in reviewing the content of the resources listed and cannot advise schools on which resources will be the most suitable to use. Schools operate in a variety of different contexts and have both the expertise and knowledge that makes them best placed to make these decisions.

The statutory guidance makes clear that by the end of secondary education young people should know the facts relating to pregnancy and states that there should be medically and legally impartial information on all options. Pupils should be made aware of the relevant legal provisions when particular topics are being taught. It is for schools to decide how best to comply with this in order to meet the needs of their pupils.

To support teachers to deliver these topics safely and with confidence the Department has produced RSHE Teacher Training Modules which are available for all schools. The intimate and sexual relationships training, including a sexual health teacher training module, covers pregnancy specifically. Each training module covers safeguarding to make sure teachers, pastoral staff, and the designated safeguarding lead are equipped to deal with sensitive discussions and disclosures.