In September 2020 Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) became compulsory, meaning that:
- All primary schools in England teach relationships education.
- All secondary schools in England teach relationships and sex education.
RSE Guidance and a Whole School Approach (WSA)
In 2019 the Department for Education (DfE) published statutory guidance about how RSE should be taught across England by 2020. This guidance is due for review in September 2023 and every three years thereafter. The guidance broadly supports a WSA, requiring schools to:
- Have in place an accessible and public policy for RSE, ensuring the policy reflects the views of teachers and pupils.
- Consult parents in developing and reviewing their policy.
- Foster healthy and respectful communication and behaviour between boys and girls.
- Provide an environment which ‘challenges perceived limits on pupils based on their gender or any other characteristic…as part of a whole-school approach.’
- ‘Be alive to issues such as everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes and take positive action to build a culture where these are not tolerated, and any occurrences are identified and tackled.’
- Address issues in line with pupil need, informed by pupil voice.
The guidance acknowledges that:
“Working with external organisations can enhance delivery of these subjects, bringing in specialist knowledge and different ways of engaging with young people.”
It also explains that:
“Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education complement several national curriculum subjects’ and schools should ‘look for links between these subjects and integrate teaching where appropriate.”
It goes on to say:
“All these subjects should be set in the context of a wider whole-school approach to supporting pupils to be safe, happy and prepared for life beyond school.”
RSE guidance should be read in conjunction with other statutory guidance, including:
- Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022
- Behaviour in Schools: Advice for Headteachers and School Staff