Sex and Relationships Education consultation

Over the summer, the government launched the latest round of consultation on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Health Education in England. Unlike a lot of consultations recently, there’s a lengthy response period, with a call for comments and evidence being submitted by the 7 November.

During the passing of the Children and Social Work Act, the government recognised:

‘to make Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory through regulations, and to consider doing the same for Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) or elements of the subject.’

Following feedback from schools, the government is not proposing to make all of PSHE& RSE compulsory, but is rather consulting with Head teachers, teachers, voluntary and community organisations, parents and carers, and young people themselves on what should be taught in relationships, sex education and PHSE at primary and secondary schools.

The government’s approach, therefore, is a mix between core knowledge and a degree of flexibility, ‘the flexibility for schools also allows them to consider adapting their curriculum to the particular needs of their pupils and their knowledge of the local environment in which they are growing up.’

The regulations also set out the right for parents to withdraw from RSE: ‘the school should respect the parents’ request to withdraw the child, up to and until three terms before the child turns 16’ – to fit with English case law and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Department for Education believe this approach best to balance parents’ and young peoples’ rights.

The new approach is due to be piloted by early adopters next year, with all schools required to teach the new subjects from September 2020.

The consultation is linked here – I’d encourage you to forward it on to your teachers, governors and students to respond to wherever they can.

This month, we’ll be sharing tips from the sexual health charity, FPA, on how to start this important conversation in the classroom with important emphasis on inclusion and equality. Keep an eye on our social media and website during Sexual Health Week from 24 – 30 September.

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