The Department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe and to equip them for adult life. That is why Relationships Education has been made compulsory for primary school pupils, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) has been made compulsory for secondary school pupils, and Health Education compulsory for pupils in all state-funded schools.
The statutory duty to implement the new subjects from September 2020 has come into force. However, considering the current circumstances faced by schools, the Department is reassuring schools that they have flexibility over when they discharge their duty within the first year of compulsory teaching.
The content on Relationships Education for primary school pupils focuses on supporting children to have healthy relationships with their family and healthy friendships. It does not include content on sex education. If a primary school chooses to teach sex education, they will be required to publish a policy on this. Head teachers will automatically grant a request to withdraw a pupil from any sex education delivered in primary schools, other than as part of the science curriculum.
All pupils should receive teaching on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) content during their school years. Secondary schools should include LGBT content in their teaching. Primary schools can, when teaching about different types of families, include families with same-sex parents.
The statutory guidance for Relationships, Sex and Health Education sets out clear advice on choosing resources. The guidance states that schools should assess each resource they intend to use to ensure that it is appropriate for the age and maturity of pupils and sensitive to their needs. Schools should also ensure that, when they consult parents, they provide examples of the resources they plan to use. Schools should also ensure that teaching delivered by external agencies or visitors fits with their planned programme and their published policy. It is important that schools discuss the detail of how the visitor will deliver their sessions and ensure that the content is age-appropriate and accessible for the pupils. Schools should ask to see the materials that external agencies or visitors will use as well as a lesson plan in advance, so that they can ensure it meets the full range of pupils’ needs (for example, special educational needs). The statutory guidance can be accessed via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.
In covering the content of the new subjects, the guidance also sets out schools’ duty to comply with relevant requirements of the Equality Act (2010), including the Public Sector Equality Duty. Schools should also be aware of their duties regarding impartiality and balanced treatment of political issues in the classroom to ensure content is handled in an appropriate way.