Health Education and Sex and Relationship Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 5th August 2020.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all resources recommended or promoted for use by schools by the Department for Education are checked for compliance with (1) safeguarding procedures, (2) the Equality Act 2010, (3) the Public Sector Equality Duty, and (4) the statutory guidance on Relationship Education, Relationship and Sex Education and Health Education.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

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. That is why we are making Relationships Education compulsory for primary school-aged pupils, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory for secondary school-aged pupils, and Health Education compulsory for pupils in all state-funded schools from September 2020.

In light of the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, and following engagement with the sector, the department is reassuring schools that although the subjects will still be compulsory from 1 September 2020, schools have flexibility over how they discharge their duty within the first year of compulsory teaching.

The safety of children is our top priority. We expect all schools to ensure that the materials and teaching resources they use are appropriate, and to ensure that they comply with their statutory duty to safeguard children’s welfare. The statutory guidance sets out clear advice on choosing resources. 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, where relevant.

The department does not recommend specific resources but has suggested resources for schools to consider as set out in Annex B of the statutory guidance. We encourage schools to use resources that have been quality assured by reputable organisations, such as the NSPCC on safeguarding issues. The department will be providing further advice to schools on choosing appropriate resources and is developing teacher training modules for these subjects, which the department has quality assured and recommends.

Schools must consult with parents on the school’s RSE policy. Schools should also ensure that, when they engage parents, they provide examples of the resources they plan to use, for example the books or materials they will use in lessons. 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.

At the heart of these subjects there is a focus on keeping children safe, and schools can play an important role in preventative education. Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) sets out that all schools and colleges should ensure children are taught about safeguarding, including how to stay safe online, as part of providing a broad and balanced curriculum. The guidance can be accessed via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education--2.

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