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Championing healthy relationships
and sexual wellbeing

Relationships and sex education - parents' quiz

The Department of Education's new guidance on relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education is scheduled to be finalised and with schools by September 2019. It will then become statutory in September 2020.

Complete this 6 question quiz to share your opinions about what you think your child should be learning, when they should be learning it, and how you want to be involved - and find out what the draft guidance says.

The primary science and PE curriculums already cover teaching on the main body parts, puberty and how a baby is conceived and born. The new relationships education curriculum will focus on teaching about the characteristics of positive, healthy relationships, with reference to friendships, family relationships, relationships with other peers and adults, relationships formed online, and how to stay safe in these relationships. Self-respect and respect for others will be an integral part of the teaching.

The secondary relationships and sex education curriculum will build on what was taught in primary school, and will introduce intimate and sexual relationships, and sexual health. It will also explore online safety and the media in greater depth.

Relationships and sex education (RSE) will be statutory in secondary schools, while relationships education will be statutory in primary schools. Physical health and wellbeing education will be statutory in both. Sex education will not be compulsory in primary schools. However, the statutory primary science curriculum and the new statutory physical health and wellbeing curriculum covers related areas, such as puberty. It will be for primary schools to decide whether to cover any additional sex education content to meet their pupils’ needs. 

The new guidance recommends that primary school sex education programmes should be tailored to the age and maturity of pupils and that both boys and girls should be prepared for puberty and know how a baby is conceived and born. Each school will be required to set out any additional sex education topics they will teach in a policy and consult with parents.

The draft guidance regards parents as the first educators of their children, as they ‘have the most significant influence in enabling their children to grow and mature and to form healthy relationships.’ All schools will be required to work closely with parents when planning and delivering RSE. Parents should be informed about what will be taught and when, and about their right to withdraw their child.

The value of using external educators in schools is also recognised in the guidance, but as an enhancement of, rather than a replacement of, teaching by ‘an appropriate member of the teaching staff.’ However, many schools are worried about how they are going to train and equip teaching staff. For instance, should the staff, or external educators, delivering these subjects have a minimum level of qualification in the subject, such as an accredited training certificate like acet UK’s Level 4 award ‘Teaching Relationships and Sex Education’? Visit our training page to find out more.

According to the draft RSE guidance, parents will have the right to withdraw their child from some, or all, sex education lessons delivered as part of statutory RSE, up to and until three terms before the child turns 16.  After this point, the child can request to receive sex education rather than be withdrawn.

Parents will not be able to withdraw their child from relationships education or health education.

When dealing with a parental request for withdrawal, the draft guidance recommends that the Head Teacher discusses the request with the parent (and, if appropriate, with the child) to clarify the request, discuss the nature of the curriculum, and talk about the impact withdrawal from the lessons may have.

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