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Relationships and Sex Education: Implementation date draws closer

31 Dec

I        Introduction

The government has legislated that as from September 2020, all children in primary schools and academies will engage in relationships education. This will be expanded at secondary level to relationships and sex education (RSE).  Pupils will learn about how to keep safe online and taking care of their mental health.  In primary schools and academies, pupils will continue to learn (scientifically) about how, as they physically grow, their bodies morph when moving through puberty.

For primary schools and academies, the guidance about sex education is vague.   It stipulates only that pupils should be “taught lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) content at a timely point”. There is no indication of what is “timely”. However, schools and academies must ensure that LGBT content is “fully integrated into their programmes of study”, not “delivered as a standalone unit or lesson”. Teaching about sexual orientation must be inclusive and respectful and must give pupils “an equal opportunity to explore the features of stable and healthy same-sex relationships”.

Meanwhile, parents will continue to have the right to request that their children be withdrawn from those lessons up to the age of 15.  Headteachers will have the power and responsibility to grant such requests.

After the age of 15, pupils will decide for themselves whether to attend RSE classes. The government guidance states that headteachers are expected to talk to the parents of pupils below the age of 15 (who make the withdrawal requests), discuss the benefits of receiving this important part of the educational provision and “any detrimental effects that withdrawal may have on their children”.

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Relationships and sex education guidance updated after nineteen years.

18 Apr

The updated draft guidance on sex and health education was published on 25 February 2019 following the first draft on which the government consulted over 2017 and 2018.  This includes minor changes. The public’s response to the government’s consultations elicited widespread opposition to some Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) elements in its guidance.

From 2020, relationships, sex and health education will be compulsory in all secondary schools and academies, while all primaries will have to teach relationships and health education.  Currently, academies are not compelled to teach this subject because they don’t follow the national curriculum.

Schools and academies “must have regard” to the guidance, and “where they depart from those parts of the guidance which state that they should (or should not) do something they will need to have good reasons for doing so”.

The document includes several aspects of the subject pupils should know by the end of certain stages. There are too many to go into here.

The rest of the article is based on the briefing that The Key, a governors’ services organisation, has given to its members, for which I am deeply grateful.

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