Secondary children in classroom

Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE)

Changes to Relationships and sex education (RSE) are vital to support the social and emotional development of children and young people. 


Since September 2020, Relationships Education, Health Education, and Relationships and Sex Education became compulsory in England. Relationships, Sex and Health Education is sometimes shortened to RSHE.

From September 2021, schools are expected to teach an RSHE curriculum that meets the Department’s statutory guidance.

The NEU wants to support all schools to build an effective, inclusive and needs-led RSHE. We encourage schools to keep engaging with parents and pupils as much as possible to help inform curriculum planning and to identify gaps in learning that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic, so that topics can be picked up later. 

2024 DFE review of the RSHE guidance

The Department for Education has released draft guidance on relationships, sex and health education, that is currently out for consultation. The Union is working on a response to this consultation.

It is important to emphasise that this guidance is draft out for consultation – there is no need to change any existing policies in reaction to the draft guidance. It is important to remember that when relationships and sex education (RSE) became mandatory five years ago it was widely supported in Parliament as a safeguarding tool. 

As outlined in the Sex Education Forum’s Young people’s RSE 2024 poll, young people are starting to benefit from this protective curriculum, with 50% saying their RSE is ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in our poll of 16 and 17 years olds earlier this year.

The Union has some concerns about the guidance.

  • We are concerned that age restrictions will make it harder for young people to receive the information they need to be safe in a timely fashion
  • We believe that this guidance makes the obligations on teachers less clear, and will make it harder for them to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities
  • We believe this guidance will make it harder for schools to successfully meet their requirements under the Equality Act 2010, which includes a responsibility to ensure LGBT+ equality.

On this basis, we will be completing our response to the consultation.

We encourage members to complete the consultation themselves, in your own words, reflecting on your professional experience and best practice in your settings. You can find the consultation at Review of the RSHE statutory guidance.

The deadline for the consultation is Thursday 11th July

Relationships Education and RSE guidance 2020

This guide outlines the key changes to Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for schools in England.

It highlights what the key statutory changes are, what this means for schools and what the NEU believes to be key principles to delivering holistic, inclusive, empowering and needs-led RSE. It also contains frequently asked questions on Relationships Education and/or RSE and signposts to further resources and tools to support teachers and education professionals.

Related content

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AGENDA teachers resource

AGENDA is an online resource for educators who want to empower children (age 7-18) to make positive relationships matter in their schools and communities.


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