The Government is consulting on RSE - let's have our say

This year the Government announced it would make Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools in England and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all secondary schools. They have also made a new subject, ‘health education’, statutory in all state funded schools.


The Government is consulting on RSE – let’s have our say

Statutory RSE in schools is a huge win for the NEU – and something we have campaigned on for many years.   It is a first step towards ensuring every child and young person has access to information about healthy, happy and equal relationships.  There is also huge potential to transform children and young people’s attitudes and awareness about important issues such as consent, staying safe online and mental health and wellbeing.

But while these reforms are welcome, we still need to ensure they are translated into an RSE and Health Education that meets the needs of every pupil. The Government are currently consulting on the guidance outlining what these subjects should teach children and young people in primary and secondary schools and, crucially, what support schools will need to deliver them.

What you can do
We need you to share your views. The online consultation is open until 7th November and you can use our briefing paper for advice on how to respond.

NEU’s key demand is that these reforms must be coupled with Government funding to provide schools with access to training, as well as resources and guidance on how to plan and deliver RSE well.  We know that many of our members lack access to training and feel low in confidence when teaching RSE. This must be addressed now to ensure these reforms are a success. 

It’s also critical that the Government fully understands the real impact these reforms will have on schools. We think their impact assessment significantly underestimates how much these reforms will cost and we need you to share your views so that schools are properly supported.

Importantly, we need the guidance to ensure relationships education, RSE and health education can meet the needs of all: it must be inclusive, creative and empowering for children and young people no matter what their identity, class, background, faith or culture. We need an RSE and health education curricula to be evidence based and teach children the skills and values that will help them form healthy relationships.

We think the guidance goes a long way to meet these standards - but it can and should be stronger. That is why we are asking the Government to commit to ensuring the guidance keeps children safe. It must ensure that children learn the correct names for body parts in primary school and that sexual harassment and sexual abuse are introduced in an age appropriate way. It must ensure that the guidance is fully LGBT+ and SEND inclusive. And it must remove any content that can put children at harm or that is ineffective for creating positive, healthy relationships.

What next
The DfE is encouraging all schools to teach the new subjects from September 2019 to help prepare for the changes that will come into place in 2020.
To help schools get ready for statutory status we are sponsoring the Sex Education Forum’s Conference on 30th November. This event will give you guidance on the new legislation and advice on curriculum design. It will also help you to choose the best resources and teaching approaches, so you can build an inclusive and up-to-date programme for your school.

We are also working with the University of Cardiff to expand the excellent ‘Agenda’ resource which will be a key tool for helping teachers build positive relationships in their school.  

We believe that high quality RSE and Health Education in schools can help ensure the next generation have the skills to stay safe, know their rights and develop relationships that have equality and respect at their heart.  This consultation is a vital opportunity to have our say and tell the DfE what it needs to do to get this right.

RSE consultation guidance


12 October 2018