From 1 September 2020, relationships education/relationships and sex education (RSE), and health education will become compulsory subjects.

In this article, we summarise the new DfE guidance and focus on what schools should do now to be compliant.

What's Changing?

Whilst schools already teach about relationships, the previous guidance Sex and Relationships Education (2000) is now very dated.

The Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019, made under section 34 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, will come into force on 1 September 2020. All schools in England must have regard to this. From that date, schools will have to teach relationships education /RSE and health education. Primary aged children must be taught the relationships education curriculum and secondary aged children must be taught RSE.

Unless otherwise specified in the guidance, 'school' means all schools, including academies and free schools. The statutory requirement to provide health education also applies to academy schools as well as maintained schools.

Key elements are already considered by Ofsted as relevant to the evaluation of schools in respect of the quality of education, personal development and therefore leadership and management. Inspectors will consider your obligations in respect of the new curriculum when reaching their judgement.

What Do Schools Need to Do to Be Compliant?

  • Consult Your Parents - Schools are required to consult with parents on the school policy and curriculum content and delivery. This may seem a long way off, but schools are advised to be proactive and start planning now. Allow sufficient time to engage with parents before making any decisions and drafting your policies. However, consultation does not provide a parental veto on curriculum content or delivery. Ultimately schools, and not parents, determine the curriculum content.
  • Prepare Your Staff - Schools should appoint staff to manage the process, teach the new content and review their policies and procedures. Parents have been advised to contact schools directly if they wish to have more information about RSE - all the more reason to be prepared and for staff to know how to respond.
  • Draft your RSE Policy - Your new policy should comply with the guidance and needs to be tailored to your local community. It should also include definitions, subject content, information about parents' right to withdraw and details of review dates of the policy.