On 1 March, Justine Greening announced the biggest overhaul to sex education in 17 years. The intention to make relationships and sex education (RSE) compulsory across all schools has been announced after lengthy campaigning by NAHT on behalf of our members. Most recently, we have been working with a broad range of organisations and charities, lobbying MPs about proposed amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill.
The government announcement is set to pave the way for every child to be able to access age appropriate Relationships and Sex Education. Until now, sex education has been compulsory in all state maintained secondary schools but this latest reform will be applicable to schools across the board. Primary schools will be expected to deliver Relationships Education.
The Department for Education will engage with stakeholders to develop suitable age-appropriate content and there will be a full consultation on proposed guidance later this year. This guidance will help schools to deliver high-quality, inclusive relationships education and RSE. Greening announced that schools will be expected to deliver this content from September 2019.
The amendments proposed to the Children and Social Work Bill will also allow the government to require all schools in England to teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). Following our campaigning for all pupils in all schools to have access to PSHE, NAHT is delighted that these regulations would apply to both primary and secondary, maintained schools and academies.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, commented on the importance of this reform to young people's safety. "We welcome the announcements made today. We have long advocated age-appropriate sex education and PSHE, for all pupils in all schools, to help prepare young people for the challenges they will encounter in their adult lives and the current challenges they face beyond the school gates.
"It is so important for young people to be taught about appropriate relationships, and the duties set out today bring that one step closer. NAHT has long argued that SRE is best fulfilled as part of statutory PSHE, and we welcome the announcement of a review into the shape of this. We look forward to playing our part in ensuring SRE/PSHE delivers for young people."
This reform is also set to provide protection for the schools and teachers. James Bowen, director of middle leaders' union NAHT Edge: "PSHE is crucial to provide young people with the tools they need for life, and to protect teachers when discussing often sensitive subjects. It is right that there is space in the curriculum for this, and middle leaders will look forward to seeing further detail on the review.
"Whether working in primary or secondary settings, middle leaders know the value of age-appropriate sex and relationship education. I look forward to seeing further detail on how this can be delivered for all pupils."
NAHT will now continue our campaigning work, engaging with the government to ensure the development of clear guidance materials for schools on RSE and ensuring full involvement in their review work to determine the future regulations and statutory guidance on PSHE Education.
First published 06 March 2017