Relationships & Sex Education
What is the meaning of RSE?
RSE stands for “relationships and sex education” and as part of Relationships and Health Education, is a new approach to teaching children about relationships and health. The Relationships Education, RSE, and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019 have made Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools. Sex education is not compulsory in primary schools. All primary school children will be required to learn about relationships and health. Relationships and Health Education comprises two distinct areas:
- Physical health and mental wellbeing
Schools will have a lot of freedom to decide how to teach the new curriculum but must teach in a way that is:
- Appropriate for children’s ages and development stage.
- Sensitive to the needs and religious backgrounds of the children in the school.
Why is there a new RSE Curriculum?
The current curriculum has not been updated for 20 years. So much change has happened since then. Children need to learn what is relevant to them and the world they are growing up in.
The new Relationships and Health Education 2020 curriculum is designed to:
- Help all children grow up healthy, happy and safe.
- Give all children the knowledge to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships.
- Support all children to manage the challenges and opportunities of modern Britain.
- Prepare all children for a successful adult lives.
Teaching relationships in primary education
The Relationships part of the new curriculum will teach the children what they need to learn to build positive and safe relationships:
- With family.
- With friends.
Schools should teach in a way that is appropriate to children’s ages and will look at the following questions:
- What is a relationship?
- What is friendship?
- What is family?
- Who can children look to for support?
What will children be taught by the end of primary school?
By the time a child finishes primary school, they will have been taught about the following in Relationships Education:
- Family and people who care for them.
- Caring friendships.
- Respectful relationships.
- Online relationships.
- Being safe.
Physical health and mental wellbeing in primary schools
The physical health and mental wellbeing part of the new RSE curriculum will teach the children how to:
- Make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing.
- Recognise issues in themselves.
- Recognise issue in others.
- Seek support as early as possible when issues arise.
By the time children finish primary school, they will have been taught about the following:
- Mental wellbeing.
- Internet safety and harms.
- Physical health and fitness.
- Healthy eating.
- Facts about drugs, alcohol and drugs and the risks
associated with them.
- Health and prevention of illness.
- Basic first aid.
- Changes to the adolescent body.
Can parents withdraw their children from the new RSE Curriculum?
Parents cannot withdraw their child from any part of the Relationships and Health Education aspects of the RSE curriculum. It is important for ALL children to be taught the content on such essential matters like friendships and keeping safe.
There are separate rules on withdrawing a child from Sex Education. Sex education is separate from the Relationships and Health curriculum and parents can withdraw children from some or all of the lessons on Sex Education. The head teacher must grant a parent’s request to withdraw a child beforehand, and it’s useful to have good conversations with parents so that they understand fully what their child will be taught.
Before making a request, parents should:
- Ask the school about what will be taught in Sex Education and when.
- Remember that the Science curriculum in all maintained schools includes content on human
development, which includes human reproduction.
- Remember there is no right for a parent to withdraw their child from the Science curriculum.
What are the obligations for schools for the RSE curriculum?
As a school you must teach in a way that reflects the age and religious background of the pupils. You must consult parents when developing and renewing your policies on Relationships and Health Education. You must publish your policies on Relationships and Health Education online, and make them available free of charge. Parents can express their opinions, and this will help each school to decide:
- How and when to cover the compulsory content.
- Whether to teach additional non-compulsory content.