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Strengthening Relationships
and Sex Education


The Law, Policy & Guidance relating to provision of Relationships & Sex Education

The government has been clear that high quality PSHE and age-appropriate SRE teaching are essential to keeping pupils safe and healthy, inside and outside the school gates. (Government Response: Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools, March 2015). The RSE Hub aims to ensure high quality Relationships and Sex Education and as such goes beyond the current statutory requirements. 

The most up to date legislation relating to Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is detailed below:

  • It is compulsory for all maintained schools to teach the parts of sex education that fall under  National Curriculum Science which must be taught to all pupils of primary and secondary age  e.g. the biological aspects of puberty and reproduction (Education Act 1996, National Curriculum 2014). The GCSE Requirement at KS4 also includes reference to HIV and AIDS, hormones and contraception but the RSE Hub believes this is too late and this material should be covered earlier in an age appropriate way.  

  • School Governors - School governors are in law expected to give ‘due regard’ to the SRE 2000 guidance and to maintain an up to date RSE policy which must be made available to parents. (Learning and Skills Act, 2000).
  • Parents - Parents have a right to withdraw their children from any school SRE taught outside the Science CurriculuM (Education Act 1996 & Learning and Skills Act, 2000).
  • Primary Schools - Primary schools can decide not to teach SRE outside of National Curriculum Science but must have an RSE policy stating this intention (Education Act, 1996)
  • Secondary Schools - Sex and Relationship Education is statutory in maintained secondary schools. (DfE 2014) & schools must teach about HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (Education Act 1996 F771)
  • Wellbeing - Schools have a legal duty to promote the well-being of their pupils (Education and Inspections Act 2006 Section 38) and RSE contributes to this duty. 
  • Equality - Schools have a legal duty to promote equality (Equality Act 2010) and to combat bullying (Education Act, 2006) (which includes homophobic, sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying) & Section 4.2 of The national curriculum (2014) states “Teachers should take account of their duties under equal opportunities legislation that covers race, disability, sex, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.”


Non-statuotory guidance and reccomendations

In 2014 Brook, PSHE Association and the Sex Education provided updated non-statutory guidance for schools. The RSE Hub was involved during the development of the document and endorse its contents as reflective of good RSE provision. 

Brook, PSHE Association and Sex Education Forum (2014): Sex and Relationships Education for the 21st Century 


In 2015 the Education Select committee produced a report into PSHE including RSE Education Select committee (2015) Education - Fifth Report Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools. and the government responded Department for Education (2015) Government Response: Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools .  The RSE Hub response to these reports can be read here


Sexual Health - The Department for Health Framework for Sexual Health (2013) in England stated an ambition to build knowledge and resilience among young people by:

    • All children and young people receive good-quality sex and relationship education at home, at school and in the community.
    • All children and young people know how to ask for help, and are able to access confidential advice and support about wellbeing, relationships and sexual health.
    • All children and young people understand consent, sexual consent and issues around abusive relationships.
    • Young people have the confidence and emotional resilience to understand the benefits of loving, healthy relationships and delaying sex. (DH, 2013, Page 13)

Ofsted - From September 2015 the key judgement Behaviour and Safety has been replaced by the key judgement Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare.

  •  It is important to note that: The judgement on overall effectiveness is likely to be inadequate where any one of the key judgements is inadequate and/or safeguarding is ineffective and/or there are any serious weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. (Grade descriptors for overall effectiveness – School Inspection Handbook)

    Inspectors must also evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development. Paragraphs 132 to 135 of the School Inspection Handbook (2015) outline what evidence inspectors should look for when making a judgement about pupils’ SMSC development


    Personal development, behaviour and welfare are deemed to be good if:

    • Teachers and other adults are quick to tackle the rare use of derogatory or aggressive language and always challenge stereotyping.
    • Teachers and other adults promote clear messages about the impact of bullying and prejudiced behaviour on pupils’ wellbeing. Pupils work well with the school to tackle and prevent the rare occurrences of bullying.
    • The school’s open culture promotes all aspects of pupils’ welfare. They are safe and feel safe. They have opportunities to learn how to keep themselves safe. They enjoy learning about how to stay healthy and about emotional and mental health, safe and positive relationships and how to prevent misuse of technology.
    • Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development ensures that they are prepared to be reflective about and responsible for their actions as good citizens.
    • Pupils use careers guidance to make choices about the next stage of their education, employment, self-employment or training.
    • (Grade descriptors for personal development, behaviour and welfare – School Inspection Handbook,2015)



The RSE Hub is a clear choice for schools looking for support and guidance with developing the Relationships and Sex Education within their school.  For more information please contact us at info@rsehub.org.uk



Brook, PSHE Association and Sex Education Forum (2014): Sex and Relationships Education for the 21st Century 

Department for Education (2015) Government Response: Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools

Education Act (1996)

Education and Inspections Act (2006) Section 38

Education Select committee (2015) Education - Fifth Report Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools.

A Framework for Sexual Health in England (2013)

National Curriculum Framework (2014)

Learning and Skills Act (2000)

Ofsted School Inspection Handbook (2015)

Sex and Relationships Education Guidance DfE (2000)





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