Teaching unions have sent a clear message that when relationships and sex education (RSE) becomes a statutory part of all schools’ teaching in 2019, it must be based on facts rather than opinions, delivered by properly trained staff and meet the needs of all pupils.
The unions, including Voice, have endorsed a set of 12 guiding principles created by the Sex Education Forum to guide teachers and policymakers as the Government consultation on RSE nears its end.
The principles require that RSE gives a positive view of human sexuality, delivered by properly trained staff, working in partnership with parents. The subject must present reliable, medically-correct information relevant to all pupils, including those with disabilities, special educational needs and must foster LGBT+ equality and gender equality.
Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice, said:
‘We welcome the 12 Principles for bringing relevance, clarity and value to RSE.
‘Education should prepare children for adult life, and RSE is a fundamental part of a healthy journey to becoming an adult.
‘High-profile issues such as mental health, body image and identity are all interconnected. Much of the associated uncertainty and angst happens in adolescence, or even before, and many life choices are made during this period of development. Sound RSE should support young people with the process of making those choices.
‘These Principles place RSE in the wider context of children’s spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development.’
The principles of good quality RSE are that it:
1. Is an identifiable part of a PSHE education curriculum, with planned, timetabled lessons across all the Key Stages
2. Is taught by staff regularly trained in RSE and PSHE (with expert visitors where appropriate)
3. Works in partnership with parents and carers, informing them about what their children will be learning and how they can contribute at home
4. Delivers lessons where pupils feel safe, using a variety of teaching approaches to enable them to take part
5. Is based on reliable sources of information, including about the law and legal rights, distinguishing between fact and opinion
6. Promotes safe, equal, caring and enjoyable relationships and discusses real age-appropriate issues such as friendships, families, consent, relationship abuse, sexual exploitation and safe relationships online
7. Gives a positive view of human sexuality, with honest and medically accurate information, so that pupils can learn about their bodies and sexual and reproductive health in ways that are appropriate to their age and maturity
8. Gives pupils opportunities to reflect on values and influences that may shape their attitudes to relationships and sex, nurturing respect for different views
9. Includes learning about how to get help, treatment and information from a range of reliable sources
10. Fosters gender equality and LGBT+ equality and challenges all forms of discrimination in lessons and in every-day school life
11. Meets the needs of all pupils with their diverse experiences - including those with special educational needs and disabilities
12. Seeks pupils’ views about RSE so that teaching can be made relevant to their real lives and assessed and adapted as their needs change.
Read the Sex Education Forum's news release in full.
Further details, including posters for schools and other supporters of the principles, are available here.
The Government's ‘call for evidence’ on RSE
The Department for Education (DfE) is considering how to update the existing Sex and Relationship guidance which, was last updated in 2000. The updated guidance will support schools in delivering the new subjects of Relationships Education at primary and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at secondary, as well as, potentially, Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). View the DfE's consultation here.