Today’s Education in the Media blog focuses on the new guidance on RSE and health education.
RSE and Health Curriculum
Today, Monday 25 February, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has confirmed plans for reforms to the RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) and health education curriculum to be implemented in schools from September 2020. This has been covered nationally by the Mail, the Telegraph, the Times, the Guardian, the Mirror, the Sun, the Metro and BBC Online, whilst there has also been regional coverage from the Yorkshire Post, Birmingham News, Lancashire Post. In addition to this, the Education Secretary has appeared on the Today programme, BBC Breakfast and Good Morning Britain to promote the announcement.
The new guidance will see children being taught about their mental and physical wellbeing as well as online safety, with content always being age appropriate. Also covered across the curriculum will be LGBT+ issues, respectful relationships and consent.
The new guidance also stipulates that secondary schools should address the physical and emotional damage caused by FGM, raise awareness of the support that is available, and ensure pupils know that FGM is against the law.
The new guidance follows an extensive call for evidence and three-month consultation on the draft regulations and guidance which received over 11,000 responses from charities, teaching unions and more.
Although all schools will teach from the new guidance from 2020, schools who are ready will have the option to deliver the curriculum from September 2019.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Growing up and adolescence are hard enough, but the internet and social media add new pressures that just weren’t there even one generation ago. So many things about the way people interact have changed, and this new world, seamless between online and offline, can be difficult to navigate. Almost twenty years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on.
Although sex education is only mandatory to teach at secondary, it must be grounded in a firm understanding and valuing of positive relationships, and respect for others, from primary age. In turn positive relationships are connected with good mental health, which itself is linked with physical wellbeing. So it is appropriate to make health education universal alongside relationships and sex education.
I’m very grateful to the many people who have fed into developing these new programmes, to equip youngsters better to deal with the world of today. It starts as it always did with the importance of friendship, kindness, taking turns; as well as learning about the pitfalls and dangers, including on the internet. It will help children learn how to look after themselves, physically and mentally, and the importance of getting away from the screen and the headphones. And it can help young people be resilient as they chart a course through an ever more complex world.