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What is RSHE and why are we reviewing the curriculum to protect children?

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What is RSHE and why are we reviewing the curriculum to protect children?

We want to make sure that young people can make informed decisions about their health, wellbeing and relationships, in a sensitive way that is appropriate for their age.

To ensure young people continue to be taught about these issues appropriately, we are going to review the relationships sex and health education (RSHE) statutory guidance.

What is RSHE?

RSHE stands for relationships, sex and health education.

Relationships education has been compulsory for pupils in primary education since September 2020. For secondary pupils, relationships and sex education (RSE) must be taught. Health education is now compulsory in all schools too.

  • In primary schools, the subjects should put in place the key building blocks for healthy, respectful relationships, focusing on family and friendships, in all contexts, including online. This will sit alongside the essential understanding of how to be healthy.
  • At secondary school, teaching builds on this and develops pupils’ understanding of health, with an increased focus on risk areas such as drugs and alcohol, as well as introducing knowledge about intimate relationships and sex and how to have positive and healthy sexual relationships.

The current RSHE guidance can be found here.

Why are we carrying out a review on RSHE and what will it look at?

RSHE is an important part of the curriculum, and this review will ensure that it is being taught appropriately.

We are putting together an expert panel that will inform the review and will advise on how to put in place protection from pupils being introduced to things that they are too young to understand properly. The panel will also consider how age ratings can be introduced for different parts of curriculum.

When will this review happen?

The review will be complete before the end of 2023.

Can parents see what is being taught in RSHE lessons?

Yes. Parents should be able to see what their children are being taught and we expect schools to respond positively where parents request to see teaching materials.

We are clear that schools must make sure all content they use is factual and age-appropriate and talk to parents, so they are aware of what their children are being taught.

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary has written to schools to remind them of their duty to share all materials with parents. She has also made clear that copyright does not prevent them from doing so when they show materials to parents on the school premises, but that we expect schools to avoid working with providers that do not agree to share materials with parents.

Can I ask for my child to be removed from these lessons?

Parents have a right to request that their child is withdrawn from sex education, but not from relationships education.

Parents can ask their school for their child to be withdrawn from some or all of sex education lessons.

Does my child’s school have to teach RSHE?

It is mandatory for RSHE to be taught in all schools.

We expect all schools to teach the full RSHE curriculum to secondary age pupils and relationships and health education to primary age pupils.

Primary schools may also teach sex education where appropriate. The teaching of RSHE is reviewed by Ofsted at inspection.

Schools should also ensure that the policy meets the needs of pupils and parents and reflects the community they serve.

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