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Relationships and Sex Education: Statutory Guidance

Volume 662: debated on Tuesday 25 June 2019

Today, following the successful passage of the regulations for the introduction of relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education, the Government have published the final accompanying statutory guidance.

At the heart of preparing children for life in modern Britain is making sure that they understand the world they are growing up in. It is 19 years since the sex and relationships guidance was last updated. For children and young people, the challenges that they face today are very different. Children are encountering a more interconnected and interdependent world, and this has changed significantly how they build relationships, interact with their peers and manage their own mental and physical wellbeing.

This presents both opportunities and risks, as children have greater exposure to information, content and people that can and do cause harm. There is little distinction for many young people between their lives online and off, and that is why we believe now more than ever, that we need to provide young people with the knowledge they need in every context to lead safe, happy and healthy lives.

We have therefore brought forward measures requiring the introduction of compulsory relationships education for all pupils in primary schools, compulsory relationships and sex education for all pupils in secondary schools, and compulsory health education for all pupils in state-funded schools from September 2020.

With cross-party support, the regulations for these subjects were approved by both Houses of Parliament and were made by the Secretary of State on 9 May. The statutory guidance published today sets out the legal duties with which schools must comply, the required core teaching content for the subjects, and guidance on how the content should be delivered in an age appropriate way.

We will be setting out further details on how we will support schools to introduce the new subjects in September 2020. This will include working closely with the many schools who are choosing to begin teaching the subjects from September 2019, so that we can support their journey, learn lessons and share good practice.

We will also be convening a new working group, who will provide insight into how the new guidance is working in practice. This group, with representatives from teaching unions, sector experts, faith and minority groups, parents and young people, will provide us with evidence and feedback to improve the delivery of these subjects.

We believe that these subjects are an historic step in education that will help equip children and young people with the knowledge and support they need to form healthy relationships lead healthy lives and be happy and safe in the world today.