A 2012 Ofsted evaluation of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) and RSE delivery in primary and secondary schools in England found that teachers needed more support and training to teach sensitive and controversial RSE themes.
Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) became statutory in September 2020 with all schools expected to deliver the full curriculum by summer term 2021. The statutory RSE guidance requires that by the end of secondary level, all pupils know that there are choices in relation to pregnancy, with medically and legally accurate, impartial information on all options, including abortion. This factsheet aims to support schools fulfil this statutory requirement and ensure all educators, whether teachers or external visitors, provide young people with the correct information they need to make their own responsible choices.
In a survey of over 2,000 teachers conducted in 2020 by the National Education Union and NSPCC into school readiness for compulsory RSE lessons, 47% of teachers expressed a lack of confidence in their ability to deliver RSE education. Yet tools and training for teachers in such topics are very limited, which makes resources such as the FSRH-RCOG leaflet even the more crucial.
Despite being a common medical procedure, myths about abortion and stigma are widespread, including in the classroom. We aim to change that. The factsheet counters myths that are known to be taught in schools such as abortion causing infertility and mental illness.
Education for Choice, a project led by the young people’s charity Brook, released a report in 2013 investigating the state of abortion education in schools during a 10-month period. It found that some teachers and external speakers delivering lessons on abortion had been using materials which were inaccurate, biased and often stigmatised abortion.
A 2018 poll of 1000 young people aged 16 and 17 years old, conducted by Sex Education Forum found that 12% of young people had not learnt about pregnancy options at school. A key barriers to covering these issues in a school RSE programme is a lack of teacher confidence on the subject. Teachers of RSE placed ‘pregnancy options’ and ‘explicit online material’ as the two issues where their confidence was most lacking.
Pupils deserve and have the right to impartial, medically-accurate information.