The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a consultation following Parliament’s decision to make Relationships Education mandatory in all primary schools, and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) mandatory in secondaries. The consultation will inform decisions made on the support, lesson content and flexibility given to schools to deliver Relationships Education, RSE as well as, potentially, Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE).
FSRH and RCOG have submitted a joint response to the Government's consultation on RSE. Together, we have strongly endorsed maintaining most elements of the DfE’s 2000 Sex and Relationships Education Guidance as well as the more recent comprehensive approach outlined in Sex and Relationships Education for the 21st Century. We have emphasised that both documents are robust pillars which should not be ignored.
FSRH and RCOG have made clear, well-evidenced recommendations that both RSE and PSHE must be based on factual, unbiased and accurate information. This would have two effects. First, fulfilling the unquestionable rights of children and young people, empowering them to make positive health and lifestyle choices. Second, having a strong contribution to reducing unplanned pregnancies and the provision of positive public health outcomes. Some of the key recommendations we made in relation to this include:
• A national specification setting out an essential checklist of topics, resources and national guidelines encompassing essential mandatory topics such as “contraception and reproductive health” and “non-biased information on pregnancy options, including abortion”. We made this recommendation in specific reference to the threat of schools having too much flexibility in determining lesson delivery and content.
• Secondary schools to ensure factually based, open-ended discussion of issues of fertility, contraception and pregnancy options, including abortion. FSRH and RCOG signposted the Government to material we have prepared to support this - an “Abortion Factsheet” which is to be published on the FSRH website soon.
• Secondary schools to ensure a focus on consent, respect and safe sex.
Of equal importance FSRH and RCOG emphasised that RSE must remain within a whole school approach and in the context of broader PSHE education, making clear that this implies that PSHE itself should become statutory.
You can download our consultation response below. You can also download a shared position statement on PSHE and RSE on behalf of FSRH, the PSHE Association and other organisations here.