Last reviewed 20 September 2021

The Government has made Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools in England and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all secondary schools.

It has also made Health Education compulsory in all state-funded schools.

In this context, the Department for Education (DfE) has issued updated guidance which can be found here.

It has pointed out that the key decisions on these subjects have been informed by a thorough engagement process, including a public call for evidence that received over 23,000 responses from parents, young people, schools and experts and a public consultation where over 40,000 people contacted the DfE.

“The depth and breadth of views is clear,” (the then) Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “and there are understandable and legitimate areas of contention. Our guiding principles have been that all of the compulsory subject content must be age appropriate and developmentally appropriate.”

In addition, he went on, it must be taught sensitively and inclusively, with respect to the backgrounds and beliefs of pupils and parents while always with the aim of providing pupils with the knowledge they need of the law.

Schools must have regard to the guidance, the DfE emphasises, and, where they depart from those parts of the guidance which state that they should, or should not, do something, they will need to have good reasons for doing so.

The guide will be reviewed again in 2023. It includes links to a number of other useful publications on topics including mental health and behaviour in schools, sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and keeping children safe in education.