Statutory RSE in England: a simple guide

From September 2020, relationships and sex education will become statutory in all secondary schools in England and relationships education will become statutory in all primary schools in England.

We're here to guide you through the changes and support you to deliver a high-quality, evidence-based programme to your students.

What's changing?

From September 2020, relationships and sex education will become statutory in all secondary schools in England.

Relationships education will become statutory in all primary schools in England. In line with government guidance, we recommend that age-appropriate sex education is also taught in all primary schools.

Health Education will also become statutory in all state-funded schools.

What does my school need to do to prepare for statutory RSE?

These simple guides for primary schools and secondary schools outline your school's statutory requirements from September 2020.

Which schools need to teach it?

All schools providing primary education must teach relationships education. This includes:

  • all through schools and middle schools
  • local Authority maintained schools
  • independent schools
  • academies
  • free schools
  • special schools
  • faith schools
  • pupil referral units.

Can parents withdraw their children from lessons?

Parents do not have the right to withdraw pupils from relationships education.

Do we need a policy?

Yes. The policy should:

  • be up to date and made available, for free, to parents and others
  • define relationships education
  • set out the content and benefits of RSE
  • describe how the subject is evaluated
  • explain a parent's right to withdraw their child
  • confirm when the policy will be reviewed.

Which schools need to teach it?

Primary schools are not required to teach sex education.

However, the Department of Education recommends that all primary schools have a sex education program of work.

Children have the right to comprehensive sex education and FPA strongly recommends that all primary schools teach age-appropriate sex education.

Can parents withdraw their children from lessons?

Parents have the right to withdraw their children from sex education.

This does not include what is taught as part of the science curriculum.

All children have the right to comprehensive sex education and most parents support the teaching of sex education in schools. Schools should engage with parents and have a clear policy in place which explains the benefits of school-based RSE.

Do we need a policy?

If a primary school teaches sex education, it is required to have a policy. The policy should:

  • be up to date and made available, for free, to parents and others
  • define sex education
  • set out the content and benefits of RSE
  • describe how the subject is evaluated
  • explain a parent's right to withdraw their child
  • confirm when the policy will be reviewed.

Which schools need to teach it?

All state schools must teach health education. This includes:

  • primary schools
  • secondary schools
  • schools with a sixth form
  • academies
  • free schools
  • non-maintained special schools
  • alternative provision, including pupil referral units.

Guidance on Health Education does not apply to independent schools.

Can parents withdraw their children from lessons?

Parents do not have the right to withdraw pupils from health education.

Do we need a policy?

No.

Which schools need to teach it?

All schools providing secondary education must teach relationships and sex education. This includes:

  • all-through schools and middle schools
  • local authority maintained schools
  • independent schools
  • special schools
  • faith schools
  • free schools
  • academies
  • pupil referral units.

Can parents withdraw their children from lessons?

Parents do not have the right to withdraw pupils from relationships education.

Parents have the right to withdraw their child from some aspects of sex education. This does not include what is taught as part of the science curriculum.

Before granting a request to withdraw a child, the head teacher should discuss the value and importance of RSE with parents.

A child can request sex education without their parent’s consent from three terms before their 16th birthday.

Do we need a policy?

Yes. The policy should:

  • be up to date and made available, for free, to parents and others
  • define relationships and sex education
  • set out the content and benefits of RSE
  • describe how the subject is evaluated
  • explain a parent's right to withdraw their child
  • confirm when the policy will be reviewed.

Which schools need to teach it?

All state schools must teach health education. This includes:

  • primary schools
  • secondary schools
  • schools with a sixth form
  • academies
  • free schools
  • non-maintained special schools
  • alternative provision, including pupil referral units.

Guidance on Health Education does not apply to independent schools.

Can parents withdraw their children from lessons?

Parents do not have the right to withdraw pupils from health education.

Do we need a policy?

No.

What if my school isn’t in England?

Find out about RSE in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (PDF).

We’re here to help

We recommend that schools implement high-quality RSE as soon as possible to give your pupils the best start in life.

Evidence shows that relationships and sex education benefits young people and society. Find out more about our views on RSE.

We’re passionate about supporting schools to deliver comprehensive RSE – and we have lots of courses and resources to help you.

Our courses

Working with our experienced network of trainers, we’ve developed training for teachers, school nurses and teaching assistants to help prepare you for statutory RSE in 2020.

Our courses develop your practical skills, enabling you to understand what’s required from RSE, explore up-to-date guidance, identify recommended resources, create a safe space to facilitate discussion about sex education, and answer tricky questions.

How to deliver great RSE in primary schools

A course for anyone working in primary education with children aged 4-11.

How to deliver great RSE for pupils with SEND, an introduction

A course for anyone working in primary or secondary special schools or with SEND pupils in mainstream provision with children and young people aged 4-18.

How to deliver great RSE in secondary schools, an introduction

A course for anyone working in secondary or further education with young people aged 11-25.

How to develop a greater RSE programme in secondary schools

A course to develop the practical and planning skills of experienced practitioners to deliver great quality, timely RSE in secondary schools.

What people say about our courses

"I would enthusiastically recommend this course, especially if you are new to delivering RSE"

"The trainer was brilliant, the visual aids and interaction made for a great day"

"I loved the practical exercises, great role modelling"

"It was good to see the consent yes and no activity played out. Food for thought!"

"I feel I will now be more confident in discussing some of these issues with young people."

"Really informative, up to date, evidence-based practice. Thank you so much!"

"All of the training was really useful especially the supporting literature and available resources"

"I will feel more confident to challenge others on the value of RSE in my school, parents and governors!"

Resources to help you

Growing up with Yasmine and Tom

An interactive online resource for primary schools that makes teaching relationships and sex education, simple, easy and fun.