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Tired of waiting?

28 June 2018

With little over 12 months until the planned start date for statutory RSE the question we keep hearing is ‘when will Government publish their new guidance?’ This is certainly going to be a key document. It will replace the current guidance which was published in 2000, and it’s the place where Government can show leadership and set the bar higher than they have done in the past.

Enthusiasm was dampened though by the response from Secretary of State, Damian Hinds to Education Select Committee questions (watch at 11.35) that statutory RSE would be 'available' from 2019 and 'probably compulsory from 2020', because of the Secretary of States 'committment to the teaching profession to give adequate time' [for changes]. While we wait for clarification about what this really means it does fill hearts with disappointment.

At the Sex Education Forum we hope that what may become a 'phased' approach to implementation will be supported with clear messages from Government about the steps that schools can start taking to ensure quality teaching of RSE.  These include timetable planning, identification of staff to lead and teach RSE, updating the curriculum and getting staff training underway. There is no reason why schools need to wait before taking these steps and nothing that the Government have said prohibits schools from providing the best, evidence-informed RSE that they can right now. The other thing we must get a commitment on is money - financial investment from Government to support schools, particularly with staff training. 

Waiting is frustrating though, so what can you do in the meantime?  

The Sex Education Forum has been shaping policy and practice on RSE for over 30 years. We have gathered together evidence from international research, young people, parents and schools, and used this to design practical tools that can support schools to get on with providing high quality, evidence based RSE now. So here are three things you can do before the summer break:

1. Know your facts

Legislation to do with sex education is notoriously complicated. Fortunately the new requirements apply to all schools – that includes academies, maintained schools, special schools, free schools, independent schools. But there are different requirements for primary and secondary schools. Browse our FAQs on RSE, and our 10 question quiz about statutory RSE could be a great way of helping governor’s get up to speed at the next governor’s board meeting. And remember, until the new guidance is finalised the 2000 guidance still applies.

2. Discuss and display our 12 principles poster

These principles are all based on evidence and are supported by NPSCC, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, NCB and six education unions. Download and print a copy of the poster and discuss at a SLT meeting which of the principles your school is doing well on and where any gaps are. Displaying the poster in the reception, staff room or classrooms is a great way to show that you are committed to providing excellent RSE, even if it’s still a work in progress. Our monthly bulletins are packed with practical tips about how to put each of the principles into practice. Join now to receive these and to access all members-only resources.

3. Plan training now

The quality of RSE lessons is going to rest on the quality of teaching more than anything else. We know there are hundreds of teachers who would like to become specialists in personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, of which RSE is a part. Now is the time to find out who would like to develop their career in this area and to review their CPD needs. We have put together an exciting programme of training courses and events for 2018-19 which cater for educators who are new to RSE and those with more experience wanting to gain more depth. Our training will introduce you to a fantastic range of resources from across our partners and will support you to build a RSE programme that suits your school.

4. Join us for 'Countdown to statutory RSE' 
Our new national conference 'Countdown to statutory RSE' takes place in London on Friday 30th November 2018 and will provide inspiration and practical CPD workshops tailored for teachers new to RSE and more experienced educators. We hope to see you there! Book now. 


If you take at least one of these actions now you will have quit waiting and taken a step towards providing your pupils with the high quality RSE that they deserve and need.

Lucy Emmerson
15 June 2018 and updated 28 June 2018