Back to top

Guide to the RSHE consultation

11 June 2024

A public consultation on the Government’s draft RSHE (relationships, sex and health education) guidance is running from 16 May to 11 July 2024. This is an important opportunity for young people, educators, parents and carers and members of the public to review the proposals and help shape the final statutory guidance. 

Our response to the consultation

Sex Education Forum has shared the answers we plan to submit, along with our justifications in a guide available to download below. Some of the key points we’re making in our consultation response are that:

  1. Regular updates to the RSHE guidance are needed because of the pace of change in society. Statutory RSHE started less than five years ago, so it’s also helpful to review how schools are getting on with using the 2019 guidance, and understand what’s working and what schools may be finding harder to put into practice.   
  2. Engaging with parents and carers about RSE is valuable because it helps families to understand how RSE is taught and invites families to take a role in contributing to their child’s RSE at home.
  3. We are very concerned that the proposed introduction of age limits on educational content would make children more vulnerable to forms of abuse and harm that we know, from research data, impacts children at young ages. Instead of age limits we would like to see information about how to sequence learning to create an age appropriate preventative RSHE curriculum.
  4. There is less integration of LGBT topics within the new draft proposals compared with the 2019 guidance, and a regression to a more optional approach to LGBT inclusion. 
  5. The proposed ban on teaching about the broader concept of gender identity, would set a precedent for banning topics in the curriculum because of their complexity or contested nature, and would make it difficult for teachers to address overlapping issues including gender reassignment, gender stereotypes and gender-based violence.
  6. We agree with the new topics proposed being added into RSHE. However, training should be made available to schools both to support them with the implementation of these changes and with the existing topics.
  7. There is an established evidence base on effective RSE in support of participatory, interactive teaching methods; the development of skills (such as communication skills, negotiation, interpersonal skills) as well as knowledge; and addressing psychosocial factors -  see RSE: The Evidence (SEF, 2022) for a summary of international research. This should be referenced in the guidance.
  8. Children and young people’s views and experiences of RSE are not acknowledged in the draft guidance.

How to take part in the consultation

The public consultation on the RSHE guidance is only open for eight weeks in total, compared to the standard 12 weeks, which the 2019 guidance was open for. The consultation closes on 11 July, so there isn’t much time. 

Anyone can take part including young people. Answers can be provided on behalf of an organisation or an individual.

It is important that you answer the questions for yourself. Any copy and pasted wording will be discounted. 

  • If you have 10 minutes
    Answer the consultation by responding to the Yes/No questions. At the end, include a comment to personalise your response. This could be your view on why RSHE is important.
  • If you have 30 minutes to an hour
    Use our guide to help inform your personalised responses to the questions. Be sure not to copy and paste from our guide. 

Guiding you through the consultation

Our full guide goes through all the consultation questions, explaining our answers and the reasoning behind them. It is based on what we know about RSE from research evidence and the views of young people. It aims to make it easier to get started and make an informed and personalised response.  

We have also produced an Easy Read guide to the consultation, to support young people and adults with SEND to understand the review and have a voice in the consultation.

We strongly encourage you to personalise your response to include evidence such as your views, your lived experience (and that of your children or relatives, service users etc.), data and statistics from your school, local area or community. 

Links to the draft guidance and consultation 

  • The full draft RSHE guidance is available from website here
  • Respond to the consultation via links here 

The Sex Education Forum guide to the RSHE consultation is available to download below.

Remember, the consultation closes on 11 July 2024.