The aim of RSE is to give young people the information they need to help them develop healthy, nurturing relationships of all kinds, not just intimate relationships.
It should enable them to know what a healthy relationship looks like and what makes a good friend, a good colleague and a successful marriage or other type of committed relationship.
It should also cover contraception, developing intimate relationships and resisting pressure to have sex (and not applying pressure). It should teach what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in relationships.
For the first time, menopause will be taught in English schools as part of the new Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum.
The new curriculum will be compulsory from September 2020. Schools should start teaching from that date if they meet the statutory requirements. If they are not ready, or are unable to meet the requirements, they should begin teaching by at least the start of the summer term 2021.
PDF, 578KB, 50 pages
Annex A: regulations for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education
Annex B: resources for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education
Annex C: cross government strategies for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education
Implementation of relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education 2020 to 2021
This is statutory guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) issued under section 80A of the Education Act 2002 and section 403 of the Education Act 1996.
Schools must have regard to the guidance 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.
This statutory guidance applies to all schools, and is for:
- governing bodies of maintained schools (including schools with a sixth-form) and non-maintained special schools
- trustees or directors of academies and free schools
- proprietors of independent schools (including academies and free schools)
- management committees of pupil referral units (PRUs)
- teachers, other school staff and school nurses
- headteachers, principals and senior leadership teams
- diocese and other faith representatives
- relevant local authority staff for reference
Schools that adopt the new curriculum early will still need to meet the current sex and relationship education statutory guidance.
Guides to help schools communicate with parents of primary and secondary age pupils are available at Relationships, sex and health education: guides for schools.
Published 25 June 2019
Last updated 9 July 2020 + show all updates
Added 'Implementing relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education 2020 to 2021'.
Added a link to the sex and relationship education statutory guidance.
Added link to guides for parents.
Relationships (and Sex) Education and Health Education Consultation Outcome
25 Feb 2019: The Education Secretary Damian Hinds has confirmed plans for reforms to the RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) and health education curriculum to be implemented in schools from September 2020.
The new guidance will see children being taught about their mental and physical wellbeing as well as online safety, with content always being age appropriate. Also covered across the curriculum will be LGBT+ issues, respectful relationships and consent.
The new guidance also stipulates that secondary schools should address the physical and emotional damage caused by FGM, raise awareness of the support that is available, and ensure pupils know that FGM is against the law.
The new guidance follows an extensive call for evidence and three-month consultation on the draft regulations and guidance which received over 11,000 responses from charities, teaching unions and more.
Although all schools will teach from the new guidance from 2020, schools who are ready will have the option to deliver the curriculum from September 2019.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
Growing up and adolescence are hard enough, but the internet and social media add new pressures that just weren’t there even one generation ago. So many things about the way people interact have changed, and this new world, seamless between online and offline, can be difficult to navigate. Almost twenty years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on.
Although sex education is only mandatory to teach at secondary, it must be grounded in a firm understanding and valuing of positive relationships, and respect for others, from primary age. In turn positive relationships are connected with good mental health, which itself is linked with physical wellbeing. So it is appropriate to make health education universal alongside relationships and sex education.
I’m very grateful to the many people who have fed into developing these new programmes, to equip youngsters better to deal with the world of today. It starts as it always did with the importance of friendship, kindness, taking turns; as well as learning about the pitfalls and dangers, including on the internet. It will help children learn how to look after themselves, physically and mentally, and the importance of getting away from the screen and the headphones. And it can help young people be resilient as they chart a course through an ever more complex world.
ummary of the key changes:
- LGBT Inclusivity: we have made clearer that teaching about LGBT is expected during pupils’ school years, but schools should decide at what age it is appropriate.
- Right to Withdraw: we have retained the new proposed right but clarified how the decisions of headteachers should take into account SEND and how decisions should be recorded.
- FGM and other forms of abuse: we have included teaching about FGM, forced marriage and rape in secondary schools
- Excessive use of electronic devices/ rationing time online: we have included teaching on the excessive use of electronic devices and rationing time spent online, to protect pupils’ physical and mental health.
- Character and virtues: we have clarified the values and personal traits that will give pupils the character to persevere, manage adversity and make a positive contribution to society.
- Other additions to Health Education: We have included facts about stem cell donation alongside blood and organ donation and clarified that at menstruation and menstrual wellbeing will be taught primary.
Download the full outcome:
Ref: DFE-00053-2019PDF, 534KB, 40 pages
Detail of outcome
Summary of responses we received, along with the government’s response outlining the next steps.
DfE is seeking views on draft regulations, statutory guidance and a regulatory impact assessment for relationships and sex education and health education.
This consultation ran from to
DfE is proposing that schools are required to teach relationships education at primary school, relationships and sex education at secondary school and health education at all state-funded schools.
The draft regulations and associated statutory guidance build on the findings from the call for evidence and DfE’s engagement with a wide range of expert organisations and interested parties.
The responses to the consultation will help inform any further refining of the draft regulations and statutory guidance before the regulations are put before Parliament and the guidance finally published.
Updated draft guidance: relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education
PDF, 991KB, 50 pages
Ref: DFE-00051-2019PDF, 1.2MB, 27 pages
Equality impact assessment: relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education
Ref: DFE-00052-2019PDF, 346KB, 20 pages
Updated draft regulations: relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education
PDF, 486KB, 6 pages
Published 19 July 2018
Last updated 25 February 2019 + show all updates
- Published consultation response and added the equality assessment. Updated the impact assessment, draft legislation and draft guidance.
- First published.