Since September 2020, all primary schools have been required to teach Relationships Education. They are also required to teach Health Education. Secondary schools are required to teach Relationships Education and Sex Education.
In March 2023 the Government announced a review into RSHE. The Church of England will work with the review as required to help ensure that children of all ages receive appropriate and high quality relationships education. This is vital for forming healthy relationships, making responsible and safe choices and navigating the complex issues they will face in today’s society.
We trust the review will reaffirm the requirement for all schools to approach RSHE in a faith sensitive and inclusive way, seeking to explain fairly the tenets and varying interpretations of religious communities on matters of sex and relationships and teach these viewpoints with respect.
The Church of England supports age-appropriate provision of sex education at primary level, and has issued a Charter for schools of all types to sign up to as they affirm the broad principles about how RSHE is taught.
The Charter is accompanied by guidance, given to help dioceses and schools as they develop policy in this area. Based on the work of the Church of England’s Pastoral Advisory Group which has set out some principles for living well together with difference and diversity and we have developed the following documents
- Relationships and Sex Education Principles and Charter
- Suggested format for parents' meetings with associated resources
- Suggested policy template
“We commend these resources and pray for families and all in our schools who have the privilege and responsibility of helping children and young people to develop the skills they need to form healthy, resilient relationships within a pluralistic society.”Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely and Lead bishop for Education at the time of the publication
For Relationships Education, schools will be required to have a policy, published on their website, setting out how they intend to approach the subject.
Any primary school choosing to teach Sex Education – which is recommended by the Department for Education but not required by the law – must have a policy on this as well and should consult parents on it.
Secondary schools will be required to have a policy, published on their website setting out how they intend to approach these subjects. They will also be required to teach Health Education.
We hope that these resources will provide useful material for schools as they develop their policy in this important area of the curriculum.
All schools are different, and their contexts and needs vary so it is suggested that meetings with parents and carers will need to be adapted to the local context and in some cases, translators may need to be deployed for full engagement to be possible.