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Relationships and Sex Education Digest

May 2017

FPA urged next government to invest in high quality relationships and sex education
Sexual health charity FPA called on the next government to commit to investing in high qualityrelationships and sex education (RSE) to reduce the UK’s teenage pregnancy rate. Recently published statistics show that the UK’s teenage birth rate is one of the highest in Western Europe.


June 2017

Public Health England published statistics on STIs in England
Public Health England (PHE) published new statistics that show that there were approximately 420,000 sexually transmitted infections (STIs) reported in England in 2016. This is a decrease of 4% compared to 2015.

Terrence Higgins Trust Medical Director Dr. Michael Brady said that the rates of STIs are still unacceptably high. He welcomed the fact that relationships and sex education will be mandatory in school from 2019, but said that the subject must “include information about STI testing and LGBT relationships – not just heterosexual sex and reproduction – and be supported by easy access to good sexual health treatment and prevention services for those who need them” in order to have an effect.

Stonewall called for statutory in 2017 School Report
Stonewall published its 2017 School Report and though it showed progress regarding reduced levels of LGBT bullying in schools, some of the figures were alarming, suggesting that almost half of all LGBT pupils still face bullying at school for being LGBT, and more than two in five trans young people have tried to take their own life.

In its recommendations, Stonewall calls on the DfE to “consult on, and introduce, statutory PSHE that is inclusive of LGBT issues and of which RSE is a component.”

Written and oral questions on PSHE and SRE

  • Theresa Villiers asked whether the Secretary of State plans to publish her plans for ensuring the content of relationships education in primary schools is age appropriate. Nick Gibb answered that the Department for Education intends to begin a thorough and wide ranging engagement on both relationships education and RSE shortly, and that this will determine the content of the statutory guidance.
  • Maria Miller asked what progress is being made on regulations to make relationships and sex education compulsory. Justine Greening answered the Government will shortly set out its plan for how it will take the review forward.
  • Andrew Selous asked whether the Government plans to consult on proposed changes to relationships and sex education. Nick Gibb answered that the Department for Education will be conducting a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of RSE and relationships education, involving many stakeholders including schools and teachers, parents and pupils, safeguarding and child wellbeing experts, subject experts and voluntary organisations.
  • Diana Johnson asked what the timetable is for deciding the content of RSE, and what the Secretary of State’s policy is on the requirement for schools to teach RSE from September 2019. Nick Gibb answered that the Government will give more details about the process shortly and that intends to conduct a thorough and wide ranging engagement process to determine the content of the regulations and statutory guidance.


July 2017

Responsibility for PSHE and RSE assigned to Nick Gibb MP
It was confirmed that Nick Gibb has been given ministerial responsibility for PSHE and relationships and sex education (RSE) at the DfE as part of his role as Minister of State for School Standards. Mr. Gibb also takes on a new role as Minister for Equalities. You can find out more information here:

98% of teachers surveyed by the NUT say pupils affected by concerns around body image
The NUT conducted a one day online members’ survey of secondary school teachers on 7 July to seek views on pupils’ confidence in their body image. 492 secondary school teachers responded. Nearly all teachers, 98%, indicated that some or more of their students are affected by ‘worries about how they look’. According to the NUT, this is resulting in many pupils opting out of physical activity or suffering from eating disorders.

Public Health England CSE report highlights ‘critical role’ PSHE can play in prevention
A new report from Public Health England on child sexual exploitation (CSE) suggests that the existing body of evidence ‘repeatedly highlights the critical role of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in addressing these issues’. The report summarises the emerging evidence on CSE, and provides practice examples to support local public health leaders’ frameworks for prevention and intervention. Regarding education, the report suggests a range of studies highlight the need for ‘universal education programmes’ to address young people’s lack of understanding on the issue, and suggests an ‘on-going process’ of education and awareness (rather than discrete interventions) as well as the need to explore links with related PSHE issues such as drugs and alcohol misuse.

Written and oral questions on PSHE and SRE

  • Stella Creasy MP asked what the timetable and the commencement date is for the consultation on relationships education. Nick Gibb answered that the DfE will set out more details shortly about the process, and that they “will be conducting a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of relationships education, relationships and sex education and personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, involving a wide range of interested stakeholders.”
  • Catherine West MP asked whether the Department for Education (DfE) will consult with LGBT groups when reviewing the curriculum for RSE and whether the Government plans to include LGBT issues in RSE. Nick Gibb answered that the DfE will conduct a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of RSE and relationships education, involving a wide range of stakeholders. He added to this that the DfE will consider ways to ensure that guidance and regulations are inclusive of LGBT issues and that it will work closely with organisations such as Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust to achieve this.
  • Mark Hendrick MP asked what research has been conducted into the number of school days missed by girls living in households unable to afford female sanitary products and what guidance has been issued on the provision of such products. DfE Minister Robert Goodwill answered that no research has been conducted on this matter but that schools are encouraged in current guidance on sex and relationships education to make adequate and sensitive arrangements to help girls cope with menstruation and with requests for sanitary protection.