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19 July 2018
By Rebecca Avery

New Relationships and Health Education Draft Guidance Published by DfE

The DfE have today published draft guidance for governing bodies, proprietors, head teachers, principals, senior leadership teams and  teachers to ensure that educational settings are able to prepare children and young people for life in the modern world.

All schools will be required to teach children about good physical and mental health, how to stay safe on and offline, and the importance of healthy relationships. Under the proposals, all pupils will study compulsory health education as well as new reformed Relationships Education in primary school and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary school. The guidance will become compulsory in all schools from September 2020. Materials will be made ready and available from September 2019 to enable schools to prepare to teach the new subjects.

Under the updated guidance (available as a draft here), teachers will talk to primary school pupils in an age appropriate way about the features of healthy friendships, family relationships and other relationships they are likely to encounter. At secondary school, teachers will build on the foundation of Relationships Education in primary and, at the appropriate time, extend teaching to include intimate relationships as well.

At both primary and secondary, pupils will learn about staying safe online and how to use technology safely, responsibly and respectfully. Lessons will also cover how to keep personal information private, and help young people navigate the virtual world, challenge harmful content and balance online and offline worlds.

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds said: ‘I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world. Part of this is making sure they are informed about how to keep themselves safe and healthy and have good relationships with others. Many of today’s problems did not exist when we last gave schools guidance on how to teach Relationships and Sex Education 18 years ago. The action we’re taking is important to help support teachers and schools design a curriculum that will enrich their pupils in an age appropriate way.’

The new guidance will now be subject to a further 12-week consultation on the content and how the subjects are taught; 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. Educational settings may wish to respond to the consultation to ensure their views are included.