From Sept 2020 Relationships (primary), RSE (secondary), and Health Education became statutory aspects of the school curriculum in all state-funded schools. Sex education at primary remains recommended but non-statutory. Whilst PSHE has not achieved statutory status across the board, Health and Relationships/Relationships and Sex Education constitute a significant part of PSHE. PSHE remains a distinct discipline to be taught as part of the school curriculum and includes the non-statutory element - Economic education. Schools have a defined statutory duty to provide Careers and Financial education.
Visit DfE statutory guidance for schools (gov.uk)
Visit Guidance for teaching about relationships, sex, and health education - September 2020 (gov.uk) which contains further information on curriculum development, engaging with parents and carers, and a series of training modules for teachers – Primary, Secondary, and SEND.
Please also see DfE Keeping Children Safe In Education (Download) from 1st September 2022, where references to teaching RSHE/ PSHE are part of the school’s statutory duty with regards to safeguarding.
New additional guidance on teaching about sexual harassment and harmful sexual behaviours is due to be published by the DfE in September 2022.
Current DfE Guidance
- PSHE is currently a non-statutory subject however, Relationships (Primary) and Relationships Sex Education (Secondary) and Health Education are statutory elements of the curriculum, and core elements within the PSHE curriculum are statutory for years 1 - 11.
- PSHE/ statutory RSHE contributes to the Ofsted judgement on Personal Development
- PSHE supports the teaching of Character Education. Please see DfE character-education-framework (gov.uk)
- PSHE supports Equalities education. Please see DfE inspecting teaching of the protected characteristics in schools (gov.uk)
- Schools have a duty to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum and one that supports the personal development, behaviour, welfare, and safeguarding of pupils (Education Act 2002 and Academies Act 2010).
- In January 2014, the Department for Education updated its Timeline of mandatory information for schools (gov.uk), making it clear that a school’s PSHE curriculum should be published and available for parents to view and should contain the same level of detail as for other curriculum subjects.
- The introduction to the national curriculum states that all state schools ‘should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice'. DfE guidance also states that PSHE education is ‘an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education’.
- Schools are free to determine what resources they use to cover the PSHE curriculum and how this provision is organised. A planned and developmental programme of study across all year groups with lessons part of the timetable is recommended.
DfE guidance: Relationships and Sex Education Sept 2020
- Relationships Education is statutory for years 1 - 6 and needs to be age and context-appropriate. Schools are expected to work sensitively with their communities whilst maintaining an inclusive approach in order to fulfill their duty with regard to the 2010 Equalities Act. Relationships Education must comply with the new statutory guidance. Please visit DfE Relationships and sex-education and health education (gov.uk)
- Sex education remains recommended but not compulsory for primary schools and is recognised as an important part of PSHE education, providing a reliable source of information on Sex Education and is protective in terms of safeguarding and reporting concerns
- Primary schools must consult with parents and publish their Relationships Education policy or RSE policy (combined Relationships and non-statutory Sex Education). Schools should consult with parents when reviewing and updating policies. For policy writing guidance and support please contact Carol Stottor by emailing Carol.Stottor@buckinghamshire.gov.uk
- Any school providing Sex Education must consult with parents/carers and publish its Sex Education/RSE Policy, including information for parents/carers of their right to withdraw.
- There is no parental right to withdraw from any aspect of Relationships Education, PSHE, or the Science curriculum
- Schools are required to work collaboratively with parents to ensure they are well informed about when and how Relationships Education and Sex Education are being delivered, and how they can support their child. There are leaflets to support parents/carers. Please visit DfE relationships sex and health education guides for schools (gov.uk)
- It is vital that pupils are taught to recognise how to keep themselves safe, report any form of abuse, and access support if required
- Schools are required to provide age and context-appropriate provision for their pupils by delivering a planned and sequential curriculum to meet the outcomes for Relationships Education by the end of year 6
- Relationships and Sex Education are statutory in all maintained secondary schools. Relationships and Sex Education must comply with the new statutory guidance. Visit DfE relationships and sex education and health education (gov.uk)
- From September 2020 parents have the right to withdraw students from Sex Education until the young person is within three terms of their 16th birthday, after which students can choose to opt into Sex Education
- There is no parental right to withdraw from any other aspect of Relationships Education, PSHE, or the Science curriculum
- When any school provides sex education they must have regard to the current Relationships, Sex and Health Education guidance published by the DfE. This has now replaced the previous Sex Education guidance published in 2000
- Schools are required to provide age and context-appropriate provision for their pupils by delivering a planned and sequential curriculum to meet the outcomes for RSE by the end of years 6 and 11
- Schools are required to work collaboratively with parents who should be consulted with and be well informed about when what and how Relationships Education and Sex Education are being delivered. It is vital to work with parents to support their understanding of what is being covered and how they can support their children. Visit DfE relationships sex and health education guides for schools (gov.uk)
- It is vital that pupils are taught to recognise how to keep themselves safe and can report any form of abuse and are able to access support from trusted agencies and helplines if required
- Secondary schools must consult with parents and publish their RSE policy and continue to consult when the policy is reviewed or updated. For policy writing guidance and support please contact Carol Stottor by emailing Carol.Stottor@buckinghamshire.gov.uk
DfE guidance: Health Education September 2020
- Health Education is mandated for all pupils in years 1 -11
- Puberty is part of statutory Health Education. Parents/carers are not able to withdraw their children from this aspect of PSHE
- Schools are not required to have a policy for Health Education. Health Education is best referenced and included in the school’s PSHE policy and evidenced in short, medium, and long-term planning
- It is vital pupils are taught how and when to access help if they need it and trusted people to approach. The school signposts pupils to safe sources of information, reputable organisations, and helplines to access if required
- Schools are required to provide age and context-appropriate provision for their pupils by delivering a planned and sequential curriculum to meet the outcomes for Health Education by the end of years 6 and 11
Highly recommended resources
The PSHE Association has published an updated Key stage 1-5 programme of study which is free to download. Please visit PSHE Association programme of study 2020 (PSHE Association)