In March, the education secretary Justine Greening announced that from September 2019 the teaching of sex education will be compulsory in all primary and secondary schools in England. Currently, sex education is only compulsory in council-run schools.
Under the move, children from the age of four will be taught about building healthy relationships and staying safe.
Being developed by the charity Coram Life Education (CLE) and funded by Ecclesiastical Insurance, the Relationships Education programme will comprise of lessons plans, activities and teacher and parent guidance along the themes of relationships and emotional health, body ownership, puberty and reproduction.
It will be available in September and rolled out through CLE’s SCARF programme – an online resource to support learning, which all schools can sign up to.
The Relationships and Education programme has been informed by findings from a survey and focus groups of 85 head teachers, PSHE co-ordinators and teachers responsible for teaching SRE throughout the UK, undertaken by CLE and Ecclesiastical, which revealed that more than a third of schools need additional support to teach SRE.
The findings were launched at an event at the House of Lords yesterday (11 July).
The biggest issue schools said they face is friendship issues (83 per cent), and while the majority are confident teaching about friendships and family, they want more support to teach puberty, reproduction and feelings, and staying safe and consent.
Two-thirds of schools said they need more guidance on statutory requirements and one in three primary schools need more help with identifying children’s needs in relation to SRE. Three-quarters said they need more advice on consulting parents about SRE.
One teacher said, ‘I’d like an easy and fun way of teaching the sensitive area. SRE is embarrassing for the children. I’d like plans and resources that are easily accessible and easy to follow and teach.’
Harriet Gill, managing director of Coram’s education programmes, said, ‘Only four years ago, Ofsted stated that primary schools were “leaving pupils ill-prepared for physical and emotional changes during puberty often experienced before children reach secondary school".
'We believe this programme is an important step forward in meeting children and young people's needs, and entitlement, to education in healthy friendships and relationships, puberty and reproduction, staying safe and consent.’