Schools to teach 21st century relationships and sex education– Friday 3 March 2017

This week I report on the Government’s plans for all secondary schools in England to teach relationships and sex education, £415m funding for schools to improve facilities and encourage healthier lifestyles and two new DfE guidance documents on managing staffing and employment issues.

Schools to teach 21st century relationships and sex education
On Wednesday, the Government tabled amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill which will make it a requirement that all secondary schools in England teach relationships and sex education (RSE).

The amendments also allow the Government to make regulations requiring personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) to be taught in all schools in England – primary, secondary, maintained and academy – in future. Currently only pupils attending local authority maintained secondary schools are guaranteed to be offered current sex and relationships education, and PSHE is only mandatory at independent schools. Neither are currently required to be taught in academies.

The Government is proposing the introduction of the new subject of ‘relationships education’ in primary school and renaming the secondary school subject ‘relationships and sex education’, to emphasise the central importance of healthy relationships.

Full public consultation will take place later this year and its expected the new curriculum will be taught in schools as soon as September 2019. Schools will have flexibility over how they deliver these subjects, so they can develop an integrated approach that is sensitive to the needs of the local community; and, in the case of faith schools, in accordance with their faith.

Schools to benefit from £415m to transform facilities and encourage healthy lifestyles
The Education Secretary, Justine Greening, has announced £415m funding to boost school facilities and help pupils benefit from healthier, more active lifestyles. The Healthy Pupils Capital Programme will be available to all primary, secondary and sixth form colleges in 2018/9 and will be paid from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, introduced by the Government last year to tackle childhood obesity.

Under the new programme, schools will be able to use the funding to support physical education (PE), after-school activities and healthy eating. Schools will also be able to use it to improve facilities for children with physical conditions or support young people struggling with mental health issues.

Local authorities and larger MATs will receive an allocation for schools and will make decisions locally on how this money is invested. Smaller MATs, individual academies and sixth-form centres will be able to bid for grants for specific one-off projects.

DfE Guidance on managing staffing and employment issues
This week the DfE published two new guidance documents:

  • Staffing and employment advice (replacing the 2009 ‘Guidance on managing staff in schools’) to help schools with staffing and employment issues, and to inform their decision making.
  • Flexible Working in schools to help schools consider how best to encourage, support and enable flexible working requests.

Whilst helpful documents they don’t replace HR advice obtained from the school’s HR providers.