RSE stands for Relationship and Sex Education, a subject that the UK government have made compulsory in all schools across England from September 2020. There are two components to RSE – ‘Relationship Education’ and ‘Sex Education’.

StopRSE has major concerns about RSE including:

The erosion of the parents’ rights to withdraw their child from these lessons

The pushing of political ideologies by various sex education lobby groups into the classroom

The sexualisation of children

The harm being caused to children by exposing them to concepts that are developmentally inappropriate

Introducing children to concepts that conflict with religious, moral or philosophical beliefs of their parents

Primary Schools

All primary schools in England including state, academies, special needs, private and faith schools, will have to teach Relationship Education and children cannot be withdrawn from these lessons after September 2020 (Wales 2022). 

Whilst the government has produced guidelines, schools must develop their own RSE policy and curriculum alongside consultation with parents. However these guidelines are minimal and schools are strongly encouraged to teach above and beyond what is recommended.

Primary schools are encouraged to teach sex education but it is not compulsory and if they do then parents can withdraw their child; however, many schools are including various sex education topics, such as the explicit names and images for the private parts and reproduction in other lessons such as national curriculum science.

A review of some of the resources produced by external agencies for RSE in primary schools, is deeply concerning and whilst parental pressure has succeeded in getting certain age-inappropriate programmes such as “All About Me” (read more here) that taught young children about masturbation and and so forth, removed, there still remains much content and resources that many parents believe are highly unsuitable for young children.

 It is essential that parents find out what their child is learning.

Whilst RSE becomes compulsory from September 2020; schools are encouraged to begin teaching it from now. 

Secondary School

All secondary schools in England will have to teach both components of RSE  – ‘Relationship’ and ‘Sex’ Education from September 2020 (Wales 2022). This will build on what children have learnt at primary school and will include teaching children about topics such as consent, contraception, safer-sex methods, sexually transmitted infections as well as LGBT issues, gender identity and so on.

A review of some of the RSE resources developed by outside organisations for use in schools are concerning as they seek to familiarise children with a variety of sexual acts, methods of contraception, abortion and provide inadequate coverage of the high risks involved. The “Respect Yourself ” website for children as young as 13 years old, endorsed by Warwickshire council is now currently under review (not banned) due to normalisation of pornography and perverse sexual acts (read more here).

It is important to note that schools are not obliged to use any specific RSE resources and they are free to determine and choose their own. They must also consult with parents on this matter (however parents need to be active in asking for consultation).

Whilst RSE is compulsory for all children at all secondary schools, parents have the right to ask that their child is excused from attending the sex education component of RSE until they are fifteen years old. The decision as to whether their child can be excused or not lies with the head teacher. All children will have to attend the relationship education component of RSE.