Relationship and Sex Education (RSE): The Ultimate Guide

Relationship and Sex Education (RSE): The Ultimate Guide

From September 2020, relationships and sex education will become mandatory in all secondary schools in England.

The basic premise of this introduction is to allow young people to know more about sex and relationships from a young age. It will help young people make better decisions about their bodies, choices and actions.

The Legislation

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduces new legislation on relationships and sex education in schools. In July 2018 the Government set out plans for implementation encouraging schools that are ready to start teaching the new curriculum from September 2019 and enabling schools needing more support to use the additional time to prepare to teach high quality RSE from September 2020.

Current laws on RSE

Currently maintained secondary schools have to provide sex education but the only topic they must cover is HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Maintained primary and secondary schools must follow the National Curriculum, which includes some aspects of sex education in Science.

Maintained primary and secondary schools must also have an up-to-date policy that describes the content and organisation of RSE taught outside the Science Curriculum. If the decision is taken not to teach RSE outside the Science Curriculum this should also be documented in the policy. It is the responsibility of the schools governing body to ensure that the policy is developed and made available to parents. Parents have a right to withdraw their children from RSE taught outside the Science Curriculum.

All state-funded schools must pay due regard to the Government guidance on Sex and Relationships Education, currently this is the DfEE guidance published in 2000. The guidance recommends that schools teach the broader subject of sex and relationships education – and advise that this be taught as part of personal, social and health education (PSHE).

New requirements on RSE

Proposed new guidance and regulations will require that all secondary schools teach RSE and all primary schools teach Relationships Education and recommends that all primary schools have a programme of sex education. 

The agenda for change stems from the UN with hopes to make it worldwide by 2030.

Whats being proposed

Primary Schools

All schools providing primary education must teach relationships education. This includes:

  • Local Authority maintained schools (Most schools)
  • Independent schools and academies
  • Free schools
  • Special schools and Faith schools
  • Pupil referral units.

Parents do not have the right to withdraw pupils from relationships education.

However, Primary schools are not required to teach sex education. But the the Department of Education recommends that all primary schools have a sex education program of work.

Parents will have the right to withdraw their children from sex education. Most schools will have their own policy on what/how much they ill teach, therefore important to consult with your schools.

Secondary schools

All schools providing secondary education must teach relationships and sex education. This includes:

  • Local Authority maintained schools (Most schools)
  • Independent schools and academies
  • Free schools
  • Special schools and Faith schools
  • Pupil referral units.

Parents do not have the right to withdraw pupils from relationships education. But Parents do have the right to withdraw their child from some aspects of sex education. This does not include what is taught as part of the science curriculum.

Before granting a request to withdraw a child, the head teacher should discuss the value and importance of RSE with parents.

A child can request sex education without their parent’s consent from three terms before their 16th birthday.

Ofsted have recommended for the following to be delivered as a minimum:


  • Consent, Trust, Honesty, Respect, Equality, Communication.
  • Supporting healthy relationships
  • Identifying unhealthy relationships
  • Long term relationships & Marriage, Family life.

Sexual & Reproductive Health

  • Types of STI’s (including HIV/AIDS), how they are transmitted, how they can be prevented.
  • Types of Contraception, how they are used, how effective they are:
  • Sexuality & Sexual Pleasure
  • Sexual myths and stereotypes
  • Accessing local services
  • Pregnancy decision making
  • Abortion
  • Alcohol or Drugs and their effect on the body in relation to sexual activity.

Sex & The Media & Media Safety

  • Body Image
  • Internet & Phone Safety
  • Pornography
  • Sex In the Media
  • Sexting

Sexual Bullying & Violence

  • Gender and Sexual Stereotypes
  • Sexual Bullying
  • Homophobia and Transphobia
  • Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault & Rape
  • Domestic Violence
  • Consent
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Equalities

Pregnancy and Parenthood

Puberty & Reproduction

Confidentiality, Safeguarding, Sex and the Law

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Click here to view a sample RSE curriculum chart.

The Islamic dilemma

Though the promotion of the change is in light of helping young people make better informed decisions, the dilemma Muslims have is, for one some topics relating to sex and relationships are taught at a very young age and the other against the teaching of the religion.

Some of which include the promotion of homosexuality, transgender-ism, sexual self-pleasure. It is alarming for some Muslim families to know their children are being taught it’s ok to be gay or a member of the opposite sex.

Although the government are not laying a mandatory plan on what to teach, they are making recommendations and recommending organisations, one of which is, on inspection this site promotes BDSM and self-pleasure for children.

The majority of Muslims do not have issues with homosexuality or transgender choices, and do not support any form of abuse or discrimination towards such people.

It also undermines parental responsibility on issues realting to sex and relationships. It is evident many teens fall to pregnancy, HIV and abuse. However some parents feel they should dictate what their children know and at what stage.

The Association of Muslim Schools have come up with their own material which has is still being proposed.

Our View

It’s very important to place the tenets of the faith above all else. It is unacceptable for the promotion of anything against Islamic core beliefs.

It must also be said, young people are in a crisis. Many parents are withdrawn from their children’s lives and ultimately it leads to vulnerable children. Many young people say they would have made better decisions if only they knew more. That actions only took place because everyone else was doing it. This crisis also spans in to the live of young Muslims in this country.

Another concern is the fact that child psychology has been disregarded with the changes. Ministers have simply thought of phasing in sex education from a very young age, not considering child growth and how children learn. Children are like sponges, that is why it is important for every parent to look after their flock!

Each one of you is a shepherd and each one of you will be asked about his flock.

Al Bukhari

A balance must be in place. Regardless of what is to come, parents need to play a more active role in the family. From a young age parents should be talking about love and relationships to children and then phasing them into a broader understanding. This is also a note to Mosques to play a more active role. Young people need to feel engaged with the religion and have a sense of identity, so that they do not look for it elsewhere.

Charity begins at home, and playing an active role in your child’s life is charity.


There are two ways to take action right now. Firstly contact your school and find out what their policy will be and how it will affect your child. Also take time to lobby your MP, if you are against the proposals then the policy can still be changed.

Click here to download a letter that you can write to your school.

Click here to email your MP. This template only requires your postcode to find your MP.

The official link for Government petition.

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