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Schools “concerned” about Relationships, Sex and Health Education changes

New research by Headway Education, a social enterprise established to help provide children, and those who teach them, with the most up-to-date, sophisticated, high quality and engaging materials possible, has revealed that schools are growing increasingly concerned that they are not equipped to deliver the requirements of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum from 2020.

In September next year, Relationships Education will become compulsory for all pupils in primary schools, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) mandatory within secondary schools, and Health Education compulsory in all schools. However, in a survey of 168 headteachers, other senior leaders and class teachers undertaken in January and February 2019, 66% of respondents said they were “concerned or very concerned” about funding to support the new curriculum. A further 60% reported being concerned or very concerned about the need for high-quality resources, finding time to teach these subjects (54%), teacher training (52%) and parental support (39%).

Although the majority of respondents knew about the new curriculum, 36% were “vaguely aware or had little or no awareness” about the expectations around Health Education and even less about Relationships Education and RSE (34% each). There was an appetite for training, with 59% saying they would be “likely or very likely” to undertake an online programme to support their understanding of each subject. Around 35% of schools said they would have to invest in additional resources.

Schools were asked how well PSHE (as currently the most commonly used term for these subjects) was embedded in their educational Schools “concerned” about Relationships, Sex and Health Education changessetting. Whilst 91% “agree or strongly agree” that their pupils generally enjoy participating in PSHE, that PSHE is at the heart of our curriculum (82%) and that PSHE is a timetabled lesson every week or at least every other week (81%), other responses were less positive. Around 57% of respondents “disagree or strongly disagree” that their school follows a locally agreed syllabus or has invested in a nationally recognised programme (56%).

Ken Pritchard, Managing Director of Headway Education, said: “There are clearly high levels of concern regarding preparation for the new subjects. In particular, teacher training, the issue of funding and the need for high-quality resources are the main reasons behind this concern. Results show that over a third of schools are already certain they will need new resources to ensure they meet the new requirements. Whilst the majority of respondents know about upcoming change, there is still work to be done.”

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