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Consultation on relationships education open

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consultation, sex and relationships education, schools, draft regulations and guidance. Department for Education,The UK government has released its draft regulations and guidance on sex and relationship education in schools.

The consultation on this is open until 7 November 2018. Please consider responding.

The government is now seeking views on the draft regulations, statutory guidance, and regulatory impact assessment relating to Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 placed a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to make the new subjects of Relationships Education at primary and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at secondary compulsory through regulations.

The Act also provides a power for the Secretary of State to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE), or elements of the subject, mandatory in all schools.

The Department for Education said it has ‘engaged thoroughly with a wide range of interested organisations and conducted a call for evidence on the content of the subjects, and the status of PSHE.

And, it said, ‘the findings gathered from the process have informed the drafting of the regulations, statutory guidance and regulatory impact assessment, on which the department is now consulting. This includes the department’s decision to make Health Education compulsory, not all of PSHE.’

The Department for Education has now opened a consultation asking for views on these draft regulations and statutory guidance relating to Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education, and whether the statutory guidance provides sufficient information and support to schools in teaching the subjects.

The consultation also asks for views on the regulatory impact assessment relating to the subjects.

The responses to this consultation will help the department finalise the draft regulations and statutory guidance before the regulations are put before Parliament and the guidance finally published.

To take part, click here.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) and its members, and others who do frontline work supporting victims of abuse, have campaigned for compulsory Relationship and Sex Education for years.

Responding to the release of this draft guidance on what schools should cover in Relationships and Sex Education, Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:  “We know that establishing healthy attitudes to sex and relationships at a young age is one of the best ways to try to prevent abuse in the long term.

“Two years ago many were outraged when the extent of sexual harassment and violence in schools was revealed by a committee of MPs, and in response the government committed to introducing compulsory Relationships and Sex Education.

“We welcome the clear inclusion in the draft guidance of the need to teach about different forms of abuse of women and girls, including sexual violence and harassment, FGM and coercive control.

“It is also clear that the law should be taught, and that schools should take the Equality Act into account when developing teaching in this area.

“We appreciate the reference to ‘whole school approach’ which ensure school bullying and equality policies are fully aligned with the teaching of RSE.

“We are concerned about, and will be asking the government to reconsider, the suggested regulations for primary schools, which are inadequate and vague on obligations to teach about relationships, respect, boundaries and the law.

“The document acknowledges that information and good teaching are critical to preventing abuse but fails to go the distance required for pupils in primary schools.

“While it is good to see acknowledged that parents may not have the right to withdraw children and young people from Sex Education lessons indefinitely, we feel this is an area where the guidance does not go far enough.

“We urge the government to reconsider these sections, to centre children’s rights, and to be clear that parents have no entitlement to stop children receiving critical education which can keep them and others safe.

#MeToo should have been a wake-up call.

“Statistics released by the ONS recently revealed that more than 150,000 people experienced rape and serious sexual violence in the last year.

“Sexual harassment and violence is endemic in our society and for too many children we’re leaving it to the internet to teach them about sex and relationships.

“It is essential that the government stops dragging its feet and schools are compelled to introduce effective relationships and sex education as a matter of urgency.”

The consultation on the draft guidance closes on 7 November 2018. To read it, and to comment, click here.

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