Caution urged regarding email to schools on RSE guidance

We have been made aware that a number of schools have received a message which provides inaccurate information about the non-statutory implementation guidance and training modules published by the DfE on 24 September. The message begins ‘Good morning. I’m writing regarding the Department of Education’s (DofE) new guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE), published 24th September 2020 (link below)’. It appears that this identical message has been sent to numerous schools.

The email includes a number of factual inaccuracies which could be misleading for schools — including a suggestion that the 24 September guidance and training modules replace or extend existing statutory requirements, and that schools should therefore ‘pause teaching of the RSE curriculum while you review your policy’.

The new guidance and training materials instead represent illustrative non-statutory content that schools can choose to consider when planning their statutory Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education provision. The non-statutory guidance introduction stresses that ‘Schools have the flexibility to design their own curriculum to ensure it meets the needs of pupils and the community, as well as the statutory requirements’.

The email also includes factual inaccuracies about the contents of the non-statutory guidance (and modules) itself, including that it names specific organisations or individuals that schools should avoid when choosing resources or external speakers. The guidance suggests exercising caution when choosing external contributors but lists no organisations to avoid.

Regarding the points this email makes about policy: if a school’s policy recognises statutory responsibilities then there is no requirement to ‘pause teaching’ of the curriculum nor update policy based on the non-statutory advice/training modules released on 24 September. It is however recommended that you regularly revisit your policy to ensure it is up-to-date, recognises statutory requirements, and promotes RSE/Health Education that fulfils the role of keeping your pupils safe, informed and prepared for life’s challenges and opportunities.


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