The requirement for all schools, including academies, to teach relationships education, and for all secondary schools to teach sex education, was supposed to come into force in September 2019.
Last month, education secretary Damian Hinds warned the parliamentary education committee that RSE would “probably” not become mandatory until 2020, though the new RSE curriculum would be “available” to schools from September 2019.
Now Department for Education sources familiar with the reform process have confirmed the roll-out has indeed been delayed for a year, following complaints from schools about the lack of preparation time for the reforms.
In May, Schools Week reported how compulsory SRE would “almost certainly” be delayed until 2020, after the government failed to meet a key milestone.
The DfE had promised to publish guidance in “early 2018” to aid preparations, but the response to a call for evidence on the guidance, which closed in February, has still not been published. A consultation on the draft guidance is due out this week, just days before most schools break up for the summer.
Under the workload protocol, schools must be given at least one year of lead-in time for any major curriculum change. Heads warned in May that if the final guidance was not published before the end of July, the government would have been in breach of the rule.
Schools Week understands it is this concern around the workload protocol that has prompted ministers to push the full rollout back a year.
Yesterday, The Sunday Times reported that new relationships education for primary school pupils will include lessons on consent for pupils as young as four.
“It’s vital that every child knows about their rights and that nothing should happen to them without their consent,” Hinds told the paper. “This guidance will ensure lessons teach children how to recognise when someone else has not given consent.”
The education secretary also told The Telegraph that RSE lessons will include information about the perils of social media use.
The Department for Education would not comment on the delay, but instead pointed to comments made by Hinds in a parliamentary written answer earlier this month.
“Whilst many schools will be able to adapt their existing teaching quickly, it is essential that an appropriate period is given for those schools that need more time to plan and prepare. The department will be working with schools to help them to prepare before teaching starts. This is in line with the department’s approach to any significant changes to the curriculum.
“The department will launch a consultation on the draft regulations and statutory guidance shortly and will say more about the implementation timetable at that point.”
[F.Whittaker. Schools Week. 16.7.18]