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Jack Brooke-Battersby
By Jack Brooke-Battersby

Senior Staff Writer

10 March 2020

| | 3 min read

Education

Council welcomes new statutory guidance around relationships and sex education in schools

New guidance around Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) which will become statutory in September 2020 has been met with the approval of senior councillors.

Newcastle Civic Centre
Newcastle Civic Centre

Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for public health, Cllr John-Paul Stephenson, delivered a motion to full council last week to formally welcome the new guidance.

From September, a mandatory new curriculum will come into effect instructing all schools to teach relationships education and health education, with secondary schools being required to teach relationships and sex education.

Cllr Stephenson’s motion noted that:

  • RSE will enable children and young people to build healthy relationships, stay safe both on and offline, help them to understand the world in which they are growing up, as well as emphasise the importance of equality, empathy and respect for each other;

  • many schools in Newcastle are already providing excellent relationships and sex education as part of their role as a Healthy School and in their responsibility for developing pupils’ personal, social and emotional learning.

The motion, which was seconded by Deputy Leader Cllr Joyce McCarty, resolved to:

•             Welcome the statutory guidance for RSE;

•             Support the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender content in the new guidance to deliver an LGBT-inclusive curriculum;

•             Work in partnership to support schools with sessions for sharing best practice, specialist RSE and other support on RSE;

•             Develop a Gold Standard for RSE to support excellent, evidence-based practice.

Cllr Stephenson said: “It is vitally important that children of all ages are given the necessary education around healthy behaviours so they can be safe, healthy and happy as they grow up. If children aren’t able to get reliable information from their teachers then they’ll seek it from other sources that won’t necessarily be factual.

“I’m really pleased that my fellow councillors have given their backing to supporting schools with their duty to teach these subjects, which will enable children and young people to build healthy relationships, stay safe both on and offline, help them to understand the world in which they are growing up, as well as emphasise the importance of equality, empathy and respect for each other.

 “As the first ever local authority to be named as Stonewall’s number one employer in its Top 100 Workplace Equality Index, it’s equally pleasing to see LGBT content included in the guidance to help schools deliver a curriculum that is inclusive of everyone.”

Several schools in the city have been operating under the new guidance since September 2019, having successfully applied to the Department for Education to become Early Adopter schools. These schools will lead in the development of resources, training and support for other schools and feed back to DfE.

A lot of work has already taken place to support the city’s schools to prepare for the introduction of the new curriculum, while a conference is being held at Newcastle Civic Centre later this month to deliver more guidance to education professionals.

The Sex Education Forum, in association with Newcastle City Council, will be holding the ‘Countdown to Statutory RSE North East’ conference on Thursday March 26, to deliver further advice on curriculum design and teaching approaches, including engaging with parents and carers.

Read more about the statutory guidance here and see frequently asked questions here.