Pupils in classroom

Experts contribute to government review on RSHE guidance

The Department for Education has announced that an independent expert advisory panel has been formed, with the aim of advising on the review of the Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum, as part of plans to ensure that RSHE is taught in the best way across England.

Expert advice from the panel will be provided to the Education Secretary on what is appropriate for children to learn, and at what age. This will be done through the consideration of Ofsted evidence on what is happening in schools at the moment, allowing the panel to ascertain where age ratings may be needed and reassure parents that schools will not teach disturbing or inappropriate content.

This announcement follows the Education Secretary writing to all schools, in March, to reminding them that parents should be able to view all curriculum materials, especially for sensitive topics such as RHSE.

Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary, said:

“The wellbeing and safeguarding of children is our absolute priority, and I share the concerns of parents and teachers about reports that inappropriate lessons are being taught in schools.

“The vast majority of teachers do an incredible job navigating these complex and sensitive issues. But the review of the statutory guidance – with the help of this expert panel – will provide clear safeguards against children being taught concepts they are too young to understand or that are inappropriate for their age,

“I’m determined to bring forward new guidance as quickly as possible, and schools should continue to engage with parents on lessons that cover the teacher of sensitive issues.”

The panel is made up of experts who were picked based on their level of relevant experience and expertise. Those experts are:

  • Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Imperial College London and the government’s first ever Women’s Health Ambassador
  • Sir Hamid Patel, Chief Executive of Star Academies
  • Helena Brothwell, Regional Director of School Improvement for David Ross Academy Trust
  • Alasdair Henderson, barrister specialising in public law, human rights and equality law
  • Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families in England

This review, the first into the statutory guidance since it came into force in 2020, will give an opportunity to consider whether guidance is covering the right topics whist offering teaches clarity on how they can teach sensitive subjects. It will also serve to ensure that priority issues are given the right amount of attention, including new or additional content on mental health, suicide prevention, vaping and tackling violence against women and girls.

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