RSHE Review: Schools caught in the crossfire

Statutory relationships and sex education was always due to be reviewed this year. But by joining in ‘crowd-pleasing criticism’, the prime minister has put schools in the firing line, says Geoff Barton

The teaching of relationships and sex education (RSE) has been a thorny issue since it was first mooted. And it burst back into the headlines last week during Prime Minister’s Questions thanks to Conservative MP Miriam Cates.

This is what she said: “Graphic lessons on oral sex, how to choke your partner safely and 72 genders – this is what passes for relationships and sex education in British schools. Across the country, children are being subjected to lessons that are age-inappropriate, extreme, sexualising, and inaccurate, often using resources from unregulated organisations that are actively campaigning to undermine parents.”

She called on the prime minister to commission an independent inquiry into “the nature and extent of this safeguarding scandal”. In response, Rishi Sunak said he shared her concerns, and the government was “bringing forward a review of RSHE statutory guidance and will start our consultation as soon as possible”.

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