Hinds unveils training plan for schools ahead of relationships and sex education rollout

Schools will get access to a £6 million training and support package ahead of the implementation of mandatory new relationships, sex and health education lessons.

The three subjects will become compulsory in all secondary schools, while relationships and health education will have to be taught in all primary schools from next September.

The allocation of funding comes in the wake of fears about the ability of under-pressure schools to cope with the new requirements, which have already had to be delayed for a year because schools felt ill-prepared.

Justine Greening, the former education secretary, announced in 2017 that relationships and sex education would become statutory for all schools from 2019. At the moment, academies can opt out of teaching sex education because they don’t follow the national curriculum.

But last year, Schools Week revealed the reforms had been pushed back until 2020 following complaints from schools that they would not have enough time to implement them.

Later today, the Department for Education will publish finalised guidance for schools on what they will be expected to teach about relationships, sex and health from next year. A consultation on a draft version of the guidance was launched last July.

Ahead of the release of the document, Damian Hinds, the education secretary, has revealed that £6 million will be allocated in 2019-20 for a school support package to cover training and resources “to ensure teachers are well-prepared ahead of the subjects becoming mandatory in 2020”.

Training – either online or face-to-face – will be offered to teachers “who might need it”, though the government hasn’t said how many will benefit.

The DfE will also provide support to “early-adopter schools” – those institutions that want to implement the guidance from this September. They will then share best-practice and lessons learned with those schools waiting until next year.

“I’m very grateful to the many people who have fed into developing these new programmes, to equip youngsters better to deal with the world of today,” Hinds said.

“It starts as it always did with the importance of friendship, kindness, taking turns; as well as learning about the pitfalls and dangers, including on the internet.

“It will help children learn how to look after themselves, physically and mentally, and the importance of getting away from the screen and the headphones. And it can help young people be resilient as they chart a course through an ever more complex world.”

The new health education curriculum will focus on promoting the “positive link” between physical and mental health. The government also wants pupils to be prepared for the “opportunities and challenges” of an “ever more complex” world.

Primary school pupils will learn that mental wellbeing “is a normal part of daily life”, and about self-care issues like getting enough sleep and spending time outside. They will also be taught “age-appropriate” online safety lessons, such as the risks of talking to strangers and the importance of respect for others.

There will also be content on nutrition, the importance of staying active, and recognising the early signs of physical illness.

At secondary school, pupils will also be taught about the risks of sharing private photos, the impact of viewing “explicit or harmful content” and how the internet “can sometimes promote an unhealthy view of sex and relationships”.

Jonathan Baggaley, chief executive of the PHSE Association, said the government’s plans were “strongly welcomed”.

“Parents, teachers and young people have been crying out for more focus on PSHE education, so will be delighted that this core content will be guaranteed on the school curriculum.”