RSE: 28% of teachers say their school is unprepared for new mandatory lessons

Twenty-eight per cent of teachers believe their school is not ready to teach new relationships and sex education lessons, which become compulsory next year.

A poll of more than 2,000 teachers by the NSPCC children’s charity and National Education Union also found 47 per cent half lack confidence in their own ability to deliver the new curriculum. It has prompted calls for greater investment in training and support from the government.

It is clear teachers need better support which is where the government must do more or risk undermining the new curriculum

From September 2020, all schools will have to teach relationships and health education and all secondary schools will have to teach sex education. Guidance on the content schools must teach has also been updated for the first time in almost 20 years, to include subjects like consent, pornography and female genital mutilation.

However, the joint NSPCC-NEU survey casts doubts on the ability of schools to handle more complex issues. For example, 61 per cent of teachers said they did not feel confident teaching about the impact of pornography, while 54 per cent lack the confidence to address FGM with their pupils.

In fact, only 10 per cent of respondents said they felt “very confident” in confronting those issues.

The government has allocated just £6 million to support schools and train teachers to deliver new RSE lessons. The Sex Education Forum believes it will cost 10 times that to properly prepare schools.

Seventy-eight per cent of respondents to today’s survey said face-to-face training would boost their confidence in teaching the subjects, while 74 per cent said more funding for staff training would ensure schools were ready.

“It is clear teachers need better support which is where the government must do more or risk undermining the new curriculum,” said Almudena Lara, the NSPCC’s head of policy.

Government support for schools has also been called into question following a bitter dispute between schools in Birmingham and parents over teaching about LGBT+ relationships.

Protesters, most of whom are members of the local Muslim community, have returned to Parkfield School after it relaunched its “no outsiders” programme of equality education, which among other things teaches pupils that same-sex relationships are healthy and normal.

It comes after Birmingham council was forced to obtain an injunction against protests at another school, Anderton Park primary, which has also taught about equality for many years. Heads and policy experts believe a lack of clear guidance on the new RSE proposals and poor support from the government are among the primary reasons for the protests.