Relationship, sex and health education (RSHE) is a hot topic within both education and politics right now. As culture changes and attitudes towards sexuality and gender become more liberal, educators are having to decide how much of this should be reflected in RSHE lessons.

Since September 2020, relationship education has been compulsory in schools across England. While secondary schools are required to teach on sex and LGBT issues, this is optional in primary schools. 

As the government have released no guidance on RSHE since this legislation came into play, much of the content and delivery of lessons has been left to the discretion of each individual school – creating a postcode lottery of how children are taught about relationships and sex. 


The Conservative Party is divided on RSHE

In a recent interview with the CEO of Mumsnet ( an online forum for parents), the secretary of state for education, Gillian Keegan, stated that she did not agree with scenarios where parents are not informed of their child identifying as a different gender at school. She pointed towards the current review of RSHE as being the government’s way of finding resolutions to issues such as this one. 

However, the government’s recent decision to pass legislation that would require abortion to be a compulsory part of the curriculum in Northern Ireland gives an indication on where they fall on some areas of RSHE. This decision caused Robin Millar MP, to resign from his role as parliamentary private secretary to the Welsh secretary, stating that the issue was a conscience matter” for him, and that further consultation of parents was needed.

Meanwhile, backbench MP Miriam Cates, has put forward a Private Members Bill in the House of Commons that would create greater transparency around what is being taught in schools and would restrict the use of unpublished RSHE materials. Now in its second stage in the house, this bill will serve the purpose of placing pressure on the government to adopt greater transparency in their RSHE guidance and legislation. 

Findings of report on RSHE

Miriam Cates, who was formerly a science teacher, commissioned a report earlier this year that explored the content of RSHE lessons in schools across England. The report was extremely condemning of the way RSHE is being taught. In parliament, Cates stated: across the country children are being subjected to lessons that are age-inappropriate, extreme, sexualising and inaccurate”. 

While some criticised Cates as scaremongering”, it was her report that acted as a catalyst for the government review into RSHE that is now underway. After Cates raised some of the findings from the report in PMQs, prime minister Rishi Sunak stated that he had asked the Department for Education to ensure that schools are not teaching inappropriate or contested content in RSHE lessons, and that he was bringing forward a review.

How is the Evangelical Alliance engaging with the review?

The Evangelical Alliance recognise that RSHE is a complex policy area for parents to navigate. We want to make sure that the views of parents and the experiences of young people are understood by policymakers. 

We are therefore inviting evangelical parents and carers of children of school age in England to share their experience of RSHE by completing our short online survey by 13 August 2023. The results will help form our response to the public consultation aspect of the government’s review and guide us in further interactions with policymakers.

As we engage with this difficult topic, let’s pray for parents as they engage constructively with schools. Let’s pray that children will be protected from harmful content. And finally, let’s pray for the government to have wisdom over what guidance to put in place. 



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