Colleges, RSHE

DfE ‘considering’ making sex education compulsory in colleges

The move follows calls by MPs in July to extend the provision to post-16 settings

The move follows calls by MPs in July to extend the provision to post-16 settings

The government is considering making sex and relationships education compulsory in colleges.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee called for the move in July, arguing that doing so would help more young people avoid “potentially harmful and dangerous situations”.

Currently, relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) is mandatory in secondary schools up to the age of 16.

The Department for Education today revealed it is now weighing up applying the same rule to post-16 education, in its response to the committee’s recommendations.

It considered 14 recommendations in total, most of which focus on universities and schools.

The select committee warned in July that the gap between 16 and 18 without RSHE means young people are “unsupported” and “less equipped” with important knowledge on relationships and sex issues.

It followed an inquiry by the select committee into sexual harassment in schools and colleges, after the MeToo movement emerged and after Everyone’s Invited, an online platform set up to document stories of harassment in education, went viral.

The July report warned a lack of compulsory RSHE after 16 “leaves young people making their first steps in the adult world under-supported and less equipped to navigate potentially harmful and dangerous situations and keep themselves safe and healthy in relationships”.

The committee did not, however, hear evidence on how this recommendation could apply to independent training providers.

There is wide agreement that RSHE is needed in colleges, but some sector leaders urged the government to support colleges financially so that they can offer that provision.

Geoff Barton, general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders, said sexual harassment and violence is “treated as an extremely serious matter in schools and colleges”.

But he warned colleges had received “very little” in the way of support or training for teachers to teach RSHE, and that they “cannot fight this battle alone”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said all women and girls “deserve a safe environment, and we expect schools, colleges and universities to take immediate action against sexual misconduct or harassment”. They said they will consider how their guidance and support on delivering RSHE “can be strengthened” as part of the review.

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One comment

  1. Phil Hatton

    Yet another daft thought about new hoops to jump through so less time would be available for teaching the qualifications that are wanted by the students attending college. This is supposed to happen while attending school, just like English and maths is. Rishi is already trying to increase the maths burden from where it should be completed. Get what schools need to do right done first.