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What should my school be teaching me about sex and relationships?

In secondary schools Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is a mandatory subject that will be taught. It aims to give young people the information they need to help them develop healthy, nurturing relationships of all kinds. In Primary schools the focus is on Relationships Education.

Secondary schools will cover content on what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like along with what makes a good friend, colleague and successful marriage or committed relationship. At the appropriate time, the focus will move to developing intimate relationships, to equip young people with knowledge they need to make safe, informed and healthy choices as they progress through adult life.

By the end of secondary school, pupils will have been taught about:

  • families
  • respectful relationships, including friendships
  • online media and how to stay safe
  • intimate and sexual relationships, including sexual health

Other areas covered by the end of secondary school include:

  • mental wellbeing
  • internet safety and harm prevention
  • physical health and fitness
  • healthy eating
  • drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
  • health and preventing illness
  • basic first aid changing
  • the adolescent body 


Young people or thier parents/carer cannot withdraw from Health Education or the Relationships Education element of Relationships and Sex Education, because it is important that all children receive this content, covering topics such as friendships and how to stay safe. If  parents/cares want their child not to take part in some or all of the Sex Education lessons delivered at secondary, parents/carers can ask that they are withdrawn. The child’s head teacher will consider this request and discuss it, this is usually granted in all but exceptional circumstances. This request can be done up until three school terms before the child turns 16. At this age, the child can choose to receive Sex Education if they would like to, and the school should arrange for the child to receive this teaching in one of those three terms (unless there are exceptional circumstances).

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