Sex education to be compulsory in England, government rules

26 April 2017

Sex and relationships education (SRE) is to be made compulsory in all schools in England.

Education secretary Justine Greening said all children would be taught about safe and healthy relationships from the age of four.

Sex education will also be introduced at an appropriate age, she said, but parents would have the right to withdraw their children from these classes. SRE has previously only been compulsory in council-run schools. But under the new legislation academies and free schools will also be under obligation to offer it.

Pupils could be taught the new curriculum, which will include what constitutes healthy relationships, and the dangers of sexting, online pornography and sexual harassment, from 2019.

Ms Greening said that schools would have flexibility over how they deliver the subjects and faith schools could continue to teach in accordance with their faith.

Unite-CPHVA lead professional officer Ros Godson welcomed the decision, adding that school nurses ‘are willing and able to help schools deliver appropriate lessons’.


Scotland: The subject is not compulary in Scotland but new guidance that was introduced in 2014 falls under the responsibility of schools and local authorities. 

Northern Ireland: The Department of Education in Northern Ireland requires each school to have written policy on how it will address the delivery of SRE.

Wales: In Wales, SRE is part of the curriculum but is not currently compulsory.