More than a quarter of teachers say that their school is not ready to deliver the new relationships and sex education (RSE) lessons, which will become mandatory next year. The National Education Union (NEU) and the NSPCC charity conducted a joint survey of 2175 school leaders and teachers which found that 28 per cent of respondents doubt their school’s readiness. Furthermore, almost half of teachers (47 per cent) surveyed said they personally lack confidence to deliver the lessons.

The overhaul of RSE received widespread backing in the survey, with three quarters of head teachers agreeing that the changes were crucial for creating a culture of safeguarding in the school. The curriculum in this area was last updated almost 20 years ago, and the new lessons will cover subjects such as sexting, online pornography and female genital mutiliation (FGM). However, the survey found that 61 per cent of teachers said they do not feel confident about teaching the impact of pornography, just over half (54 per cent) were not confident about teaching lessons on FGM, and only 10 per cent of respondents felt ‘very confident’ about teaching either of these topics.

The NEU and NSPCC are now calling on the government to urgently increase support and training for schools and teachers to help them deliver the lessons. Three quarters of teachers (78 per cent) said face to face training would boost their confidence to deliver high quality RSE, and three quarters (74 per cent) said that more funding for staff training would ensure schools were ready.

Almudena Lara, NSPCC Head of Policy, said: ‘For the first time ever all schools will be obliged to discuss key issues of consent and coercion, enabling more children to say no to things that make them feel uncomfortable. It is clear teachers need better support which is where the Government must do more or risk undermining the new curriculum.’

A DfE spokesperson stated that they believed all schools would have the support needed to deliver the new lessons effectively from September 2020, and that the DfE would be working closely with those schools who are starting to teach the new curriculum from September 2019.

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