New poll reveals the shocking gaps in the provision of Relationships and Sex Education lessons

Loudmouth are members of the Sex Education Forum. Their latest survey highlights gaps in the provision of RSHE lessons.

A new poll by the Sex Education Forum shows that young people are still not receiving the comprehensive and quality Relationships and Sex Health Education (RSHE) they were promised when the subject became mandatory over 18 months ago. Loudmouth, as long standing members of the Sex Education Forum are worried about the findings and support the report's call for more investment and action from the government.

The survey comes amid growing concerns about the prevalence of sexual harassment in schools, with a 2021 report by Ofsted warning that nearly 90% of girls, and nearly 50% of boys, said being sent explicit pictures or videos of things they did not want to see happens a lot or sometimes to them or their peers.

The poll highlights how disruption due to COVID-19 has impacted the delivery of RSHE over the last two years but training and long-term funding is urgently needed by the UK Government to support teachers to deliver RSHE.

The survey of 1,002 young people aged 16-17 in England has uncovered the extent to which lessons are being inconsistently delivered, often with few opportunities for pupils to even ask questions or influence how RSHE lessons can be improved. There was a lack of information on some mandatory topics such as recognising healthy relationships and one in three (33%) students said they didn’t learn about how to access local sexual health services.

Whilst many schools do discuss the traditional topics of RSHE, including puberty, pregnancy, and condoms, the focus is still on the scientific elements and not topics more associated with healthy relationships and the realities of young people’s lives.

The quality of RSHE lessons has not improved since RSHE became compulsory and only one in five young people (20%) said they had an ‘opportunity to ask my questions and get answers’ and only one in seven (14%) recalled ‘being asked my opinion about how RSE could be improved' over the last year.

There were also concerns that RSHE is rarely discussed in the home. Only one in six (17%) of the young people surveyed had regular discussions with parents and carers about RSE. The report calls for ministers must get a grip on this RSHE crisis. There was cross-party support for RSE to be made compulsory in schools, and during hearings in Parliament over five years ago, testimonials were heard by MPs from young people about the poor quality of these lessons.

You can read the full report here

If your school is struggling with implementing mandatory RSHE and would like to know how Loudmouth can help your school to explore topics like healthy relationships and sexual harassment in a safe way that reflects young people's lives or need further training or support for your staff then call us on 0121 446 4880.