SRE: What they teach...

Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) or RSE (Relationships and Sex Education as it is also known as) covers the emotional, social and physical aspects of growing up including relationships, sex, sexuality, sexual health.


All schools are required to promote their pupils personal development. As well as opportunities to learn and achieve, schools must also provide spiritual, social, moral and cultural opportunities in order to help them develop and prepare for the responsibilities, actions, consequences and experiences of life. It is designed to give children and young people all the information and skills that they will need to grow, develop and maintain healthy relationships in a safe way.

As a legal requirement all schools (both primary and secondary), under the Science element of the National curriculum are obliged to provide sex education covering anatomy, puberty and the biological aspects of reproduction across the various key stages (see below), this is known as Statutory RSE. Other aspects not covered in the science curriculum should be covered as part of the Personal Health and Social Education (PHSE/PSE), Non-Statutory.

All schools by law are required to have a policy on sex and relationships education. Secondary schools must offer SRE for all pupils including HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This requirement/guidance varies for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

KEY STAGE 1 (5-7 years)

STATUTORY: National Curriculum Science

>Know and understand that humans and animals can produce offspring, and these grow into adults.

>Know and understand that animals including humans grow and reproduce.

>Recognise and compare the main external parts of the bodies of humans.

>Recognise similarities and differences between themselves and others, and treat others with sensitivity.

NON-STATUTORY: Delivered via Personal Health and Social and Social Education (PHSE)

>Know and understand the main external parts of the body, including agreed names for sexual parts.

>Know and understand the ways in which they are like and different from others.

>Be aware that their feelings and actions have an impact on others.

>Know and understand why families are special for caring and sharing.

>Know and understand that they have some control over their actions and bodies.

>Know and understand about safe places to play, and safe people to be with.

>Be able to recognise safe and unsafe situations.

>Know and understand the needs of babies and young people.

KEY STAGE 2 (7-11 years)

STATUTORY: National Curriculum Science

>Know and understand that the life processes common to humans and other animals include growth and reproduction.

>Know and understand about the main stages of the human life cycle.

NON-STATUTORY: Delivered via Personal Health and Social and Social Education (PHSE)

>Know and understand about, and accept, a wide range of different family arrangements, for example, second marriages, fostering, extended families and three or more generations living together.

>Know and understand about the physical changes that take place at puberty, why they happen and how to manage them.

>Will have considered why being different can provoke bullying and why this is unacceptable.

>Be able to recognise and challenge stereotypes, for example in relation to gender.

>Know and understand that safe routines can stop the spread of viruses, including HIV.

>Will have considered the need for trust and love in established relationships.

>Be able to recognise their own worth and identify positive things about themselves.

>Be able to listen to and support their friends and manage friendship problems.

KEY STAGE 3 (11-14 years)

STATUTORY: National Curriculum Science

>Know and understand how the growth and reproduction of bacteria, and the replication of viruses can affect health.

>Know and understand about the human reproductive system, including the menstrual cycle and fertilisation.

>Know and understand that fertilisation in humans is the fusion of a male and female cell.

>Know and understand the physical and emotional changes that take place during adolescence.

>Know and understand how the foetus develops in the uterus.

NON-STATUTORY: Delivered via Personal Health and Social and Social Education (PHSE)

>Be able to recognise the need for commitment, trust and love in meaningful relationships which may manifest themselves in a variety of forms including marriage.

>Be able to develop good interpersonal skills to sustain existing relationships as they grow and change, and to help them make new friends.

>Be able to recognise risk of personal safety in sexual behaviour and be able to make safe decisions.

>Know and understand when and where to get help, such as the genitourinary medicine clinic.

>Be able to develop skills of assertiveness in order to resist peer pressure and stereotyping.

>Will have considered issues such as the costs of early sexual activity.

>Will have considered the benefits of sexual behaviour within a committed relationship.

>Know and understand the law relating to sexual behaviour of young people.

KEY STAGE 4 (14-16 years)

STATUTORY: National Curriculum Science

>Know and understand the way in which hormonal control occurs, including the effects of the sex hormones.

>Know and understand about some medical uses of hormones including the control and promotion of fertility.

>Know and understand about the defence mechanisms of the body.

>Know and understand how sex is determined in humans.

NON-STATUTORY: Delivered via Personal Health and Social and Social Education (PHSE)

>Know and understand the way different forms of relationships, including marriage, depend for their success on maturity and commitment.

>Be able to recognise the influences and pressures around sexual behaviour, and respond appropriately and confidently seek professional advice.

>Know and understand how HIV and other sexually transmitted infections affect the body.

>Know how the different forms of contraception work and where to get advice.

>Be able to manage emotions associated with changing relationships, with parents and friends.

>Be able to have the confidence to assert themselves and challenge offending behaviour.

>Be able to have the determination to stand up for their beliefs and values.

>Know and understand the quality of good parenting and its value to family life.

Further information can be found on:-

England – Sex Education

Wales – Sex Education

Scotland - Sex Education

Northern Ireland

Department for Education and Skills Sex and Relationship Education Guidance 2000 Ref: DfES 0116/2000 on

PHSE Association

Sex Education Forum

Family Planning Association