Thinking Anglicans

CofE publishes Charter for Relationships, Sex & Health Education

From a Church of England press release:

The Church of England has published a Charter and resources to support schools in delivering Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE).

The Charter features eight commitments which all schools, Church of England and others, can sign-up to prior to the new guidelines becoming law in autumn 2020.

The Church of England’s lead Bishop for Education, Stephen Conway said in April that RSHE would require a shared duty of care between parents and schools, with the contents of the curriculum discussed and clearly communicated in advance.

To enable this, a skeleton agenda for parents’ meetings has also been published, together with a framework for school staff discussion, a policy template and activities and prayers.

The eight commitments include delivering the curriculum as a professional and identifiable part of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), building resilience of pupils, promoting healthy relationships, using honest and medically accurate information, meeting individual requirements including special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and seeking pupils’ views to make teaching relevant to their lives….

From the CofE website:

Relationships, Sex and Health Education
Faith sensitive and inclusive Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education (RSHE)

From September 2020, all primary schools will be required to teach Relationships Education. They will also be required to teach Health Education. Secondary schools will be required to teach Relationships Education and Sex Education.

The legislation makes it clear that all schools should approach RSHE in a faith sensitive and inclusive way, seeking to explain fairly the tenets and varying interpretations of religious communities on matters of sex and relationships and teach these viewpoints with respect. The Church of England Education Office supports the approach taken by the government, including recommending an age-appropriate provision of sex education at primary level, and is issuing a Charter which we hope schools of all foundations, faiths or otherwise will sign up to as they affirm the broad principles about how RSHE is taught.

The Charter is accompanied by guidance, given to help dioceses and schools as they develop policy in this area. Based in the principles established by the Church of England’s Pastoral Advisory Group which has set out some principles for living well together with difference and diversity and in Valuing All God’s Children, we have developed the following documents:

It is our intention to add to these resources during the year.

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Susannah ClarkWilliam FisherRevDaveFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark

As the Pastoral Advisory Group has pointed out in ‘Principles for Living Well Together with Difference and Diversity’, one of the significant harmful things with regard to LGBT+ issues is: Silence. When we avoid, or erase, or stay silent on LGBT+ issues, then that in itself is an act of diminution. It’s a kind of ‘Let’s not talk about these people.’ Students really must (at some stage in the primary/secondary phases) have an educational opportunity to openly discuss and be taught about LGBT+ issues. It’s also important to note (and the C of E acknowledges) that legally parents do NOT… Read more »

Father Ron Smith

Susannah, I think your recommendation that there should be some education at the primary school level – as well as later on in the schools’ system – to cater for the possibility of there being children in a class with gender identity difference. This would be excellent preparation for education in other areas of diversity that are currently under-exposed in the school curriculum. Children need reminding that ALL are equal in the sight of God, needing understanding and acceptance on a mutual basis.


Susannah, it is a difficult circle to square – making children aware of other children’s identities, and their parent/carers’ life circumstances, without advocating or encouraging beliefs or behaviours. Even describing someones gender as “assigned” rather than *given by their genetics/biology/physiology* is far from neutral. I worry that the huge increase in children attending gender clinics has been caused mostly by the way they are being taught, at a very vulnerable and maleable age, that their body does not define who they are. It is not a pleasant experience to feel distressed about your body or your sexuality, and living as… Read more »

William Fisher
William Fisher

RevDave, you make a very good and valid point about the erroneous notion that people’s sex is “assigned” to them by anyone, and about the undesirability of putting such ideas into children’s heads. I would just like to draw attention to two things, however. Firstly, the juxtaposition “trans or gay” has no more logical justification than the juxtaposition “trans or straight”. Secondly, if you are gay, there is no incompatibility between your “identity” or attractions and your biology/physiology.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark

Rev Dave, It is reasonable and possible to make children aware of other children’s identities, without encouraging them to be trans themselves. I have worked as a school nurse at a school that had a brilliant and pastorally caring ethos, where all pupils were made aware of such diversities, and the respect due to trans teens as they explored their identity in daily life, but there was no attempt to proselytise kids to become trans as well. It’s not a ‘circle and a square’. It’s pretty straightforward. Trans students need time and space and a safe, respectful environment – as… Read more »