£60 million 'needed’ to train teachers in new RSE curriculum

Conference told ‘£250 per school’ is not enough for new relationships and sex curriculum training – while DfE says it is researching which aspects are most difficult to teach

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The government has been called on to increase funding for training teachers in the new relationship and sex education (RSE) curriculum, which will be compulsory from next September.

The Department for Education has already pledged £6 million to help train teachers in areas of the new curriculum, which will include same sex relationships as well as sexting, pornography and coercive control.

DfE education advisor Ian Bauckham told the Westminster Education Forum in central London this morning that the department was currently conducting research to establish which aspects of content teachers would find most difficult to teach.

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But in a Q and A session, he was told by Alex Phillips from the Terrence Higgins Trust that £6 million was insufficient and only amounted to around £250 per school.

Mr Bauckham said: “It doesn’t sound like much, but actually there are ways of spending £6 million in an effective and economical way such that a large number of schools get some access to some sort of quality and training. It may be that further funding is allocated to this in due course.”    

Lucy Emmerson, director of the Sex Education Forum, said less than a third of teaching staff believed their schools would be ready to deliver RSE when it becomes statutory in 2019, and called for £60 million to be made available over the next spending review period.

She told the forum: “Please! That is essential for any change. We have seen funding for other areas of school change so why not RSE?”

Mr Bauckham also said he couldn’t provide a definitive list of all “exceptional circumstances” in which headteachers can refuse to allow pupils to be withdrawn from RSE lessons. 

He said: “If such a list existed and was easy to formulate we’d put it in the guidance. That’s the main reason why the circumstances are exceptional - because they’re very rare and each one in a sense unique but we will try to respond to the clear wish in the sector to have a little bit more shape throughout that.”

He said the DfE has been working “very closely” with Parkfield Primary, in Birmingham, and others schools which had encountered opposition from parents over teaching of relationships and sex education issues.

From next September, all pupils will be taught about relationships in primary school and relationships and sex education in secondary school.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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