New guidance expected to restrict sex education teaching in England

15 May, 2024

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan is expected this week to announce new guidance that will change how Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is taught in English schools.

Briefings to the press have indicated that the sex education component of Relationships and Sex Education will be limited to children aged nine and over, with topics such as grooming taught from age 11, and contraception taught from the age of 13. This follows a review ordered by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in 2023.

Humanists UK has expressed concern about the effect that the new guidance could have on safeguarding teaching. Children are vulnerable to abuse from ages younger than those suggested for first teaching in the reports.

Humanists UK is a longstanding member of the Sex Education Forum and the PSHE Forum, and campaigns for good quality, age and developmentally appropriate, and evidence-led Relationships and Sex Education. It will closely await the publication of guidance in full, with a view to making sure all children have access to age-appropriate knowledge about sex and relationships to keep them happy, healthy, and safe.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Lewis Young said:

‘Sex and relationships are a natural part of life, in which children need comprehensive age-appropriate education to be healthy, happy, and safe. In the past this was taboo in schools and young people were harmed by the omission. We have decades working in this and will study Government plans carefully.

‘We want all children to receive an accurate, comprehensive education that will allow them to have healthy and fulfilling relationships at the time of their education and in the future. Any reforms of this must be evidence-led and not calculated for headlines and political gain.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 0203 675 0959.

Read more about our work on relationships and sex education

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.