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Sex education policy

Adopted: April 2014, reviewed April 2018

Legislation set in place by successive Education Acts indicates that it is the responsibility of the school to ensure that all students are offered the opportunity of receiving a comprehensive, well-planned programme of sex and relationships education during their school careers in fulfilment of the requirement of section 1 of the Education Reform Act 1988 that the school curriculum should be one which:

  • “Promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of students at the school and of society; and
  • Prepares such students for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life."

From September 1994, schools introducing changes provided by section 241 of the Education Act 1993, have the following legal powers and duties:

  • Governing bodies must make a written statement of their policy on sex and relationships education available to parents.
  • Sex and relationships education (including education about abortion, HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections) must be provided for all registered students.
  • Sex and relationships education must be provided in such a manner as to encourage young people to have regard to moral considerations and the value of family life.

The school acknowledges its legal responsibilities and, in aiming to meet the requirements of Section 241 of the Education Act 1993, considers that appropriate sex and relationships education must be an important element in the curriculum of the college in preparing students for adult life.

In sixth form tutorials, sex and relationships education is set in a moral framework, and also considers emotional and psychological aspects and stresses the importance of behaving in a socially responsible way.

The aims of sex and relationships education are:

  • To provide objective information about the physical, emotional, moral and social aspects of human sexual development;
  • To prepare students to deal effectively with changes they will experience during young adulthood and to cope with the challenges they will face;
  • To prepare students for the roles they will assume in adult relationships and parenthood by helping them to acquire the knowledge and skills relevant to these areas;
  • To prepare students to view their relationships in a responsible and healthy manner and to enable them to recognise the risks of certain types of sexual behaviour;
  • To assist students to develop and clarify a personal set of values and attitudes which will support them in their decision making in the present and in the future;
  • To encourage students to consider the importance of self-restraint, dignity and respect for themselves and others, acceptance of responsibility, sensitivity towards the needs and views of others, loyalty and fidelity; and
  • To develop students' self-esteem and self-improvement, encouraging students to view themselves in positive terms.

The above aims should take account of and be appropriate to the age and stage    of development of the student.

Organisation of sex and relationships education in the school

Teacher with responsibility for planning and delivery of the programme is the school’s pastoral coordinator.

Information should be presented in a factual, unbiased way and controversial issues handled with sensitivity so that students are given information enabling them to make healthy decisions.

Specific classroom arrangements

Students are taught in their mixed-ability groups although consideration will be given to delivery in single-sex groups if considered necessary.

Issues of confidentiality

It is important to distinguish between the school's function of providing education generally about sexual matters and, on the other, counselling and advice to individual students on these issues, particularly if it relates to their own sexual behaviour.

The Sex Education 5/94 Circular states that:

“A teacher approached by an individual student for advice on contraception or other aspects of sexual behaviour should, wherever possible, encourage the student to seek advice from his/her parents, and if appropriate, from the relevant health service professional. Where the circumstances are such as to lead the teacher to believe that the student has embarked upon, or is contemplating, a course of conduct which is likely to place him/her at moral or physical risk or in breach of the law, the teacher has the general responsibility to ensure that the student is aware of the implications and urged to seek advice. In such circumstances the teacher should inform the Head-teacher. The Head-teacher should arrange for the student to be counselled if appropriate and, where the student is under age, for the parents to be made aware, preferably by the student himself/herself. Whether the specialist support services or the local education authority should be involved will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and the professional judgement of the staff." (See paragraph 40).

In practice, if students ask for individual advice teachers:

  • Should encourage students to discuss their concerns with their parents;
  • Should tell students where to seek confidential advice and information as appropriate;
  • Can themselves give advice to students who have not been withdrawn from sex education, within the boundaries of their own professional role;
  • Should not promise students confidentiality;
  • Should use discretion to keep disclosures made to them confidential, if, in the teacher's professional judgement, this is in the student's best interest and does not contravene the school safeguarding and child protection procedures and practices; and
  • Are not obliged to break confidentiality: they can only be instructed by the Principal to do so.

Parental withdrawal from sex and relationships education

Subject to the Principal's power to direct, teachers are not obliged to inform parents where students seek individual advice about sexual matters, but can maintain confidentiality if, in  their professional judgement, this would be in the child's best interest.

Merely informing a child of where he/she can seek confidential advice is not sex education. Teachers can give such information to children who have been withdrawn.

Parents requesting withdrawal will be invited to discuss their concerns with a senior member of staff, though there is no obligation for them to do so. It is hoped that, in most cases, explanation or a minor modification may assure them that the programme is suitable for their children.

Parents still wishing to withdraw their children should make this request in writing to the Principal, following which alternative arrangements may be made for the teaching or supervision of them.

Dialogue between the school and parents will remain open and parents will be informed of future sex and relationships education lessons so that they may revoke their request at a later date should they wish to do so.

Monitoring, evaluation and review

The Principal will report to the governors’ curriculum and standards committee on any relevant aspects of the working of the policy as appropriate.

The governing body will review the policy every three years.