Relationships & sex education

Relationships & sex education

The homepage of information on relationships and sex education in Northumberland.

Relationships and sex education

This service aims to support teachers and professional educators to deliver excellent, high-quality relationships and sex education (RSE) which is sometimes referred to as SRE, for all children and young people in Northumberland.

Purpose of relationships & sex education
This resource will enable schools, teachers and governors across Northumberland to further develop relationships and sex education (RSE) in schools. It provides Northumberland with:    
  • a consistent, evidence-based approach to delivery, supporting schools to build on what they already deliver
  • the means to provide good quality RSE to all children and young people
  • a programme of study that is cohesive from foundation stage to key stage five
What relationships & sex education includes
Relationship & sex education - contact us
For further details or to access a copy of the full RSE Core Curriculum Document, please contact:

Helen MacPhail
PSHE/SRE Specialist
Safeguarding & Wellbeing Team
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
NE61 2EF
Tel: 01670 622731


Overview of relationships & sex education

An overview of what we do with regards to relationships & sex education.

Review of the national curriculum
On 20 January 2011, the secretary of state for education announced a review of the national curriculum. The review will look at the curriculum for both primary and secondary schools and does not include sex and relationship education. 

However, it does say: “The government recognises good personal, social, health and economic (PHSE) education supports individual young people to make safe and informed choices, but that often schools need more support and help in the way they cover the important topics dealt with within PSHE ecducation, including sex and relationships education.”

On 21 July 2011, the minister of state for schools launched a review of PSHE eductaion to consider the essential knowledge and awareness pupils need to be taught, so they understand the world around them and are able to manage their lives now and in the future. 

Organisations and individuals, including teachers, parents, young people and faith organisations, were invited to submit evidence or provide examples of good practice.
Support for high quality relationships & sex education in white paper
The education white paper The Importance of Teaching, published in 2010, states children need high-quality relationships and sex education (RSE) so they can make wise and informed choices. The government promised to work with teachers, parents, faith groups and campaign groups to improve RSE.

In 2008, a report by the sex and relationships education (SRE) review steering group was published.

It stated action to drive up quality should be focused on the following broad areas:
  • improving the skills and confidence of those who deliver RSE
  • clarification of the role of external contributors in supporting schools’ delivery of RSE
  • the need for further guidance and support for schools  
  • involving young people in the design of RSE programmes    
  • clarification of how best to maximise the impact of wider programmes and initiatives
  • improving school leadership on RSE 
The RSE core curriculum for Northumberland endorses these recommendations.
Why do we need to provide relationships & sex education in schools?
RSE has a role in enabling young people to take responsibility for their own, and others’, sexual health. It supports parents in giving their children the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make safe and responsible choices.
The review of RSE in schools examined the evidence base for effective teaching and found that:
  • The combination of comprehensive RSE programmes in schools and accessible contraceptive services in the local community are effective in reducing teenage pregnancies. 
  • Effective approaches promote age appropriate messages, e.g. delaying having sex until young people feel ready, including content specific to reducing risk (help to resist pressure, negotiation skills etc.) and involving interactive and participatory techniques.
  • RSE is more effective if begun before the onset of sexual activity.
  • RSE that incorporates small group work and is focused on skills and attitudes (rather than knowledge) is effective in reducing sexual risk behaviour.*
 * = Trivedi, D., Bunn, F., Graham, M. and Wentz, R. (2007). Update on Review of Reviews on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood. Submitted as an addendum to the first evidence briefing 2003 (Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, on behalf of NICE).

Rationale of relationships & sex education

This section tells you about the reasons we feel sex and relationship education is important in schools.

Definition of relationships & sex education
Wellbeing, relationships and sex education (RSE) is learning about emotional, social and physical aspects of growing up, human sexuality and sexual health.  Some aspects are taught in science and others are taught as part of Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) Education. The Sex Education Forum (2015)  believes that learning about relationships and sex should be underpinned by accurate, factual and comprehensive information about relationships, sex and the law and sexual health in order to make informed choices.  In schools this should be part of compulsory curriculum provision and also be;
  • positive and inclusive in terms of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, culture, age, religion, beliefs or other life experience, particularly HIV status or pregnancy
  • inclusive in the development of skills to support healthy and safe relationships and ensure good communication about these issues
  • promoting a critical awareness of the different attitudes and views on sex and relationships within society such as peer norms and those portrayed in the media
  • providing opportunities for reflection in order to nurture personal values based on mutual respect and care.
  • part of life-long learning starting early in childhood and continuing throughout life, it should reflect the age and level of the learner.
  • ensuring children and young people are clearly informed of their rights, such as how they can access confidential advice and health services, within the boundaries of safeguarding.
  • relevant and meet the needs of children and young people and actively involve them as participants, advocates and evaluators in developing good quality provision.
  • delivered by competent and confident educators.
  • provided within a learning environment which is safe for the children, young people and adults involved and based on the principal that prejudice, discrimination and bullying are harmful and unacceptable.
Information about sex alone can never be enough. There are three key elements to RSE:
  • acquiring information
  • developing skills
  • exploring attitudes and values
What do children & young people say?
They tell us:
  • In many instances, RSE is ‘too little, too late and too biological’ and does not address broader emotional, moral or social issues.
  • They would like opportunities to learn about and discuss the emotional and practical aspects of relationships, puberty, growing up, sexuality, what to expect and how to cope, not simply the biological and reproductive information.       
  • They are often ill-prepared for relationships and would like opportunities to think about peer pressure, how it can lead to unwanted sex and its consequences.       
  • They need opportunities to have their questions answered, to correct misinformation, allay fears and to learn about aspects of development before they happen, not after. 
One of the most comprehensive surveys into young people’s views of RSE was a report published in 2007 by the UK Youth Parliament, which based its conclusions on questionnaire responses by 20,000 young people. 40% reported their RSE was poor or very poor. A further 33% said it was only average (“SRE: Are you getting it?” London: UK Youth Parliament).
The Sex Education Forum undertook a survey for the 2008 review of relationships and sex education in schools, which had similar findings. The main criticisms of current RSE delivery were that:
  • it wasn’t relevant to real life
  • it wasn’t given enough time
  • it was delivered by untrained teachers
  • it was not inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people or those with disabilities
What do parents & carers say?
Lessons at school have been cited as the most preferred source of information around sex and growing up, closely followed by parents (Natsal-3findings 2010-12).  The majority of parents and carers,  support school based RSE and although there is a parental right to withdraw children from the non-statutory aspects of RSE, the numbers who do so are extremely low (under 1 per cent, Ofsted 2002).
For some parents/carers, school-based RSE reinforces the messages from home, but many others say they lack the skills, confidence and knowledge to talk to their children about relationship and sex and therefore look to professionals for support. Please contact us for further information regarding resources and workshops to support this work.
Schools, who work in partnership with parents/carers in developing RSE policy and programmes, have found this to be effective in allaying parental fears about the content of RSE. When parents have been encouraged to find out more about what is taught in their children’s school, they are generally surprised about how little of RSE is statutory.[1]
[1] Unpublished findings from parents participating in fpa’s ‘Speakeasy’ programme, fpa
What do teachers say?
Northumberland PSHE teachers have informed us of a number of important messages around RSE.
  • the majority thought that RSE makes an important contribution to the duty of schools to promote well-being and that PSHE is as important as other curriculum subjects.
  • they have valued the support offered in Northumberland around RSE training, resources and curriculum development.
  • leadership and time for training was considered to be the of the most important intervention to improve RSE in schools.         
  • most teachers felt that the factual aspects of RSE (human reproduction, STIs and contraception) were taught well, but that teaching on the relationships aspects (sexuality, child sexual exploitation, FGM, relationship violence, consent and rape) was more challenging. 

What do faith & community leaders say?
There needs to be:
  • increased understanding of the content and need for RSE among faith leaders
  • increased support for RSE, based on a shared values framework
  • increased understanding across faith groups of the different and similar faith perspectives relating to sex and relationships

Relationships & sex education - legislation & guidance

This section is about the legislation and guidance regarding relationships & sex education.

Sex & relationship education & the law
The Amendment to the Education and Inspections Act places a statutory duty on schools to promote children’s wellbeing, as well as their academic achievement.

The amendment uses the definition of ‘wellbeing’ as outlined in the Children’s Act 2004, which includes the promotion of:
  • physical and mental health
  • emotional wellbeing
  • protection from harm and neglect
  • education, training and recreation
  • the contribution made by (a child) to society
  • social and economic wellbeing
One of the wellbeing indicators will require schools to deliver SRE. All indicators will be used by Ofsted to inspect schools to ascertain their effectiveness in promoting the wellbeing of all children and young people in the school.
Laws regarding sex & relationship education
  • The puberty, reproduction and infection-related elements to SRE are contained in the national curriculum (NC) 2000 science orders and are mandatory for all pupils of primary and secondary age.
  • All schools must provide an up-to-date policy that describes the content and organisation of SRE provided outside NC science. It is the school governors’ responsibility to ensure the policy is developed and made available to parents/carers for inspection.
  • Primary schools should have a policy statement that describes the SRE provided or gives a statement of the decision not to provide SRE other than that provided within NC science.
  • Secondary schools are required to provide an SRE programme which includes (as a minimum) information about sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.
  • Special schools and middle schools may need to make separate arrangements for primary school aged children and secondary school aged children.
  • Parents have the right to withdraw their children from the SRE provided outside NC science. They cannot withdraw their children from NC subjects.
For further information see:
  • Sex and Relationship Education Guidance, 0016/2000 (DfES 2000)
  • National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (DH 2004)
  • Sex and Relationships Education Framework. 2005 Sex Education Forum, NCB
  • Sex and relationships education: support for school governors, Sex Education Forum, Spotlight Series, 2004
  • Sex and Relationships Education in schools, HMI 433 (Ofsted 2002)
  • Time for change? Personal, Social and Health Education, HMI 070049 (Ofsted 2007)
The national curriculum
The primary – non-statutory framework for personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education and citizenship (2000) has four main elements through which sex and relationship education can be developed and organised. These are:
  • developing confidence and responsibility and making the most of abilities
  • preparing to play an active role as citizens
  • developing a healthy, safer lifestyle      
  • developing good relationships and respecting the differences between people
PSHE education is currently organised into two new non-statutory programmes of study:
  • personal wellbeing
  • economic wellbeing and financial capability
The non-statutory programme of study for PSHE eductaion is intended to support schools in developing a coherent whole-school approach. It provides a context for schools to fulfill their legal responsibilities to promote the wellbeing of pupils and provide sex and relationships and drugs education. It also provides schools with an opportunity to focus on delivering skills identified in the framework for SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning).

For further information see:
  • PSHE: personal wellbeing, programme of study (non-statutory): key stage 3 (QCA 2007)
  • PSHE: personal wellbeing, programme of study (non-statutory): key stage 4 (QCA 2007)
  • for information on all subjects, click here
Social emotional aspect of learning (SEAL)
SEAL is a comprehensive approach for promoting the social and emotional skills that underpin effective learning, positive behaviour and emotional health and wellbeing in schools. SEAL aims to complement the delivery of effective SRE.
Healthy Schools Programme
The National Healthy Schools Programme (NHSP) played a key role in helping schools to deliver quality PSHE education programmes. 95% of schools nationally were involved in the programme.

Schools that previously attained ‘healthy schools’ status had SRE programmes and schemes of work in place in line with national guidance.
We now need to look to the future to ensure that all of our schools autonomously promote effective RSE across all stages.
Sex & relationship education - policy development
School governing bodies have an overall statutory responsibility for SRE policy development. They should also ensure SRE is part of PSHE education and is included in the school’s planning to secure adequate funding.

Governing bodies are expected to involve parents, children and young people, as well as other professionals, in SRE policy development.

National SRE guidance states all schools must have an up-to-date SRE policy which:
  • defines SRE
  • ensures the needs of all pupils, whatever their developing sexuality, are met
  • describes how SRE is provided and who is responsible for providing it
  • explains that teachers should be able to deal honestly and sensitively with sexual orientation, answer appropriate questions and offer support
  • says how SRE is monitored and evaluated   
  • includes information about parents’ right to withdrawal      
  • is reviewed regularly
  • is available for inspection and to parents/carers
 For further information, see:
Sex Education Forum

Effective SRE policies should take into account the following issues:

Faith and culture
Children and young people from all faiths and cultures have an entitlement to SRE. SRE should be sensitive to a range of different values and beliefs within a multi-faith and multicultural society.

To do this effectively, SRE programmes must be developed in partnership with parents and the wider community. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and families are present in all schools, including faith schools. All schools also have a duty to prevent all forms of bullying, including sexual, homophobic and transphobic bullying.

For further information see:
Faith, values and Sex and Relationships Education
Sex & relationship education - more policy development
Schools need a confidentiality policy that is developed in partnership with young people and understood by them and their parents. Staff working in schools can never guarantee total confidentiality.

Teachers, schools, nurses and outside visitors involved in the delivery of SRE need to set out clear boundaries that encourage discussion but make clear what will happen if a child or young person makes a disclosure that causes concern. There is no legal requirement for staff in schools to report knowledge of sexual activity among under-16s unless there are safeguarding concerns.

All staff involved in the delivery of SRE should provide information to young people about sources of 1:1 confidential sexual health advice, information and treatment, whether these are part of the school’s extended services or based in another setting.

For further information, see: Sexuality, sexual orientation and sexual identity
National guidance is clear SRE in schools should be relevant to, and inclusive of, all young people, regardless of their developing sexual and gender identity. This fundamental principle applies to all schools, whatever the phase, sector, culture or faith.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people report that a continued focus on biological and reproductive aspects means the content of SRE is not something they can relate to.

A broader focus on emotional aspects of sexuality, with positive discussion about feelings we experience during relationships, skills for negotiating difficulties, pleasure and the range of sexual identities would have meaning for all young people.

When staff signpost young people to confidential sexual health advice, information and treatment, they need to be mindful of the need to include support for LGBT young people. Schools can request the support and expertise of LGBT agencies.

In addition to taking an inclusive approach to the delivery of SRE, schools also need to address explicit and implicit homophobia. The negative impact of this on the attendance and attainment of LGBT young people is well documented and schools need to address prejudicial behaviour and attitudes.

For further information, see:
Frequently asked questions about SRE and inclusion

A young person’s culture and ethnicity may have an impact on how likely they are to have had any SRE at home. All young people have an entitlement to this education. Our county is increasingly multicultural and schools will need to engage with children and young people, parents and the wider community to ensure SRE is relevant to the young people attending the school.

Schools can sometimes be fearful of encountering resistance to the planned programme of SRE by parents. Equally parents can assume SRE will promote a particular set of values that may be at polar opposites from their own, or that SRE is delivered in a values vacuum.

Young people can sometimes feel torn between home values and those they hear and see on the street. Some acknowledge they are grateful schools provide them with SRE because their parents are unable to. SRE in schools creates the opportunity to safely explore and discuss differences in values and behaviour.
SRE is not value-free. However, it is important it is set within a values framework.

It is important such a framework supports an approach that enables young people to explore issues, values and social and moral dilemmas. Learning about issues requires all children and young people to explore and understand different attitudes, values and perspectives. Religious views and moral issues on contraception, relationships and marriage need to be included.

SRE allows learning to take place within a framework of mutual respect, rights and responsibilities, including the promotion of equalities in regard to race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age. SRE needs to promote discussion of difference and promote positive and confident attitudes to support young people in managing pressures to become sexually active until they are ready to take full responsibility for a sexual relationship.


Good practice & delivery of relationships & sex education

This section explores good practice and delivery regarding relationships and sex education.

Improving the skills & confidence of those who deliver SRE
Teachers of SRE have identified the most important factor in improving quality is more training. Schools can and should support staff involved in a number of ways. Support can be provided for staff involved in the teaching of SRE.

Alternatively, staff can be encouraged to participate in SRE INSET sessions run by the local authority or other agencies. 
Identifying needs for sex & relationship education
National surveys of children and young people consistently report their dissatisfaction with the content and delivery of SRE. In order to ensure the needs of young people are being met, it is important to regularly audit and review the programme of delivery.

Consultation with pupils gives the school valuable information about current knowledge and attitudes, what skills young people would like to develop and how to provide appropriate, pupil-focused content and delivery of SRE.

For further information please visit:
PSHE EducationThe government's web pages on PSHE Education
Life Lessons: PSHE and SRE in Schools
Letting Children be Children. The Bailey Report
Establishing clear aims & learning outcomes
The PSHE Assciation web site has links to a range of resources. The most recent guidance about RSE is 
Sex and Relationships Education for the 21st Century.


Developing a safe & supportive learning environment for SRE
SRE includes learning about and exploring a range of issues including relationships, sexual attraction, feelings, menstruation, abortion, contraception, sexually transmitted infections and sexuality. Children and young people may have heard a lot or a little about these topics from their friends and family. They may already have strongly held beliefs on some issues. Teachers will need the skills to support exploration of these topics in a way that is safe, respectful, informed and considerate.

Safe learning environments
These can be established using the following approaches:
  • Ground rules or group agreements should be set, including that no-one should be forced to answer personal questions or to share anything they do not want to and young people should treat each other with kindness and respect.
  • Clear boundaries need to be established so pupils know any questions must be appropriate to the learning environment and within the ground rules. For example, the teacher needs to make it clear they will not answer questions of a personal nature. Although it may be tempting to illustrate the lesson with experiences from one’s own life, it isn’t good practice.
  • Confidentiality should be clarified in the school setting, as well as knowing there is no absolute guarantee of confidentiality.
  • An inclusive approach to SRE and sexuality should be developed so all children and young people, regardless of faith, culture, sexual orientation or disability, are able to feel the SRE programme is relevant.
  • The use of language should be negotiated so derogatory language about sexual behaviour is understood to be unacceptable and body parts are described using scientific terms.
  • Questions should be responded to positively, including welcoming input, inviting pupils to answer each other’s questions, using anonymous question boxes or recognising sometimes there is no right answer.
  • Learning should be differentiated according to the age, ability and understanding.
  • Open questioning should be used so nobody feels as though they are under a spotlight.
  • Distancing techniques, including case studies, literature, characters from TV, role play, problem solving and theatre in education, should be used.
  • Assessment and evaluation should reflect on learning.
  • In order for pupils to feel the classroom is a safe and supportive environment for them to learn about SRE, they also need to feel confident that:
    • while all answers are welcomed, inaccurate responses will be corrected sensitively
    • they know where and how to access other sources of support, such as a learning mentor, school counsellor, parent or carer, school nurse drop in sessions, local sexual health clinics, helplines, websites and national support agencies
    • prejudice will be consistently challenged. This is best done in a non-confrontational way by challenging the statement, not the individual, and helping the young person reconsider their views without putting them in an awkward position. Teachers can also refer to the class ground rules if necessary. Young people may need reminding certain forms of discrimination are a criminal offence.
    • if a question appears to be too explicit or advanced for a young person, inappropriate for the whole group or raises concerns about sexual abuse, teachers can acknowledge this and promise to attend to it later on an individual basis. If abuse is suspected, the teacher must talk to the member of staff responsible for safeguarding children.
Using effective teaching & learning strategies
“There are three elements to sex and relationships education: the acquisition of information, the development of essential life skills, and the opportunity to explore values and attitudes. The methods of delivering SRE are as important as the content.” (A. Martinez, 2005)

For information to become knowledge, which informs and influences behaviour, particular learning has to take place. These active methods are vital to successful outcomes.

Research from the UK and the US provides evidence that SRE leading to the clarification of attitudes, values and skills development is most effective when pupils are actively involved (Health Development Agency 2003 Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood: A Review of Reviews).

The role of external agencies
External SRE input by community health professionals, peer educators, theatre-in-education companies and sexual health projects can add value by providing information and/or offering exciting and stimulating approaches.

Some can give accurate, up-to-date information on contraception, STIs, how to access services, appointment systems and what to expect on a visit. They help make local services more visible to young people and reach out to groups who may be less likely to access their service, such as young men.

Whenever a school engages with an external agency, they should make clear its policies on SRE, confidentiality and other relevant policies prior to the visit. This helps to ensure the visitor is aware of the ethos and how incidents are dealt with, should any occur.

Sessions should be jointly planned, delivered and evaluated by the teacher and visitor. This should include agreement on the content, learning outcomes, methods of evaluation and possible follow-up work. The visitor’s contribution will be incorporated into PSHE education, not used in isolation from it.
Assessment & evaluation
To be able to meet the needs of pupils and contribute effectively to their personal development, it is essential to incorporate assessment and evaluation into SRE programmes.

Assessment enables judgements to be made about an individual’s learning and development. Evaluation is a process through which judgements are made about the effectiveness of learning.

Baseline assessment is carried out at the beginning of a piece of work to determine what pupils know already, what they need to learn and how best they will learn. A baseline assessment will identify gaps in knowledge, attitudes and values on certain issues, existing skills and any special educational needs. This knowledge will determine where work should start and how it should be developed, including what language and resources to use.

Formative assessment happens when professionals, children and young people work together to make judgements about what progress is being made against agreed learning objectives. This is used to identify where pupils have reached in their learning and what the next steps may be. Formative assessments should be a collaborative process that enhances the learning experience.

Summative assessment summarises what has been learned and is generally carried out at the end of a piece of work or period of time.

Both the primary and secondary national strategies emphasise the need to allow enough time at the end of lessons to recap on the original learning objectives and to consolidate learning, otherwise pupils could go away having enjoyed the activities but not knowing what the point of the lesson was.

Evaluation methods are often similar to assessment methods, but focus more on the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process. Evaluation encourages those involved in SRE delivery to reflect on and, if necessary, amend their practice.

Recording and reporting learning and achievement
Recording of progress and achievement in PSHE eductaion, including SRE, can be included in pupil log books, progress files, records of achievement or electronic portfolios. Pupils may also include target setting and record their achievements in PSHE education in their individual education plans or individual behaviour plans.

There are no specific requirements about what to include in a PSHE education report but reports should include comments on strengths and development needs and confirm what pupils have achieved and what they hope to achieve in the future. Schools can celebrate achievement in PSHE education through school and community awards and certificates, progress files, qualifications, PSHE education assemblies and events.

For further information:
  • Assessment, Evaluation and Sex and Relationships Education – A practical toolkit for education, health and community settings (Blake, S. and Muttock, S. (2004) – for practical assessment activities

Northumberland relationships & sex education curriculum

The following overviews relate to the curriculum for the foundation stage, primary schools and secondary schools.

The following overviews for the foundation stage, primary and secondary curriculums illustrate the schemes, detailed lesson plans and suggested resources that can be accessed.

Sex & relationship education core curriculum
This is a RSE core curriculum schools and local authority advisers can expand upon with additional, specialist activities to meet local need.

The RSE core curriculum for Northumberland refers to a variety of recommended lesson plans and resources, which enable the user to employ a degree of choice. 
Relationships & sex education primary curriculum overview
Teaching RSE with confidence in primary schools
The curriculum encourages children to develop the skills of listening, empathy, talking about feelings and relationships with families and friends.

From year one, children will learn the names of the body parts, the differences between males and females and the ways in which they will develop and grow. Importantly, they will also learn to recognise unsafe and risky situations and to ask for help.

The curriculum continues to develop knowledge and skills while learning about the physical and emotional changes of puberty and about reproduction. 

Relationships & sex education secondary curriculum overview
Teaching RSE with confidence in secondary schools
The schools white paper The Importance of Teaching, published in November 2010, states children need high-quality sex and relationships education so they can make wise and informed choices. Therefore, the most up-to-date legislation relating to SRE is contained within the Education Act (1996) and the Learning and Skills Act (2000).

It is compulsory for all maintained schools to teach some parts of sex education, i.e. the biological aspects of puberty, reproduction and the spread of viruses. These topics are statutory parts of national curriculum science, which must be taught to all pupils of primary and secondary age.

There is also a requirement for secondary schools to teach about HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted infections as part of this.

This resource covers the statutory and non-statutory aspects of SRE in a way that engages young people and adults.

The curriculum can be found here

Relationships & sex education - information, resources & support

Here you will find links to useful organisations, resources and other support for those involved in SRE policy development or delivery.

Links to useful sex & relationship education organisations
  • Brook advisory centres is the only national voluntary sector provider of free and confidential sexual health advice and services specifically for young people under 25. Brook’s education and outreach service provides support to programmes of SRE taking place in schools.
  • The centre for HIV and sexual health is a Sheffield-based service that acknowledges political, social and cultural factors and health inequalities which affect and determine people’s sexual health, as well as issues relating to individual experience, emotions, sexuality, sensuality and spirituality. It provides training and resources with an explicit aim of improving SRE quality.
  • The Christopher Winter Project (CWP) provides continuing professional development for teachers of SRE. They train and support teachers in the classroom using innovative, tried and tested lesson plans and resources for all key stages. CWP resources are available from their website.
  • EACH is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia. Among other activities, EACH delivers consultancy and training for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, children and young people's services and councils.
  • Education For Choice aims to promote and enable young people's right to informed choice on pregnancy and abortion through advocacy, direct work with young people and delivery of professional training.
  • FPA is a sexual health charity working to improve the sexual health of all people. FPA's purpose is to enable people in the UK to make informed choices about sex, free from exploitation, oppression and harm. They produce a range of leaflets and resources to support SRE delivery.
  • FORWARD is an African diaspora non-profit organisation with a mission to advance the health and human rights of African girls and women in the UK and Africa. FORWARD tackles harmful gender-based discriminatory practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, by enabling their partners and key stakeholders, including women and young people, to help shape the health and rights of African girls and women. Through advocacy, training and advice, research and resource development, FORWARD seeks to influence government and other statutory bodies in the area of policy development and implementation.
  • Image in Action teaches young people who have learning disabilities SRE using drama, group work and active learning. They’ve produced a number of resources to support sex and relationships work with people with learning difficulties.
  • Jewish AIDS Trust is the only organisation in the UK providing sexual health and HIV awareness programmes for the Jewish community and support for Jewish people living with HIV. They run sexual health education workshops in schools, youth clubs and summer camps. They also train youth workers from all the major Jewish youth organisations and run parents programmes to help them feel comfortable talking to their children about sex and sexual health.
  • Lions Life Skills works in the field of personal, social, health and citizenship education, particularly alcohol, drugs, tobacco and sexual health issues for children and young people.
  • Me and Us aims to significantly increase the quality and number of useful, practical resources for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), in particular sex and relationships education. Me and Us trains educators and health professionals in delivering PSHE education and has a particular interest in young people with special needs and learning disabilities.
  • National PSE Association for advisers, inspectors and consultants (NSCoPSE) is a professional organisation for advisors, inspectors and consultants with responsibility for supporting, monitoring and evaluating personal and social education in schools and colleges throughout England and Wales.
  • PSHE association exists to help teachers and other PSHE education professionals to better plan, manage, deliver, monitor and evaluate PSHE education provision.
  • Sex education forum (SEF) aims to ensure the entitlement of all children and young people to SRE in a variety of settings. The forum develops resources to promote best practice, provides advice and support to government and, as a membership organisation with 50 members, they articulate a common voice on SRE to the media. It holds regular meetings to explore and discuss emerging research, policy and practice and has produced a range of resources.
  • Terence Higgins Trust was one of the first HIV charities and has led the fight against HIV and AIDS. Their mission is to reduce the spread of HIV by providing services, which improve the quality of life of those affected.
  • Working With Men (WWM) implement and support work that benefits the development of men and boys. They also seek to raise awareness of issues impacting upon boys and men through projects, training, consultancy, research and the development of resources and publications.
Sex & relationship education websites
Sex & relationship education resources
Northumberland resource centre
The centre closed in 2017


Relationships & sex education case studies

This section gives you links for case studies relating to RSE.

Northumberland College peer education programme
This programme showed a good working relationship between the teenage pregnancy team and Northumberland College. The peer education programme was put in place to encourage difficult to engage young women to access long-acting reliable contraception (LARCs).

From initial focus group meetings, it was decided to visit Northumberland College to ask a number of young people their thoughts. We asked both young women and young men the following questions:
  • What do you know about LARC and their opinions on contraception and pregnancy in general?
  • What’s your idea of the government wanting to discourage young women from getting pregnant too early or by accident?
  • What incentives would encourage the use of the LARCs?
  • What would encourage the young women to try a LARC and to keep it in for the foreseeable future?
  • What information would the young women like to receive in order to possibly take part in the pilot scheme, should it happen?
  • Where would you want the information delivered?
  • How could we let other young women know about the scheme?
From the four groups of young people we talked to, the summary of findings were:
  • They all liked the idea of incentives but they were happy with a much lower level incentive than was first assumed.
  • After discussion, vouchers were decided to be a possible incentive with payments of £25 given at three months, six months and 12 months following the fitting of the LARC.
  • Information needed to be available at the places young women visit, as well as ongoing support offered after the fitting of a LARC. 
  • The young people asked if they could receive text messages to their mobile telephones, asking how they were doing following the LARC being fitted.
  • The Lilie system would be updated to include simple messages, which could be forwarded to mobile telephones, giving young people the opinion to speak to someone for additional support if necessary.
  • The idea of having a peer education group within the college, who receive extra training and deliver information to fellow peers, was presented.
With the information we received from these sessions, we looked into the possibility to work alongside the college to launch a pilot scheme.

Next steps
Following a discussion with Northumberland College, it was agreed a group of students completing a qualification in health and social care would be visited. It was explained the focus group were planning to complete a pilot peer education programme within the college and they were asked if they’d be interested in taking part. They were told they would complete an open college network progression award qualification at level two, which consisted of three units covering:
  • sex and relationship education (HJ1/2/QQ/009)
  • demonstrating speaking and listening (HD3/2/QQ/025)
  • developing personal confidence and self-awareness (HB6/2/QQ/008)
The course began in September 2010 and ran until January 2011, with 15 young people between 16 and 19 years old taking part.

It was also decided the peer educators would deliver an interactive presentation to their fellow peers throughout college, giving them a range of information relating to:
  • long acting reliable contraception
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • risk taking behaviours
  • information on the c-card programme
  • contraception and sexual health clinic within Northumberland College
What worked well?
  • working alongside the young people and ensuring they had a chance to share their thoughts
  • completion of qualification
  • support from course team leader to allow the programme to work
  • support given by the focus group and support funding received by the SHA
Northumberland public health award
The public health award is a 30-hour programme written by two workers based within the Northumberland teenage pregnancy team. It is delivered during 14 weeks to targeted year 10 students and facilitated in partnership with the Northumberland youth service.

What the award involves
The aim of the programme is to raise young people’s confidence, self-esteem, aspirations and to equip students with the skills and knowledge to make informed, healthy choices in life. It is delivered as part of a structured work experience placement, while also studying for the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) level one health awareness qualification and Life Routes ASDAN award for wider key skills.

The programme curriculum has been designed to be delivered using a variety of teaching approaches, in order to encourage positive attitudes towards learning, wellbeing and to support young people to progress with their learning and become responsible citizens. 

Group learning agreements develop young people’s views on what would make a positive learning environment and include solution-focused approaches to group work. Staff from the work experience placement, which tends to be a nursery or childcare setting, are encouraged to feed back to students on their progress.

14-week health studies include learning about:
  • hygiene
  • healthy eating
  • smoking
  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • personal safety
  • safety in society and within the wider community
  • sexual health education
Young people are encouraged to plan, deliver and evaluate supervised micro-teach lessons to toddlers about a chosen health topic. In addition to this, they should lead outdoor physical activities, such as co-facilitating dance and movement activities, with the toddlers.

The sense of achievement from the micro-teach lessons often results in young people having the confidence to share their aspirations and plan what skills will be required to meet their goals in life. This is able to be backed up with signposting to the Connexions service and support for further work experience opportunities.

Completion of the award
On completion of the course, which is popular with young men and women, there is an opportunity to complete a 20-question multiple choice exam to gain a qualification. The programme has run as a pilot in four schools and is being delivered by the youth service.

Contact us
For further details, please contact Jane Telfer at the teenage pregnancy team.
Seaton Valley youth service & Doxford youth project
This was a partnership effort to deliver sex and relationship education to year nine pupils at Astley Community High School.

Seaton Valley youth service are based within Astley Community High School. As the advanced youth work practitioner for Seaton Valley, a number of issues had been drawn to my attention by various other professionals.

This included low attendance at school sexual health drop-in sessions, a spike in the number of pupils requesting emergency contraception and support with pregnancy options, and a general feeling from young people about it being unclear where they could access support for sex and relationship issues in Seaton Valley. 

Partnership meetings
I felt a partnership approach was necessary to address the school’s current sex and relationship policy and to identify what could be done to ensure pupils received appropriate education. Partners included the youth service, the school, the sexual health nurse and a teenage pregnancy officer. 

This meeting resulted in:
  • a targeted girls’ group session for young people considered to be at risk of becoming pregnant at a young age. The group gained accredited outcome for their involvement (May-July 2010).
  • partnership delivery on school health days – 21st Century sex presentation delivered to year nine pupils (July 2010)
  • improved publicity of where pupils could access c-card, chlamydia screening, sexual health advice and contraceptive services in school
  • development of an SRE programme for year nine pupils (Sept-Dec 2010)
  • production of a leaflet around sexual health services in Seaton Valley by a group of young people (produced Dec 10-Feb 11, distribution to all pupils planned for April 2011)
Sex and relationship education for year nine pupils
It was considered important for the youth service to be more actively involved in the delivery of SRE to young people. Year nine pupils at Astley Community High School have a session every Wednesday entitled ‘enrichment'.  

This session is supposed to be about healthy activities and choices. It was agreed between the youth service and the school that, after the success of the targeted work with a group of girls previously, it would be beneficial to engage with the whole of year nine to look at SRE in their first term.

The motivation for this was to provide them information about SRE and also so we could ensure they were clear about what services were available, both in school and the wider community. The teenage pregnancy team supported us by delivering training to all staff involved in the sessions.

Session plan
Each year nine class had two sessions with the youth service team between September and December 2010.
Session one looked at the following areas:
  • introduce staff and ground rules     
  • sexual body parts and where you get your knowledge         
  • what love is
  • how to show someone you love them
  • evaluation
Session two looked at the following areas:
  • remind group of ground rules
  • why do young people have sex
  • pressure cooker
  • celebrities
  • what services can you access
  • c-card demo
  • evaluation
Comments from young people
The feedback from young people was extremely positive, with most saying they enjoyed the sessions and even if they hadn’t learnt anything new they now had a better understanding of where support services were in school. Some of the comments from young people were:
  • “I didn’t know what a dam was or what it could be used for, but now I do.”
  • “I learnt how to use a condom and that you can get flavoured ones.”
  • “I learnt that most people are over 16 when they have sex for the first time.”
  • “I enjoyed really thinking about the meaning of love.”
  • “It’s okay to wait and that there is no rush to have sex.”
  • “I learnt how to say no.”
  • “I have learned how to handle peer pressure.”
  • “I learnt how to get a c-card.”

Relationships & sex education subscription page

Welcome to the subscription page for relationships and sex education in Northumberland.

This service aims to support teachers and professional educators to deliver excellent, high-quality RSE for all children and young people in Northumberland. 

What’s available?
A range of commissioned and free of charge RSE packages in Northumberland are provided by Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for schools, youth, education and community settings.   Please get in touch for further information and details of the local offer.

Helen MacPhail
PSHE/SRE Specialist
Safeguarding & Wellbeing Team
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
NE61 2EF
Tel: 01670 622731

Jane Telfer
Health Improvement Specialist (Teenage Pregnancy & Sexual Health)
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

How can we help you?
An education provider who requests support may be supported in their teaching by the RSE core curriculum, as well as further information around the following
  • SRE core curriculum PDFs
  • SRE support and advice
  • SRE training courses
  • SRE resources
  • SRE external visitors
  • Support for parents and carers