Created in collaboration with our Ofsted expert. 




From September 2019, all schools will be required to teach RSE to pupils from the age of four onwards, although primary-aged children will be taught relationships education only. Schools will need to have a clear RSE curriculum in place, which is planned and outlined according to government criteria.

Ofsted is now looking at the design of the whole curriculum, particularly focussing on RSE and ensuring this provides pupils with support as they move onto the next part of their education.

This guidance document outlines how Ofsted looks at RSE, including how schools’ RSE provision is inspected, what Ofsted considers good RSE to look like, and how the introduction of statutory RSE will likely affect the inspection process.


How does Ofsted inspect RSE?


The Ofsted inspection framework requires that PSHE/RSE lessons are subject to the same expectations as other subjects in relation to the achievement of pupils and the quality of teaching.

RSE within the PSHE programme will make a significant contribution to Ofsted judgements of the school’s provision under the ‘Behaviour’ (particularly with regards to issues around prejudice-based bullying) and ‘Leadership and management’ areas – personal development is also reported on within the wider category of ‘Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development’.

Schools must take into account that, to offer a broad curriculum, they must prepare pupils for their next stages of life.


What does good practice RSE look like?


Ofsted would consider a school to be following good practice in relation to RSE if their provision:

  • Is appropriate to the age and capability of their pupils, and allows pupils to have an excellent understanding of relationships and sexual development.
  • Covers sexual consent and human rights with regards to physical harm and sexual exploitation.
  • Enables pupils to understand how to keep themselves and others healthy and safe.
  • Makes pupils understand the impact of bullying on others and actively challenges all forms of bullying including homophobic and transphobic language.
  • Teaches pupils from a young age to consider that families exist beyond the conventional images of two parent families, such as single parent families.
  • Is reinforced to allow younger pupils to discuss RSE through text in literacy or cross-curricular topics.
  • Covers pupils’ body changes and the different feelings they might experience as their bodies change.

Ofsted does not have a preferred method for teaching RSE; however, they do consider the context of the curriculum and, in particular, how it supports the most vulnerable pupils.


Ofsted’s approach after September 2019


Ofsted is currently looking at its framework and at how the changes to the RSE curriculum might influence inspections. The inspection process will change to reflect any statutory obligations.

A huge directional change from Ofsted is to look at how schools design the curriculum to meet the needs of their community. Schools must look carefully at the needs of their pupils and ensure that these are met – RSE may, for some school communities, need a thorough and well implemented curriculum to support the most vulnerable pupils.


What’s next?


To help schools prepare for the introduction of statutory RSE, we have explored the actions schools should take to ensure they can deliver an effective RSE curriculum when September 2019 arrives – these tips are all outlined in our Statutory RSE: Tips to Help Schools Prepare guidance.