Half of secondary school teachers don’t feel confident delivering sex and relationships education

We have a launched a new UK-wide service called Talk Relationships to help teachers deliver sex and relationships education more confidently. 


We believe high-quality sex and relationships education is crucial for safeguarding children. However, a new joint survey from NASUWT and NSPCC of 1,034 secondary school teachers in the UK fnds almost half of secondary school teachers (46%) say they don’t feel confident teaching sex and relationships education. 

The survey also revealed:

  • over a quarter of teachers don’t feel confident answering difficult or sensitive questions in lessons
  • the majority of teachers (86%) feel they need more resources and training in this subject area
  • and 57% think the level of support from the government has been poor.

Other findings from the survey found that many teachers lack confidence when it comes to delivering certain topics covered in sex and relationships education:

  • 40% don’t feel confident delivering lessons on pornography
  • less than a third feel very confident delivering lessons on consent
  • only 19% feel very confident delivering lessons on harmful sexual behaviour and sexual harassment.

The survey highlighted that teachers want better support, and we’re calling on the new Secretary of State for education, MP Kit Malthouse, to prioritise guidance and training around sex and relationships education.

One teacher surveyed said: 

“I’ve never been trained, and I’ve always delivered this curriculum on personal, social, citizenship and health education (PSCHRE) days with a large group of students, most of whom I do not know. Not having a rapport with these students makes it harder to teach sensitive topics meaningfully.”

Talk Relationships

To support teachers, we are launching a new UK-wide service called Talk Relationships

This new service includes:

  • an online e-learning course which is free for a limited time
  • 14 lesson plans developed in partnership with the PSHE Association
  • lesson plans focusing on a wide range of topics that are included in the curriculum such as sexual harassment, healthy relationships and sharing sexual images.

The Talk Relationships eLearning aims to increase teacher confidence in areas such as responding to safeguarding concerns in a classroom setting, managing challenging questions from young people and leading inclusive discussions.

The launch of Talk Relationships comes following a pilot of the resources in 101 secondary schools. In the feedback 82% of teachers said the materials had made a difference to their professional practice. We’ve found significant increases in teacher confidence among teachers completing the training modules.

Access Talk Relationship's e-learning course and lesson plans

We are also launching a dedicated helpline, where our experts will offer help and advice to any teacher with a question or safeguarding concern.

Teachers can get in touch with the dedicated Talk Relationships helpline by calling 0800 389 5347 or emailing [email protected] with ‘Talk Relationships’ in the subject line.

The helpline is available from 8am-10pm Monday to Friday and 9am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Maria Neophytou, NSPCC Director of Strategy and Knowledge said: 

“Sex and relationships education is vital for young people as it helps them understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and that they have a right to be safe, heard and respected.

The NSPCC has championed a holistic approach towards sex and relationships education across the UK for many years and following on from the thousands of testimonies off the back of the Everyone’s Invited movement, it’s clear that this education is now more important than ever before.

Therefore, it’s essential there are resources available to teachers like those provided in Talk Relationships so they can feel confident engaging with pupils and delivering a range of diverse topics, whether consent, sexuality or online safety.”

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: 

“The provision of high quality SRE should be a core component of the curriculum in every school to enable young people to keep themselves and others safe and to help them make informed choices. 

The NASUWT has campaigned for PSHE and SRE to be key elements within all initial teacher training routes and continuing professional development packages. However, it is evident from the findings of our joint survey that many teachers do not currently feel they are being equipped with the tools or time they need to be able to teach about these sensitive topics confidently. 

Teachers cannot provide pupils with the guidance and information they need if they are not themselves given ongoing access to pedagogical and practical training and advice. The Talk Relationships service will provide a valuable package of support for teachers, but the new Secretary of State must also step up to the plate by ensuring access to comprehensive training for teachers and ensuring that every school can benefit from specialist external sources of direct support and expertise.”