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Open University partners with Brook on RSE support from Local Authorities

Academics from the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care within WELS have worked with sexual health and wellbeing charity, Brook, on a new report on young people’s sexual health ‘Lessons for the new era of mandatory RSE’.

RSE (Relationship and Sex Education) is now a mandatory topic in secondary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the OU/Brook research was carried out in order to support and inform schools in planning for this.

The report focuses on the ways that Local Authorities (LAs) support schools with providing RSE, how they support sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and how they support links between schools and sexual health services.

Lesley Hoggart is Professor of Social Policy Research at the OU. Her research interests are focused on reproductive health, abortion policy and politics, teenage pregnancy and sexual health and she led the OU research for the Brook report. She says:

“We know that RSE is most effective in helping young people with reproductive control when it connects young people with friendly contraceptive services. This research with Brook has shown that much more needs to be done at a local level to ensure that happens.”

Although the report found that the majority of LAs give good support to RSE in schools, the extent and nature of that support varied significantly. Currently, lack of funding and lack of capacity are the main barriers to improving RSE provision in schools where improvement is needed.

The report recommended that Local Authorities, schools and service providers must all play their part if young people are to get excellent RSE and experience positive sexual and reproductive health.


The collaborative research was initiated from the OU’s Reproduction, Sexualities & Sexual Health Research Group (RSSH). Co-ordinated by Dr Victoria Newton, who was also involved in this new research, RSSH has previously worked with Brook to deliver an online course to support teachers in providing abortion education in schools, supporting their role in delivering vital education to young people about pregnancy prevention and pregnancy options.


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