About the report

On 23rd March 2023, we released the second report from The Pupil Safeguarding Review. A survey of over 70,000 pupils during Autumn Term 2022/23. Our first report sought to answer the question, “do pupils feel safe, and do they know what to do if they do not?”. The second report investigates how pupils feel about coverage of safeguarding and related topics in the current curriculum and how it could be improved. We explore the following three things: 

  1. Coverage of the RSE/PSHE curriculum: what pupils have learned in lessons and what they would like to learn more about.
  2. Pupil perceptions of value: how useful they perceived their RSE/PSHE lessons to be and what they think would make their lessons more useful.
  3. Support from teachers: how often their teachers could answer their questions on RSE and the types of questions teachers couldn't answer.

Pupils reported many interconnected challenges and problems within this report. It’s important to consider all findings in the context of school and curriculum improvement and to note that no single change offers a quick-fix solution. Leaders will need to look carefully at the whole picture outlined in our report before taking action.

What did we learn about safeguarding in the curriculum?

Only 44% of secondary pupils who responded reported that they had been taught about intimate relationships, including sexual health, in the last year.
A graph to show "in the last year, which topics pupils have learned about." Showing "being safe to be the most learned about. and relationships with other adults and relationships with family and people who care about me, as they least learned about.

Intimate relationships are a statutory curriculum module in secondary schools. Despite this, only 44% of secondary-aged pupils report they were taught about it in the last year. In the report, we can also see in collected open-answer responses that secondary-aged pupils felt that teachers were uncomfortable answering questions about intimate relationships, among other things.

Despite pupils reporting that they felt safest online, less than half of pupils said they had learned about online relationships.
A graph to show percentage of pupils who have learnt about online relationships, by phase. Showing Pupils from Secondary schools reported learning about online relationships, less then primary pupils.

In our first report, we looked at pupils' feelings of safety. We found that pupils felt safest online compared to in-school or outside of school. We highlighted the risk that this may be a false sense of safety based on pupils not being as aware of issues online as those they experience in person. In this report, we looked at what pupils said they had learned in the last year. Here, we saw only 48% of primary pupils and 41% of secondary school pupils had learnt about online relationships. In summary, whilst pupils report feeling safer online, not many pupils report having learnt about online relationships. Which is an important aspect of online safety.

83% of the primary school pupils who responded said their RSE/PSHE lessons were useful, compared to only 49% of secondary pupils.
A graph to show how useful each year groups found lessons about relationships, safety and how to behave. This graph shows a decrease in positive responses as pupils get older.

We found that the older pupils are, the less likely they were to report finding RSE/PSHE lessons useful. Only 49% of secondary pupils found these lessons useful. Pupils suggested that lessons could be made more useful if the examples used were more relevant and representative. Including different types of relationships or tackling “real-world” issues such as financial management were suggestions made by pupils.

3 in 10 secondary school pupils reported that teachers struggle to answer questions.

Secondary school pupils were less confident that teachers could answer their questions during lessons about relationships, safety and how to behave. 70% of secondary school pupils reported that teachers could always or often answer questions. Leaving 30% of pupils who felt that this was possible half the time or less. When asked what questions pupils felt that teachers couldn't answer, they highlighted relationships, relationship problems and mental health. Pupils also felt the questions they wanted to ask teachers were personal, inappropriate or embarrassing.

Recommendations for heads of departments and School leaders

Within the report, The Key offers commentary and recommendations for heads of departments, safeguarding leads, school leaders and policy writers. Here we look at 3 of these areas of recommendation: the designing of a more effective and representative PSHE curriculum, providing CPD to boost teachers’ confidence in key subject matters and creating a safer learning environment for PSHE lessons.

Design a more effective and representative PSHE curriculum that:

  • Explicitly supports a whole-school culture of safety 
  • Features engaging PSHE lessons about relevant topics, using real-life examples
  • Is representative of all pupils
  • Embeds pupil voice 
  • Is planned to maximise engagement and learning by using effective pedagogical techniques.

Provide CPD to boost teachers’ confidence in key subject matters and:

  • Ensure teachers are equipped with the necessary vocabulary, knowledge and understanding to answer these questions 
  • Develop teachers’ knowledge of LGBTQ+ sex and relationships 
  • Help teachers be clear on what pupil questions they should answer (and how) and where to direct pupils if they can’t offer an answer.

Create a safe learning environment for PSHE lessons.

To make sure that pupils belonging to the LGBTQ+ community feel represented and safe to learn about and discuss LGBTQ+ relationships, it will be essential for schools to foster a culture of inclusion. Schools should review their behaviour policies to: 

  • Explicitly set out their approach to tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
  • Ensure that pupils feel safe and respected at all times.

How to get your own copy of the Safeguarding in the curriculum report

If you have found these insights interesting. We would thoroughly recommend reading the full Pupil Safeguarding Review: Safeguarding in the curriculum report.

The Pupils Safeguarding Review: Report 1 - cover - Link attached to take you to download form.

It includes recommendations and suggestions provided by our partners at The Key for implementing change and development based on the findings of this report that may be of use to your school/trust. 

Run your own Edurio Pupil Safeguarding Survey

Having read about what we learnt by running the Pupil Safeguarding Review, you may be interested in running a Pupil Safeguarding Survey across your school/trust. The best way to do that is to reach out to one of our team. We can then set up a call to talk you through how Edurio can help you.

Where to find our other reports!

Our Safeguarding in the curriculum report is the most recent report that has been released this year. Here is a list of our other publications released this year.