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SPHR Impact case study

Implementing evidence-based best practice criteria in Sex and Relationship Education (SRE)

The SPHR project ‘Implementing evidence-based best practice criteria in sex and relationship education‘ within our Children, Young People and Families research programme is an excellent example of how our public health research has had local, national and international impact.

The project was led by SPHR academics at the University of Bristol in collaboration with a project advisory board including a Director of Public Health, a Chair of regional sexual health network, a local teacher and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) and two interested members of the public. 

PolicyBristol briefing was produced that outlined the research findings, policy implications and best practice criteria. This was used to engage policy-makers and sent to 44 MPs with an interest in the topic area, plus 10 associated clerks and civil servants.

This lead to several responses from MPs, members of the House of Lords and the Women and Equalities Committee followed by an invite to attend a consultation on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at the Department for Education.


National engagement and policy impact

The above work led to the research findings informing a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology research briefing or POSTnote, citing the research:


POSTnotes are four-page summaries of public policy issues that inform parliamentarians of the key points on a topic area that is moving into the political agenda.

The POSTnote briefing report was shared with a range of external stakeholders including:

  • Local Authorities
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • School and Public Health Nurses Association
  • LGBT+ organisations such as Stonewall and Terence Higgins Trust
  • English Sexual Health Commissioners
  • Local Government Association (and featured in a briefing)
  • Over 20 campaigning organisations, including Sex Education Forum and PSHE Association

International engagement and policy impact

The briefing was also sent to international organisations such as UNESCO.

Following this, UNESCO integrated the findings into recently revised edition of International technical guidance on sexuality educationrecognising that this constitutes some of the most reliable and contemporary evidence on SRE available to us.’

Ongoing engagement and impact

A short film is currently being prepared with the aim of highlighting best practice and to further knowledge exchange between researchers and stakeholders. This will be shared with practice, policy and relevant stakeholders.

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