Sex and Relationships Education

Sex and Relationships Education

Sex and Relationships Education is a vital tool for enhancing a young person’s knowledge about sexual health and relationships, preparing them for happy, healthy and fulfilling relationships into adulthood, as well as encouraging healthy attitudes to others in society. 

According to the current guidance for sex & relationships education in schools, Welsh Government recognises that schools play a central role in having a positive and sustained impact on children and young people’s sexual health and well-being. Welsh Government believes that all learners in Wales should receive high-quality sex and relationships education (SRE) as part of their personal and social development.

Under the current guidance, governing bodies of all maintained schools are required to make, and keep up to date, a separate written statement of their policy with regard to the provision of sex education.

Schools are also required to make copies of this available for inspection by parents of registered pupils at the school. They must also provide a copy of the statement free of charge to any parent who asks for one. The policy must include a statement about the parents’ right to withdraw their child from sex education.

Primary schools are not required to provide sex education as part of the basic curriculum. Primary schools can provide sex education but whether they do so is at the discretion of the school.

All maintained secondary schools are required to include sex education for all registered pupils as part of the basic curriculum of the school.

Maintained special schools and Pupil Referral Units can provide sex education for primary age learners. They must provide sex education for secondary age learners registered at the school.

A review of the curriculum in Wales was initiated by Welsh Government in 2014, under the leadership of Professor Graham Donaldson, with the report from this review published in February 2015. Recommendations include recognising that a purpose of the curriculum in Wales should be that children and young people develop as healthy, confident individuals who ‘know how to find the information and support to keep safe and well’ and ‘take measured decisions about lifestyle and manage risk’. In light of this, strengthening sex and relationships education in education settings will likely follow from this report.

Sex and Relationships Education in Community Settings

It is recognised that sex and relationships education is not just the business of the mainstream school curriculum. Young people can and should receive information and guidance in any settings that they attend, including youth services, community centres, residential care settings and more. To this end, arising from a task within the Sexual Health & Wellbeing Action Plan for Wales, 2010-2015, the FPAdevised guidance for delivering sex and relationships education in community-based settings for the All Wales Sexual Health Network in 2012. This guidance is aimed at professionals delivering sex and relationships education in community-based settings, to help them prepare for, design and deliver effective, relevant and engaging sex and relationships education for young people.

Sex and Relationships Education at Home

It is important to acknowledge the vital role that parents can play on a young person’s sex education. The evidence base for parental involvement in sex and relationships education is strong, from both the parental and young person’s perspective, as these examples from a 2011 evidence briefing from the Sex Education Forum show. 

  • Nine out of ten parents surveyed in one region of England felt they should discuss sex with their children, but only half reported actually doing so (Ingham and Carrera 1998 – survey of 750 parents in Wessex). In another survey with 500 Bristol parents, 77 per cent said children should be getting information about sex and relationships from their parents (NHS Bristol 2009).
  • Half of young people aged 11-14 in one survey said they wanted to talk about sex with parents because they don’t trust the information they get from friends (Populus 2008).

 

With this in mind, arising from a task within the Sexual Health & Wellbeing Action Plan for Wales, 2010-2015,  the All Wales Sexual Health Network commissioned the FPA to develop downloadable ‘Parent Advice Sheets’, to help parents in their discussions with their children about sexual health and growing up. The series of twelve bilingual advice sheets are available to download from the resources database.

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Tea Consent

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Half of young people aged 11-14 in one survey said they wanted to talk about sex with parents because they don’t trust the information they get from friends
Populus 2008

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