Relationships and Sex Education – teach children early about healthy relationships

Published: Tuesday 26th February 2019

Today, 25 February, Parliament is debating new government guidance on the teaching of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) from 2020, including a debate on a petition calling for parents to be able to withdraw their children from RSE when it becomes statutory in 2020.

The draft guidance was developed in consultation with schools, parents, faith bodies and organisations with expertise in the field, and already provides for parents who wish to withdraw their child from sex education.

Coram Life Education (CLE) works in partnership with primary schools to make sure that children learn about the changes they will experience as they grow up, and to develop the knowledge, skills and strategies to enable them to respond to those changes in a way that is healthy and safe.

Harriet Gill, Managing Director of Education & Wellbeing at Coram, said:

“Children are more likely to feel empowered and safe from harm if they have healthy friendships, treat others with kindness and respect and are prepared for puberty. They need to understand the effects of drugs and alcohol and know how to use the internet responsibly.”

“As soon as children become curious about the world, they should be able to turn to the adults around them who feel equipped to respond in a positive and confident manner, with the facts, so that we normalise experiences of healthy relationships (including those with friends and family) both off and online, from an early age. To do otherwise is to risk keeping children ignorant of the facts, instead relying on potentially unreliable sources of information from friends or online.”

“It is important to dispel the myth that RSE can encourage early sexual activity. Research has consistently shown that children who have received good quality RSE are less likely to contract an STI, to have an early or unplanned pregnancy and are more likely to start having sex at an older age and use contraception.”

Coram Life Education’s approach is also supported by an overwhelming majority of parents who believe that relationships education (92% of parents support the teaching of PSHE education, including staying safe from abuse), should start as early as possible in a child’s life. With expert delivery in 1 in 9 UK primary schools, CLE offers Relationship Education and the SCARF programme that delivers the new statutory requirements with comprehensive, age-appropriate lesson plans, teacher guidance as well as sessions led by our educators.

For many children, being taught this subject can encourage disclosure of sexual abuse, and even prevent it. This is because children who learn about their bodies, including their rights regarding privacy, consent and body ownership, are more likely to identify when abuse has occurred and know where to go for help if something is happening that they are not comfortable with.

Harriet added:

“The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, has recommended that schools implement the new guidelines from September 2019. It is vital that compulsory, age-appropriate Relationships Education is taught as part of the curriculum from an early age to give children a solid grounding in the emotional, social and physical aspects of growing up so that they can make the right decisions and stay safe.”

 CLE Relationships Education