PSHE and RE information for parents
Effective Relationship Education is a partnership between parents and schools. Due to COVID-19, we are unable to hold our usual parent meetings to share the curriculum and answer your questions. We have sent out the curriculum information to you regarding some specific sex eduation lessons via your children and an email so that you can make a decision regarding your chil’d participation. We have also tried to anticipate some of your questions regarding the lessons, Government guidance and changes to legislation here.
Why does my child have to participate in Relationships Education?
New guidance and regulations have been passed in Parliament. The new requirements are that all secondary schools teach RSE and all primary schools teach Relationships Education with a programme of sex education.
What is Relationships Education?
Relationships education (RE) is learning about the emotional, social and physical aspects of growing up and relationships and includes some parts of sex education (this is also delivered as part of the Science and PSHE curriculums). Over your child’s time in school, it will equip them for the future - with the information, skills and positive values to have safe, fulfilling relationships, to enjoy their sexuality and to take responsibility for their well-being as they grow into adults.
What do we believe is good quality Relationships Education?
We believe that good quality RE is an entitlement for all children and must:
- Be accurate and factual, covering information about sex, relationships and the law, in order to make informed future choices;
- Be positively inclusive in terms of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, culture, age, religion or belief or other life-experiences;
- Include the development of skills to support healthy and safe relationships and ensure good communication about these issues;
- Promote a critical awareness of the different attitudes and views within society such as peer norms and those portrayed in the media;
- Provide opportunities for reflection in order to nurture personal values based on mutual respect and care;
- Be part of lifelong learning, starting early in childhood and continuing throughout life; reflecting the age and level of the learner;
- Ensure children are clearly informed of their rights such as how they can access confidential advice and health services within the boundaries of safeguarding;
- Be relevant and meet the needs of children, and actively involve them as participants, advocates and evaluators in developing good quality provision;
- Be delivered by competent and confident educators;
Be provided within a learning environment which is safe for the children and adults involved and based on the principle that prejudice, discrimination and bullying are harmful and unacceptable.
What is covered in RE?
The aim of Relationships Education in primary schools is to protect children.
The new Government guidance is set out under the following headings:
- Families and people who care for me
- Caring friendships
- Respectful relationships
- Online relationships
- Being safe
Children need to be able to recognise abusive behaviour and to know how to seek help if they are worried about abuse or experience it. The new guidance states that by the end of primary school all children should know: ‘how to report concerns or abuse, and the vocabulary and confidence needed to do so’.
The Equalities Act
We believe that, in line with new Government guidance, Relationships Education should promote equal, safe and enjoyable relationships and be taught in a way which cultivates understanding of LGBT and gender equality, in line with the Equalities Act 2010.
How is sex eduation taught?
Relationships Education, Health Education, and science are used to deliver sex education to children. These subjects are used together to protect children by ensuring they have knowledge of their bodies, the human life-cycle, emotions, acceptable behaviour and right and wrong.
What is the right age to start teaching RE and sex education?
We will be teaching RE through a spiral curriculum which develops with the child, throughout all of the EYFS and primary phase. RE begins with teaching children about appropriate behaviour, safety and basic understanding of their bodies and how families care for them. Five year olds are not taught about how people have sex.
What the Government says should be covered in sex education?
We follow the recommendation in the new Government guidance, that all primary schools ‘have a sex education programme tailored to the age and the physical and emotional maturity of the pupils'.
The guidance continues that: 'Schools should ensure that both boys and girls are prepared for:
- the changes that adolescence brings and – drawing on knowledge of the human life cycle set out in the national curriculum for science - how a baby is conceived and born’.
What is covered in sex education in Primary?
Health Education is mandatory in all primary schools in England - sex education is delivered as part of this. This includes topics on:
- the changing adolescent body,
- menstrual wellbeing and the menstrual cycle.
Does RE including sex education damage children?
No, the reverse is true.
Every child needs RE. One reason is that sexual abuse can happen to any child. Statistics show that abusers are usually known to a child and often within their family. This is one reason why it’s of fundamental importance that every child receives relationships education.
Surveys have shown that adolescents and young adults who have had good quality RE throughout school:
- cite school as their main source of information about sex
- are less likely to contract an STI
- (for young women) to be pregnant by 18 or experience an unplanned pregnancy in later life (Tanton 2015)
- are more likely to start having sex at an older age
- and more likely to use condoms and contraception if they do have sex (Kirby 2007 and UNESCO 2018)
Can I withdraw my child from sex education?
Parents have a right to withdraw their children from SE taught outside of the Science Curriculum.
Do parents support RE?
Most parents are very supportive of schools providing relationships and sex education, and also want to play a part in educating their children at home.
- 78% of parents want primary schools to teach their children about the difference between safe and unwanted touch and how to speak up if someone treats them inappropriately.
- 72% of parents think primary schools should teach children about what to do if they find pictures showing private parts of the body online or are asked to send them.
92% of parents support the teaching of PSHE education (which includes lessons about staying safe from abuse) in all schools.
What to do if children ask questions about sex?
We know that children are interested in 'where babies comes from' and what makes boys and girls different from a very young age. It is natural for children to be curious and ask questions about these things.
Children take in the information around them about sex and relationships from a very young age even if no-one talks to them about it. Many of the things they pick up are incorrect and confusing. For this reason it is important that the adults in children’s lives answer their questions to help them make sense of it all.
Adults often find questions about sex and relationships difficult and embarrassing - but if they are able to answer in an honest and confident way this will set the tone for children - making it easier for them to bring up similar topics as they are growing up.
What legislation has been introduced?
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced legislation on relationships and sex education in schools. In July 2018 the Government identified how this would be implemented giving schools time to prepare to teach high quality RE. By Summer term 2021 all schools are expected to be ready to teach the new RE curriculum.