From September 2019, all UK schools and academies will provide Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) as part of the compulsory curriculum for children aged 4 and upwards.
The new curriculum will form the foundations of a much more balanced approach to teaching SRE, a subject that has been previously criticised in many schools for not providing a rounded view. Children will be given an age-appropriate education on topics such as sexting, puberty and contraception, but the government is keen for teachers to underpin these lessons with an important recurring theme: how youngsters can build and maintain healthy relationships.
The Department for Education has recognised the need to emphasise the ‘Relationships’ aspect of SRE, and has stated that this should form the focus of the compulsory lessons. It is important to remember that school can often be the primary source of knowledge for everything related to the subject, so the ability to reinforce the idea of healthy relationships alongside sex education could provide welcome relief for many students and their parents.
Understanding the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour within a relationship, and contextualising sex as part of a positive, healthy relationship, are among topics that will be openly discussed in classrooms following the introduction of the new SRE curriculum. These types of discussion aim to provide young people with the knowledge needed to protect themselves against numerous child protection and safeguarding risks, as well as boosting their emotional health and wellbeing.