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#1 What is relationships and sex education?

Relationships and sex education (RSE) is learning about the emotional, social and physical aspects of growing up, relationships, sex, human sexuality and sexual health. It should equip children and young people with the information, skills and positive values to have safe, fulfilling relationships, to enjoy their sexuality and to take responsibility for their sexual health and well-being.

The Sex Education Forum believes that good quality RSE is an entitlement for all children and young people and must:

  • Be accurate and factual, covering a comprehensive range of information about sex, relationships, the law and sexual health, in order to make informed choices. In schools this should be part of compulsory curriculum provision;
  • Be positively inclusive in terms of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, culture, age, religion or belief or other life-experience particularly HIV status and pregnancy;
  • 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 on sex and relationships 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. It should reflect the age and level of the learner;
  • Ensure children and young people 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 young people, 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, young people and adults involved and based on the principle that prejudice, discrimination and bullying are harmful and unacceptable.