New consultation on relationships education for four-year-olds

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The Government is consulting on plans to modernise sex education, which include mandatory relationships education for four-year-olds.


Following the introduction of the Children And Social Work Act, primary school-aged children in schools must receive relationships education. At secondary schools, ‘sex and relationships’ education is designed to reflect a need to protect children from issues such as cyberbullying and sexting. This applies to all schools, including academies.

The current statutory guidance for teaching Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) was introduced in 2000 and makes no mention of the internet.

Parents will not be able to withdraw their child from relationships education at primary school (though they will for sex education at secondary level).

Relationships education at primary school will focus on:

  • different types of relationships, including friendships, family relationships, dealing with strangers;
  • how to recognise and understand healthy and unhealthy relationships,
  • healthy relationships and safety online
  • how relationships may affect health and wellbeing.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

‘It is unacceptable that Relationships and Sex Education guidance has not been updated for almost 20 years especially given the online risks, such as sexting and cyber bullying, our children and young people face. Young people must have an education that teaches them the importance of healthy and stable relationships.

‘This call for evidence is about giving teachers, parents and especially young people a chance to help shape that new approach and I’d urge them to take part.’

The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 12 February 2018

The consultation can be found here

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