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Being Brave with Relationships Education in Primary Settings

Relationships Education will become mandatory in primary school in England from September 2020. Richard Woolley and Sacha Mason look at how to approach teaching the new material with bravery and sensitivity.

Introducing a new curriculum area

Revised guidance for Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools in England is long overdue. The existing document was introduced in the year 2000, at a time before the equalisation of the age of consent for sexual relationships, the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act, the introduction of the Equality Act (2010) or civil partnerships and equal marriage. The title of that guidance document refers to relationship in the singular (perhaps inferring that people only have one) and puts this after sex in the title, when we, along with many other researchers in the field, have campaigned that relationships should be the underpinning context for sex education, arguing that it is better titled the other way around. The new statutory guidance, to be implemented from September 2020, focusses on Relationships Education (RE) as mandatory in primary schools, with Sex Education optional, and Relationships and Sex Education as mandatory for secondary schools. It provides the opportunity for children to learn about relationships in many forms, with particular emphasis on five areas:1

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