Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) becomes compulsory in all schools this year. Primary schools will need to ensure they offer relationships education to their pupils and secondary schools will be required to deliver both relationships and sex education. In announcing these plans, the government has acknowledged the benefits of RSE both to children and wider society, particularly with reference to the prevention of domestic abuse. The plans have been received as a welcome development by many, including schools where this education is already being delivered and the positive impact can be seen. Many schools already offer RSE with many doing it well. The new reforms intend to ensure that all children and young people have the same access to a universal provision.
Equation have been delivering domestic abuse awareness and healthy relationship education to young people in schools across Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire via our Equate Package for many years and are big believers in the following five outcomes our projects and other good quality RSE can provide.
1) Increased Understanding of Relationships
RSE is vital in ensuring all young people have the opportunity to explore and learn about healthy relationships. RSE projects allow them to fully understand what relationships are, who they have them with and what the qualities of a healthy relationship look like. If young people have access to well-designed RSE they can begin to explore what relationships mean to them, what they consider to be important in a relationship, and what they themselves can offer in their own existing and future relationships.
2) Heightened Aspirations
Young people accessing relationships education will increase their aspirations for a healthy relationship, and this reduces their vulnerabilities to experiencing an unhealthy relationship. Young people will be able to recognise the warning signs of unhealthy relationships more readily. This is something that can otherwise be difficult for young people, as well as adults who did not receive relationships education. Recognising the signs of an unhealthy relationship is likely to increase their confidence that they deserve better, and encourage them to seek support.
3) Improved Confidence and Self-esteem
Young people are much more likely to have healthy, positive relationships when they have high levels of confidence and self-esteem. Relationships and sex education should not overlook the importance of ensuring young people understand positive coping strategies, know what they can do to make themselves feel good and how to support others to increase their own confidence. If a young person has low self-esteem they might feel that they need to have an intimate relationship to make themselves happy; this can lead to unrealistic expectations of the relationship and the young person may not be as happy as they expected. Encouraging young people to be comfortable with who they are before they begin a relationship can have a positive impact on the relationships of young people. It is important that young people know how to love themselves, know their self-worth and know that they and others deserve to be happy.
4) Better Understanding of Consent
Alongside healthy relationships education, young people also need to be able to access information about sex and consent. This is why Equation delivers sessions to young people on personal space. These sessions allow the young people to explore their rights and responsibilities over their own and other people’s bodies, the complexities of sex and consent and to develop a clear understanding of the legalities of consent. Young people often feed back to Equation after these sessions that they didn’t know about consent before; they want information to make free and informed decisions within relationships.
5) Prevention of Domestic Abuse
1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. By understanding more about relationships, young people become better equipped to identify when things are not right and feel more confident and supported in speaking out. RSE education increases the chances a child will know where to go for help and support should they ever need it. Even in instances where domestic abuse is not able to be fully prevented via RSE (for example, if it is already occurring within the child’s home), the harm it can cause can be significantly reduced.
Want to know more about how to get involved in Nottingham’s first RSE day as either a school, parent or organisation? Visit the Equation website for full details.