Today, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM, made the welcome announcement that Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) will become a statutory part of Wales’ new curriculum for children aged five to 16, from 2022.
Welsh Women’s Aid formed part of the Expert Panel that advised the Cabinet Secretary on changes to the curriculum. The panel recommendations included ensuring a more consistent approach to teaching children about healthy and safe relationships and about rights, gender and sexual equality, which is backed up by effective training and professional development for teachers.
Eleri Butler, CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid said:
“We are delighted the new curriculum in Wales will make learning about healthy relationships statutory for all schools, including important lessons on consent, relationship abuse, sexual equality and respecting diversity and tolerance.
“This is a positive step towards eradicating violence and abuse in our schools and communities. We know that almost 20% of younger students aged 11-14 in Wales have experienced verbal abuse in relationships at least once or more, which rises to almost 40% of students aged 15-16. We also know that up to 1 in 5 girls at secondary schools in Wales report they’ve experienced unwanted touching, groping or kissing by a boy whilst in school at least once.
“It’s vital that children and young people learn about age-appropriate relationships and sexuality education, and have access to high-quality learning and support about equality, safety, sexual consent and healthy relationships.
“This education must be delivered by trained and skilled teachers, in partnership with domestic abuse and sexual violence specialist services. Schools also need to be better equipped to identify and support disclosures from pupils, parents and staff, and make sure there are clear routes to access support in the local community.
“To help achieve this, Welsh Women’s Aid has been commissioned by Welsh Government to develop a resources for Key Stage 3 teachers, in partnership with NSPCC and education experts. The package will provide teachers with initial training and the resources to deliver relationships and sexuality education in their schools.”
Welsh Women’s Aid’s demand for compulsory relationships and sexuality education in Wales is supported by women who have experienced domestic and sexual abuse.
Angela*, a survivor of domestic abuse said:
“I want my daughter and her friends to know. I wish I’d had more knowledge, I never saw it coming … but we just didn’t have any education, any awareness. I didn’t know there were services here to help me. This should be taught in all schools.”
Anyone in need of help, information and support can call Wales Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or ChildLine on 0800 1111, for free at any time of day or night.
 School Health Research Network survey of 35,071 students from 87 secondary schools in Wales (SHRN, 2015).