Internet Matters response to the Relationship Education, RSE and health education consultation

By Claire Levens on

In July 2018, the Department for Education opened a consultation into the draft regulations, statutory guidance, and regulatory impact assessment relating to their proposal to teach relationships education at primary school, relationships and sex education at secondary school and health education at all state-funded schools.

The responses to the consultation will help inform any further refining of the draft regulations and statutory guidance before the regulations are put before Parliament and the guidance finally published.

We were delighted to participate in this latest consultation on the guidance on RE /RSE lessons. Whilst it was good to see that there was a nod towards online safety education, in our judgment this guidance misses some critical points:

  • Moving from primary to secondary school is not called out at all as a specific time of concern or need for students and parents. Yet our research suggests that this is a time when most children receive their first smartphone, which is the first step to real independence online. Parents are concerned about online bullying and whether their child will be pressured into participating on specific social media platforms. Children on the other hand often set up multiple social media accounts.

Special provision should be made for children in Years 6 & 7 and it is a missed opportunity not to cover this in the guidance.

  • Online risk and harm are not spread evenly across the population. We know from research we have supported by Youthworks Consultancy that there is a direct correlation between offline vulnerabilities and online risk and harm. Again, this is completely missing from the guidance and should form a crucial part of it.

Significantly more work needs to be done in this area to ensure that our most vulnerable children and those who have substantial but time-limited concerns are well supported.

Download full consultation response

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Visit the Department for Education website to find out more about the draft regulations, impact assessment and the guidance on RSE and health education.

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