Internet Matters’ response to the Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) review

A teacher helps a student with their laptop.

Simone Vibert and Lizzie Reeves from Internet Matters respond to the Relationships, Sex, Health and Education (RSHE) review to advise on issues of online safety and their inclusion in statutory guidance.

Why is there a review of Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE)?

The Department for Education introduced Relationships, Sex and Health Education to schools in September 2020. The purpose of RSHE is to support children to make informed decisions about their health, wellbeing and relationships – including romantic relationships, family relationships and friendships. Topics should be taught in an age-appropriate and sensitive way.

The statutory guidance instructs schools on the content that they should teach pupils and at what ages:

  • All primary and secondary school pupils must receive Relationships and Health Education
  • Secondary schools must teach Sex Education. However, parents have the right to request that their child is withdrawn from some or all sex education lessons. Primary schools have discretion to teach sex education in an age-appropriate way.

The Department for Education is conducting a review of the RSHE statutory guidance in line with the 3-year review cycle. In particular, the Department for Education will look to ensure that:

  • RSHE is taught in an age-appropriate and factual way
  • The curriculum adequately covers priority areas including mental health, suicide prevention and violence against women and girls.

Why is Internet Matters responding to the RSHE review?

The online world is a part of almost every aspect of children’s relationships – both friendships and intimate relationships. Use of digital devices also impacts mental health and wellbeing – both for the better and worse.

It is crucial that teaching about relationships, sex and health incorporates a focus on children’s engagement with online spaces. This includes ensuring that young people have the skills they need to navigate their digital lives safely, and to manage their own and others’ behaviour online.

Using our rich insights into children’s online lives and digital parenting, Internet Matters are submitting evidence to the first stage of the RSHE Review.

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