Barnardo’s publishes relationships and sex education recommendations and calls on Government to issue RSE guidance

Barnardo’s welcomes the Department of Education’s revised safeguarding guidance published  on Thursday 17 May which includes advice on how to deal with sexual violence and harassment in school.

While the leading children’s charity supports the ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ advice, it is urging the Government to publish its consultation on the guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE) as soon as possible.  

The charity is also unveiling its own research with young people today on what they want from RSE lessons, which includes nine key recommendations to the Government based on the views of the young people Barnardo’s supports.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

We are delighted that the Government has recognised the problem of sexual violence in schools and welcome the guidance on dealing with incidents.

However, we urge the Government to tackle this issue by also publishing its consultation on the guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE) without further delay.

This guidance is key to helping children understand healthy relationships, respect, consent and stay safe online.

As well us featuring the opinions of young people, our report  ‘Involve Us, Respect Us’ includes recommendations for educators on how to deliver the new age-appropriate relationships and sex education lessons.

Three young people supported by Barnardo’s contributed to the report:

Young person A said:

When I was in school I was never taught about the warning signs of grooming, nor was I ever taught the importance of healthy relationships. I just went with whatever the TV or other aspects in life took me. I was never taught about the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship – if I was I wouldn’t have gone down the dark path like I did. These lessons are just as important as Maths and English.

Young person B said:

I used to speak to someone online and I was convinced it was my boyfriend. And I have no idea who they were. I was in year 7. Because I hadn’t been taught anything I thought he was a friend and at that age you just think ‘yeah he can be my boyfriend’. Now obviously I realise and think ‘what was I doing?

Young person C said:

In secondary school I had zero confidence. Back when sexual desire and appearance was such an important thing, I thought nothing of myself physically throughout secondary school and for a few years afterwards. But had I known I was special and am unique during school I would have been happier.

The Government has announced that all schools in England must deliver RSE classes from September 2019. Barnardo’s sought the views of young people using Barnardo’s services including support for those leaving care, the victims of sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and LGBT young people.

The charity has produced nine recommendations for the Government to inform its guidance for delivering RSE in schools which educators may also find helpful:

  • Teach a wide-ranging RSE curriculum to all young people.
  • When discussing topics in RSE, always consider the potential impact on young people who may have had personal experiences of these issues.
  • Deliver RSE within a holistic Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education programme.
  • Teach topics (such as first menstruation, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexual intercourse) early enough so young people feel prepared for the future.
  • Participants wanted RSE to be taught often enough for young people to fully understand topics.
  • Consult young people about whether they have concerns regarding the topics they will be taught, so their concerns can be addressed.
  • Consult young people about whether they have concerns regarding mixed-gender RSE classes, so their concerns can be addressed.
  • Make sure the skills and characteristics of the educator suit young people’s preferences. Educators should be open-minded, relatable, confident, knowledgeable and ‘sex-positive’.
  • Allow time and space for student discussion, debate and peer learning within RSE.

To read the report, and a summary, visit:


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