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My hopes for the future of Relationships and Sex Education

Brook believes Relationships and Sex Education should be informed by young people’s needs and experiences. In this blog, we hear from Ellie, a Changemaker at SafeLives, about what she thinks needs to be done to improve RSE in schools.

In 2014 I had my very first Relationships and Sex Educations (RSE) lesson. I was 11 at the time and I remember the lesson being about how children are made and what happens when a woman gives birth. I remember all the boys being really immature and saying really horrible and vulgar things, especially when the woman was giving birth. I remember feeling really uncomfortable at the time as I was hearing things like “Oh my god that’s disgusting” and “Ew that’s gross”.  Hearing these things made me feel really confused as I couldn’t see what the issue was.

Being in an environment like this impacted really negatively on my RSE experience.  

One of the really positive parts of my RSE experience was the two teachers who taught us RSE. One was a man and one was a woman so I think that helped with making people feel more comfortable during the lessons. It was also really interesting being educated on certain topics from two very different perspectives. For example, if a student asked a question the male teacher might have answered it differently to the female teacher. I remember some of the girls felt a lot more comfortable having a female teacher there, especially when the topics were more hard-hitting.  

When I went to secondary school, my RSE was very poor. I wasn’t educated about topics like domestic abuse or sex ed. The only piece of sexual education I got taught was how to put a condom on a banana. Being informed and educated about these topics is vital and so many people, especially young people, become a statistic because the school system has failed them.  

The internet has taught me so much more about sex than school ever did. 

Not only did the RSE curriculum let me down, it let down every single one of my peers. So many of my friends have been in toxic relationships at some point in their lives or been sexually harassed and didn’t even know they had been until I pointed it out to them. They should have been able to identify it themselves but, because our school decided to stick their head in the sand, they were left to deal with the trauma. 

One of my biggest hopes for the RSE curriculum is that it becomes mandatory that they bring professionals into teaching this information, as I don’t think it shouldn’t be left down to teachers. I think one thing that both schools and the government forget is that teachers might have past trauma which may lead to them not being able to teach these topics to a high standard and feel uncomfortable when teaching. I also don’t think it should all be left to teachers as they are already so busy.  

I also hope that in the future RSE becomes co-created with young people and has young people’s authentic voice embedded into it.  

This curriculum needs to keep being updated so it can teach young people the most relevant information. For example, it needs to be teaching young people about things like incel culture and how social media is helping to promote it. It needs to be teaching young people that their voice matters. I hope that the RSE curriculum keeps growing and keeps getting better. 

sign our pledge for rse

This year, the Government is reviewing and revising the Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) guidance. This review is happening in response to vocal opposition to inclusive RSE.

If you support high-quality, inclusive RSHE, sign our pledge.

Sign the pledge

Safelives

We are SafeLives, the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good. We work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse for each individual and family to get the right help at the right time. We listen to young people, our Changemakers, putting their voices at the heart of our thinking so that we can challenge harmful behaviours in young people’s early relationships, before they become an entrenched part of their lives.

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