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Research Around the Curriculum – RSE

RSE is an important part of our curriculum at East Dene Primary school. Here is a summary of some current research on the importance of the RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) curriculum in primary schools in the UK:

  • RSE is now a statutory part of the curriculum in all primary schools in England. It was made compulsory in 2020 under the Children and Social Work Act 2017, indicating recognition from the government that RSE is essential for young children.
  • Age-appropriate RSE teaches children the correct names for body parts, about puberty and reproductive health, and helps them develop skills for building healthy relationships and staying safe. This knowledge can help safeguard children from harm.
  • Primary school is considered a key time to teach RSE before children reach puberty. A review by the Sex Education Forum in 2020 found that about a third of girls start puberty before leaving primary school. Teaching RSE early helps children understand the physical and emotional changes they undergo.
  • RSE helps tackle issues like sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes from a young age. The Ofsted review of sexual abuse in schools in 2021 found that teaching about healthy relationships in RSE can help prevent abusive and coercive behaviour.
  • A study by Lucy Emmerson at the National Children’s Bureau in 2019 found RSE improves school environment and relationships between pupils. It enables children to articulate boundaries and respect others.
  • Age-appropriate RSE can help safeguard children from inappropriate content online by educating them to interpret media messages critically. A study from Middlesex University in 2020 recommended RSE start at age 4 before children access porn online.

In summary, research shows introducing RSE at primary level helps children develop positive values and skills needed for healthy, respectful relationships and keeping safe. It is a vital part of PSHE education.