1. ITV Report

'Major overhaul' of sex education needed in Wales

Credit: PA

Sex and relationship education (SRE) in Wales is in need of a 'major overhaul' according to a new report.

The Sex and Relationship Education Expert Panel report says that SRE in Wales is too focused on biology; with not enough attention given to rights, gender equality, emotions and relationships.

The report also concludes that there is a lack of focus on minority gender and sexual identities, and a lack of awareness and education on violence against women - domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Women's Aid has welcomed the finding of the panel pointing to the role SRE programmes play in helping young people make sense of information they're "already exposed to and often struggle to negotiate for themselves."

As this report notes, international research shows that the most effective SRE programmes are those that have a rights and gender-equity based approach. The report continues to explain that since SRE is part of the basic curriculum, the design and implementation of schools' SRE programmes are determined by the school in line with their SRE policy. This has led to wide variation in the quantity and quality of SRE that children and young people receive, which is deeply worrying."

– Eleri Butler, CEO Welsh Women's Aid

Among the recommendations is a name change to sexuality and relationship education. They say this would allow for a more expansive definition so teachers can develop a SRE programme that connects with the full curriculum.

It's argued that holistic SRE programme can help to reduce homophobic and transphobic bullying, allow young people to make informed decisions about sexual intimacy, challenge gender stereotypes and increase understanding of consensual sex.

Creating an education system which helps all our young people become adults who are healthy, confident individuals is a key part of our National Mission. We can only do this by assisting teachers to gain the knowledge, confidence and skills they need to develop the physical, emotional and mental health of their pupils.

I would like to thank Professor Renold and the members of the expert panel for their hard work researching and producing this report. The recommendations will assist the Pioneer Schools in exploring curriculum structures and wider whole school approaches around Sex and Relationships Education.

I will now consider the report and will publish my response early in the New Year.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education