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  1. ITV Report

Focus on relationships and sexuality in changes to sex education in Welsh schools

Credit: PA

Sex education in schools across Wales is set to change with more focus on relationships and sexuality.

Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) will be introduced in 2022 for children aged five to 16 and place emphasis on forming and maintaining healthy and happy relationships. It will also include teaching on issues such as consent and domestic abuse.

Rather than only focusing on heterosexual relationships, the new course will aim to broaden understanding of sexuality and LGBT issues.

However parents will still have the right to remove their children from lessons and religious schools can teach the lessons in ways consistent with their beliefs.

Children's Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland welcomed the changes.

I am particularly pleased with how the Government will ensure Relationships and Sexuality Education moves beyond the biology of relationships and ensures children of all ages will be supported to have positive, healthy relationships, to learn about equality and to celebrate diversity. Children and young people all over Wales have told me that they need this change. It's an ambitious commitment, backed by solid financial resource, which will go a long way in supporting the rights of children in Wales to grow up happy, healthy and safe.

– Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner for Wales

Welsh Women's Aid was one of the organisations that advised the Welsh Government on changes to the curriculum. They described the changes as vital.

We are delighted the new curriculum in Wales will make learning about healthy relationships statutory for all schools, including important lessons on consent, relationship abuse, sexual equality and respecting diversity and tolerance.

This is a positive step towards eradicating violence and abuse in our schools and communities. We know that almost 20% of younger students aged 11-14 in Wales have experienced verbal abuse in relationships at least once or more, which rises to almost 40% of students aged 15-16. We also know that up to 1 in 5 girls at secondary schools in Wales report they've experienced unwanted touching, groping or kissing by a boy whilst in school at least once.

– Eleri Butler, Welsh Women's Aid