I would like you to cast your mind back to the year 2000. The UK fuel protests took place, with refineries blockaded, and supply to the country’s network of petrol stations halted. The new Millennium Bridge and London Eye opened, and the UK was hit by one of the worst snow storms in the last 50 years. At the cinema we were watching Billy Eliot and Erin Brockovich. And we were all jolly chuffed that the millennium bug hadn’t brought the whole world to a standstill. The Daily Mail was reporting that sales of the much-hyped WAP phones, which allow users to access the internet on their handsets, had flopped – after all who would want to access the internet on their phone? Phones are for calling people, and sending little messages, oh yes and playing that game were you chase the snake around the screen.
Then in July 2000 the current guidance for schools on sex and relationships education was published. I’m sorry – did I read that right? The current guidance for schools to deliver a massively important curriculum area was published 17 years ago?
Hard to believe but true. The guidance that schools have been using to shape policy and practice was published 4 years before Facebook was launched, 5 years before civil partnerships in England became legal, and 7 years before the iphone brought the computational power of the first moon landings into our pockets. How then can this guidance be relevant and appropriate and enable schools to meet the needs of pupils growing up in 2018. The truth is it can’t be, and thankfully this is finally being addressed. In 2019 secondary schools will be required to teach Sex and relationships education, and primary schools – relationships education, and a consultation has been launched to determine what that actually should comprise.
We believe high quality RSE is integral to safeguarding and as such is an entitlement for all. How can you really claim to safeguard children if they don’t understand ‘healthy relationships’, are not able to correctly name their body parts including their genitalia, understand consent, or realise the risks and consequences of sexting or their digital footprint. Children and young people from all communities and parts of the country are faced with sexualised images in the media and in popular culture. They need the understanding and skills to navigate their way through to ensure they enjoy positive and healthy and respectful relationships of all kinds. High quality and relevant RSE is one means of enabling this.
We encourage as many people as possible to take part in this consultation. To access please visit
Just think if we don’t update this one till 2034 what lives will our young people be living then?
The Daily Mail also reported that leading economists were providing fresh evidence that the economy is running out of steam – so somethings never change.