Parents back demand for post-pandemic Relationships Education in schools


More than four in five parents back a new focus on Relationships Education as schools make plans for a post-pandemic return, figures released by Parentkind and relationships charity fastn show.

June 25 is #RSEDay, when parents, schools and the education sector come together to support best practice in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

A poll from researchers Survation of 1,025 parents with children in primary and secondary schools in England asked how important it is for primary and secondary schools to help children understand and prepare for relationships:

  • 89% said it was very or quite important in relation to friends
  • 84% said it was very or quite important in relation to family

When asked to what extent parents’ priorities for their child had changed in the wake of Covid-19:

  • 59% cited ‘relationships with family’ as having increased
  • 36% ‘relationships with friends’ as having increased
  • 30% ‘relationships with school staff’ as having increased

Relationships Education in all primary schools in England and Relationships and Sex Education in all secondary schools becomes a compulsory part of the curriculum from September 2020. The Department for Education recently wrote to all schools to inform them that the new curriculum is to be implemented ‘no later than the start of the summer term 2021.’

Our joint survey highlights parents’ desire to see Relationships Education used to support inclusion and diversity:

  • 85% said that it was important that Relationships Education should ‘improve relationships and acceptance of others in society’
  • 83% said that it was important that Relationships Education should be adapted to the ‘realities of each child and their community’.

Parentkind CEO John Jolly said: "It's clear from the survey results that parents recognise the importance of schools teaching Relationships Education to reflect the values and social interactions their child learns at home. The world has unmistakeably changed for all of us in recent months, and the school that children return to won't be exactly the same as the one they left, even down to the way they travel and interact with their teachers, friends and peers. Parents see the value in Relationships Education orienting their child in a quickly-changing world, keeping them safe and informed."

Fastn Chief Executive Catherine Hine said: "At a time when society is searching for ways to come together, it is heartening that more than four in five parents recognise the role meaningful Relationships Education can play for all children."

The survey also found that one-in-three parents (33%) were aware that the new curriculum was being introduced and three-in-five had yet to be consulted.

Parentkind CEO John Jolly said: "With only a third of parents in the loop about the impending new curriculum, there's a clear need for schools to consult their parent community as they develop their new Relationships Education policy. This is a valuable opportunity for parents and schools to work together. With the current nationwide home-learning effort during school closures, parents and teachers have developed an increased appreciation for the importance of this partnership. There has never been a better time to ensure home-school communications are used effectively to deliver a subject parents tell us has only increased in importance since schools closed their doors to most pupils."

FASTN chief executive Catherine Hine said: "There is a clear message here – lockdown has increased parents’ desire to get relationships in families and with friends right, and to work in partnership with teachers to deliver it as soon as possible. Catch-up summer schools can prevent children being left behind on maths and science, but children learn from us about relationships all the time. It is one of the few aspects of our children’s education that cannot be put on hold. There is a real opportunity now for schools and parents to work together to deliver the best in Relationships Education so that children can get the benefit from experiencing healthy dependable relationships that will enable them to thrive into adulthood."

The survey results support the 12 Principles of Excellence in Relationships Education published by Parentkind, fastn, relationships charity Relate and others to support schools in delivering quality whole-school programmes.

Aidan Jones, CEO of leading relationships charity Relate, said: "Relationships are at the heart of so many areas of life; the role they’ve played in getting individuals and society through lockdown has illustrated this in a once-in-a-generation way. Understanding ourselves and how we relate to others from an early age is vital. That’s why Relate is proud to shine a spotlight on the importance of Relationships Education in schools this RSE Day."

See Survation's summary charts for more details. 

Follow Parentkind, fastn and Relate to keep up to speed. 

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