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Relationships and sexuality education

Relationship and sexuality education is crucial for all children and young people for several reasons. Provided with accurate information, children and young people are empowered to make informed, healthy, respectful and responsible choices about their sexual health, relationships and wellbeing.

The education sessions are delivered by school nursing services and they provide information on the following areas:

  • healthy relationships
  • what to expect during puberty including the physical and emotional changes
  • contraception to prevent unintended sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancies
  • the meaning of consent
  • respecting diversity
  • communicating and encouraging young people to reach out for help
  • gender equality

The relationship and sexuality education code 2021 supports schools to design an individually tailored programme to their pupils which is dependent on need. All children and young people will have the opportunity to develop their understanding of relationships and sexuality, taking a rights-based approach in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

School nursing services will work with individual schools and form part of the wider programme being delivered in the school. The information delivered will be tailored to individual needs and will be delivered using different methods, for example classroom, groups, jointly with families or digital resources.

The content delivered is age appropriate in accordance with the code and is tailored to the age of the child and audience. As children and young people progress through education and mature, the level of detail and information will increase according to the code. The information fosters an environment that encourages an openness, is non-judgemental and is inclusive. Language used is easily understood and relatable to the age group.

School nursing services will deliver information to all children and young people through the universal programme, as set out in the operating model:

  • years 5 and 6: growing up, including puberty and hygiene
  • year 9: relationships, including sexually transmitted infections
  • year 9: relationships, including contraception

During secondary school age, the importance of communication, empathy, and mutual respect in building healthy relationships is provided through school settings. Information is also shared about local services available to young people and how they can access these services should they need to.

In addition to this information, young people can also access the free confidential advice service about sexual health and relationships, provided by school nursing services. The drop-in sessions are an opportunity to discuss a particular topic in more detail with a trained member of staff or to seek more information.