Sex and relationship education to be compulsory for Welsh five-year-olds

22 January 2020, 05:54

The move will mirror regulations in England
The move will mirror regulations in England. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Five-year-olds in Wales are set to be taught relationships and sexuality education and religious education, regardless of their parents' wishes.

Announcing the change the Welsh Government said: "RSE lessons will always be appropriate to the age and the developmental stage of the learner".

Some faith groups opposed the plans during an eight-week consultation, saying it could affect trust with parents.

The Welsh Government began a project in October collecting feedback on changing the curriculum to remove the option for parents to stop children studying RE and RSE, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said in a statement.

Some teachers, parents and experts are still divided about how sex and relationships should be taught in schools in Wales. Some believe there should be no sex education before the age of 12 and that teaching children about sexuality may confuse them.

"After careful consideration of the responses, I can confirm that there will not be a right to withdraw from RE and RSE as part of the new curriculum. This change will require careful and sensitive implementation," she said.

The responses were varied and showed "strong and deeply held concerns", Ms Williams said.

"These went further than the question of right to withdraw itself, and extended to the appropriate role of the state in education on these matters and what and how learners will be taught," she added.

Ms Williams said significant feedback would be collected and trials undertaken before the new curriculum begins in September 2022.

England's curriculum will also be updated this September when three new subjects - relationships education in primary school, relationships and sex education at secondary school, and health education for all ages - become compulsory.