Ready for relationships education? Primary school children’s responses to a Healthy Relationships programme in England

Case Studies & Research
p. 1-17
Periodical title
Sex Education

Children’s experience of harm and abuse has a profound impact on their health and well-being. In response, school-based prevention programmes have been developed and delivered by external organisations with the aim of improving children’s awareness and understanding of forms of harm and abuse which may affect them, encouraging them to seek help if needed. In September 2020, Relationships Education became statutory within the primary school curriculum in England and this ratification is likely to increase demand for externally delivered classroom-based programmes, which address the broad range of topics to be covered within this field. However, evidence is required to understand the impact and acceptability of such programmes. This paper presents qualitative findings from a larger mixed-methods study. Focus group discussions with 29 children explored their responses to one Healthy Relationships programme delivered to primary school children aged 10 and 11 in England. Analysis focuses specifically on responses to the topics of sexual abuse prevention and help-seeking. Children’s widespread support for the programme indicates that topics are relevant and the opportunity to explore these issues is valued. However, for effective programme implementation, schools and parents need to be prepared, and prevention messages should continue to be embedded throughout children’s school lives.

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