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Iceland learns about work in Wales to overhaul relationships and sexuality education

25 November 2019

Emma Renold in Iceland

A Cardiff University academic has shared her work on relationships and sexuality education with policymakers in Iceland.

Professor Emma Renold was invited to a seminar at the University of Iceland to give insights on her research and the AGENDA resource, which has informed the vision for a new holistic, creative, empowering and inclusive relationships and sexuality education curriculum in Wales.

Last year the Icelandic Prime Minister appointed a working group to form a new prevention strategy for Iceland aimed at eradicating sexual and gender-based violence and abuse. The strategy will focus on schools and pre-schools as key institutions for education and prevention.

Professor Renold, based in the School of Social Sciences, said: “Creative pedagogies, which often use the expressive arts, such as drama, visual art and poetry, have the potential to help children and young people feel, think, question, embody and share often sensitive or difficult issues.

“It was great to have the opportunity to share and discuss the work that is being done in Wales to transform relationships and sexuality education. Wales’ new curriculum is an ambitious project that promotes ethical, informed, creative and confident learners on all areas of education, including RSE.”

Halla Gunnarsdóttir, chair of the working group tasked with forming Iceland’s new prevention strategy said: “It was a great honour having Professor Emma Renold visiting Iceland and sharing her expertise. Her combination of academic research and practical experience is very valuable to both policy-makers and professionals.”

As Chair of the Wales Minister for Education’s expert panel, ‘The Future of the SRE curriculum in Wales’, Professor Renold’s report concluded that sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools is too biological and too negative, with insufficient attention given to rights, gender, equity, emotions and relationships. A new curriculum called Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) will be introduced in 2022.

Professor Renold has worked with young people in Wales to produce AGENDA: supporting children and young people in making positive relationships matter, originally funded by Cardiff University, NSPCC Cymru, Women’s Aid and Welsh Government. The resource helps teachers use creative activities to support children in both primary and secondary schools explore a variety of topics including feelings and emotions; friendships and relationships; body image; consent; gender and sexuality equality and rights.

In its first two years this toolkit reached international audiences, from the American launch of an interactive AGENDA toolkit in partnership with the New York-based SPARK Movement, to Valentine Card activisms in Finland. It is currently being rolled out to teachers in England.

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