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Listening to children and young people key to relationships and sexuality education, says expert

24 June 2021

Primary, secondary and special school teachers will join academics and third sector organisations online at Wales’ first Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) professional learning conference today.

The event, organised by Professor EJ Renold, and hosted at Cardiff University on RSE Day, comes as Welsh Government seeks public consultation on drafts of its new RSE guidance.

From September 2022, rights, equity, inclusion and empowerment will become central to statutory RSE curriculum design and provision in Wales, informed by Professor Renold’s research and AGENDA resource, recently awarded the 2021 Hugh Owen Medal from the Learned Society of Wales.

Today’s event will help practitioners find out more about the changes through a series of discussions with Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Professor EJ Renold and Dr Ester McGeeney and Dr Leanne Coll, researchers with extensive experience in training teachers to develop and deliver RSE.

Professor Renold, who specialises in childhood studies and is based at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, said: “A key role of high quality school-based RSE is about creating safe and empowering spaces to explore and respond to what children are already learning, thinking, questioning and feeling.

“Our conference today gathers together and shares what we have learned as researchers and as trainers and educators about what works when it comes to designing and delivering high quality RSE. We will be drawing on the professional learning CRUSH resource throughout the event to share what professional learning looks like when it has been designed specifically to align with the new learner focused curriculum for Wales.”

Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, added: “I'm delighted to be a keynote speaker at this conference, which is an important opportunity to inspire professionals and share emerging RSE practice from across Wales.

“Listening to young people and enabling them to participate in planning RSE is essential - my young Advisory Panel have shared their views and experiences of RSE with me and are joining me to share these at the conference.

“High quality RSE is rights and equity based. It is underpinned by enabling the human rights of children, and has equality and non-discrimination at its heart. With WG statutory guidance on RSE currently out for consultation, this is much-needed professional discussion about what RSE is for, why it’s important, and how we in Wales can best ensure our approaches meet the needs and priorities of children and young people, and are based in their human rights.”

Teacher-led workshops will also explain how to get started and share best practice examples of work already underway to build an RSE curriculum by listening to what matters to children and young people.

Watch the Making Space film here.

Reflecting on her experiences, Alex Milton, the RSE and Health and Well-being lead from Pencoed Comprehensive School, said: “For me it’s all about what the pupils need from the curriculum. If we don’t allow them to shape the curriculum then they’re not going to be ambitious and capable

learners and they’re not going to be ethical and informed citizens. This is what a learner focused approach allows you to do”

“It’s all about creating new things and new ways of capturing pupil ideas and opinions.”

Attendees will also enjoy an interactive programme of activities including youth-led performances, films, bi-lingual RSE resources and networking opportunities to meet a wider range of external RSE providers.

RSE Day takes place on Thursday 24 June 2021 and celebrates great Relationships and Sexuality Education in schools and other settings. This year the theme is 'faces'.

Follow events and activities on social media with #RSEDay #transformingRSE