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Ceredigion adopts controversial Relationships and Sexuality Education county policy

SENIOR Ceredigion councillors have adopted a county policy on the controversial Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Code.

The mandatory Welsh Government RSE Code supports schools to design their own lessons to teach children about relationships, rights and equity, sex gender and sexuality, bodies and body image, sexual health and well-being, violence, safety and support.

It sets out learning at three age-appropriate phases, linked broadly to age: from age three, from age seven, and from age 11.

However, campaigners against the scheme have argued it gives prominence to LGBTQ+ themes and ignores traditional issues and family life.

The Ceredigion Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Policy has been written in line with Welsh Government statutory guidance, the RSE Code and legislative summary for schools and educational provisions in Ceredigion.

A report for members stated: “RSE became a statutory element of the Curriculum for Wales for all primary schools and those secondary schools that have committed to the roll out of the new curriculum from September 2022. This will be a phased approach for secondary schools, beginning with Year 7.

“For some, RSE is a sensitive subject. A group named Public Child Protection Wales has challenged Welsh Government on the provision for RSE and a judicial review was held on November 15, 2022. On December 22, 2022, the court supported the Welsh Government on all counts.”

The report added: “RSE aims to empower learners in line with their needs, experiences and wider development. Through discussion and by responding to learners’ questions and needs, it can provide safe and empowering environments that enable learners to reflect on and express their views and feelings on a range of issues, whilst also ensuring that the content is developmentally appropriate.

“Teaching and learning in RSE should be supported by a whole-school approach to RSE and this is critical in supporting learners’ well-being. This means effectively linking all aspects of school, including the curriculum, policy, staff, school environment and community to support learners in their relationships and sexuality education. Schools and settings should discuss RSE in the context of children’s rights as protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

“A rights-based approach supported by equity should be embedded in the learning. In line with the mandatory requirements of the RSE Code, RSE will be realised in a way that is inclusive in accordance with the principles of equality.

“This helps ensure that all learners can see themselves, their families, their communities and each other reflected across the curriculum and can learn to value difference and diversity as a source of strength.”

Members supported a recommendation – following a March meeting of the Learning Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee – to adopt the contents of the Ceredigion RSE policy and that any comments proposed by the Welsh Government were included as amendments to the RSE.