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Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education

Relationships, sexual health and parenthood education is an integral part of the health and wellbeing area of the schools curriculum in Scotland.  Children and young people need to gain knowledge appropriate to their age and stage of education and this aspect of the curriculum is intended to enable them to build positive relationships as they grow older. Schools should present facts in an objective, balanced and sensitive manner within a framework of sound values and an awareness of the law on sexual behaviour. The aim is to help young people make informed, responsible and healthy choices about their lives.

Learning about relationships, sexual health, and parenthood begins early on in primary school right up to S4-S6. Schools will equip young people with information on a wide range of issues, depending on their age and stage. This could include puberty, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), contraception, how to access sexual health services to the tasks involved in looking after a baby. They will be encouraged to discuss these subjects with their peers and parents, to help them gain knowledge, and the skills to become confident in making healthy lifestyle decisions for themselves.

Schools should work closely with parents and carers in the delivery of sexual health and relationships education, by discussing proposed lessons and resources with them in advance.  If parents or carers feel that the content is not appropriate they can withdraw a child from all or part of a planned programme of lessons and arrangements should be made for the child to have alternative positive educational provision.

Guidance on the Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education in Scottish Schools

Relationships, sexual health and parenthood education forms a key part of Health and Wellbeing within Curriculum for Excellence.

Guidance was issued to schools on 22 March 2001 on Section 56 of the Standards in Scottish Schools etc, Act 2000: Conduct of Sex Education in Scottish Schools, known as Circular 2/2001. Since this Circular was written, Curriculum for Excellence has been introduced in Scottish schools and the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 4 February 2014 and received Royal Assent on 12 March 2014.

This guidance is in the process of being updated to reflect these developments. The draft guidance can be found here .

This guidance is for teachers and adults working with children and young people in an educational setting. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill has had two public consultations. As with previous exercises for reviewing guidance for teachers, we engaged with key education stakeholders rather than holding a formal Scottish Government consultation.

The engagement ended on Friday 8 November 2013. The 60 responses received are being considered along with other available evidence to help us reach a final version of this guidance for local authorities and schools. Revised guidance is expected to be in place by June 2014.

As this is not a consultation, responses were not originally published on our website.  However, the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and received a number of requests made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this engagement exercise. We therefore decided to publish responses and contacted all respondents to check how they wished their response to be handled. Responses can be accessed at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/05/7840 . 8 responses are not included as permission was not received to make them public.

Email:      relationshipseducation@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Useful information

There is a helpful guide for parents and carers on sex education in Scottish Schools.

Learning Together - A review of sexual health and relationship resources to support parents and carers (please note: this is a very large document). Produced by Healthier Scotland and NHS Health Scotland.

Further information for parents and teachers on Health and Wellbeing in the Curriculum is available on Education Scotland's website.