Schools should better support pupils in learning how to develop safe, respectful personal relationships

Schools do not allocate enough time or importance to providing learning experiences and support for pupils to develop safe, respectful personal relationships. A report published today by Estyn found that the content and delivery of this area of personal and social education varies too widely in schools across Wales. In particular, schools do not prepare pupils well enough to live in a diverse society, for example by teaching them about forms of violence against women such as female genital mutilation and honour-based violence.

Estyn’s report, A review of healthy relationships education, recommends that all schools should use a Welsh Government good practice guide on healthy relationships that provides advice on how to deliver education that promotes gender equality and challenges violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector, says,

“Schools play a vital role in teaching young people how they can enjoy the best possible health and be free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation. By ensuring essential messages about healthy relationships are embedded in the curriculum and reinforced regularly, schools will set the groundwork for young people to make and maintain friendships, challenge stereotypes and prejudice, and cope with negative influences."

One school identified by inspectors that delivers healthy relationships education well is Pen-Y-Dre High School, who promote healthy relationships through a wide range of activities including assemblies, themed days, parent workshops and lessons. In another example of best practice, St Woolos Primary School work with Women’s Aid, who run workshops with key stage 2 pupils that promote gender equality and safe, respectful relationships. A common feature of schools that demonstrate best practice is that they work in partnership with specialist agencies as part of regular opportunities to explore healthy relationships across the curriculum.

The report also recommends that local authorities and regional consortia ensure that all staff who work in schools complete the healthy relationships training set out in the Welsh Government’s National Training Framework.

Notes to Editors:

About the report

The findings and recommendations in this report draw on:
• evidence from inspection outcomes
• evidence from a survey questionnaire
• visits to schools
• interviews with representatives of specialist agencies
• Schools visited as part of the survey were:
• Brackla Primary School, Bridgend
• Cathays High School, Cardiff
• Connah’s Quay High School, Flintshire
• Dinas Powys Community Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan
• Maindee Community Primary School, Newport
• Pen Y Cwm Special School, Blaenau Gwent
• St Helen’s Roman Catholic Primary School, Caerphilly
• St Joseph’s Catholic & Anglican High School, Wrexham
• St Woolos Primary School, Newport
• Ysgol Golwg Y Cwm, Powys
• Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr, Cardiff
• Ysgol Llanddulas, Conwy
• Ysgol Pen-Y-Dre, Merthyr Tydful
• Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn, Gwynedd

Sealand Community. Primary. School, Flintshire provided evidence through telephone contact.

Specialist agencies that contributed to the report were:
• Barnardo’s Better Futures Project, Cardiff
• BAWSO, Cardiff
• Hafan Cymru Spectrum Project, Cardiff
• Governors Wales
• Gwent VAWDA
• Police Wales School Liaison Programme
• Public Health Wales
• Welsh Healthy Schools Network
• National Adviser for Violence against Women and other forms of Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.

The Welsh Government and Welsh Women’s Aid produced a good practice guide in 2015 that provides advice for schools on how to develop, embed and successfully deliver a whole-education approach to promoting gender equality and to challenge violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence:

In 2016, the Welsh Government published statutory guidance outlining a National Training Framework that requires all staff who work in schools to complete training to ensure they provide an effective response to those experiencing violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence:

Publication date

Friday, 23 June, 2017