Relationships and sexuality education
Relationships and sexuality education in schools
In this section
The school's role
Schools have an important part to play in helping to develop well informed and confident young people.
The teacher can lead discussions that children may not be able to have with their parents and provide the environment for students to consider important information, sometimes dispelling myths on the way.
School programs have been found to increase parent–child communication about relationships and sexuality.
Most parents support sexual health education in schools, as long as they are informed about what will be covered.
They want a partnership approach to ensure their kids get accurate, reliable sexual health education and would like teachers to have specialist training in this area.27
Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is part of the WA Health Curriculum for Kindergarten to Year 10.
It’s not just about sex, it’s about growing up, protective behaviours, respectful relationships, assertive communication, health literacy and much more.
For those kids who don’t get any information at home, school is the only place they will receive quality information about their bodies and sexual health, so it’s extremely important that there are mandated programs offered in schools so that our kids are safe and informed.
Parent of boys 5, 8 and 10
Comprehensive RSE programs have been found to:
- increase young people’s confidence and ability to make informed decisions
- delay first experience of sexual intercourse and frequency of sexual intercourse
- increase the use of contraception
- reduce risk taking (lowering the chance of STIs and unplanned pregnancies)
- provide additional opportunities for young people to learn about and discuss relationships and sexual health issues outside their homes.28
What can you do to help
- Ask what your child’s school is doing in RSE and how you can support them.
- Be an advocate for RSE. Talk to your child’s school about having parent workshops.
- Talk to your child about the lessons they do in RSE.
- Answer their questions and relate topics back to your own family values and beliefs.
Growing and Developing Healthy Relationships (GDHR)
The WA Department of Health Growing and Developing Healthy Relationships (GDHR) website provides support for schools including:
- content fully linked to the WA Curriculum
- lesson plans for Kindergarten to Year 10
- supporting activity sheets and illustrations
- background teacher notes
- guidelines on how, what and when to teach topics
- how to answer tricky questions
- professional development opportunities (including free teacher training with paid teacher relief)
- links to books, websites, reports, research and services.
Peter: Parents need to know that certain things are going to be broached as their children go through school. Ready or not, these things will come up in conversation.
Marie: Yes. Letting you know what the children will be taught at certain levels so that you are aware of what’s going to be going on, so that you can either complement that, or…
Peter: What questions you’re going to get asked.
Marie: Yeah, that’s right. So that you can get some information for yourself to complement what’s going on, so that you’re ahead of the game a bit. Or, you know, if you have real issues with something that’s going to be taught, you have an opportunity to say, “Well, I’m really not comfortable with my child being taught this.” Because, I mean, we know our children the best, you want to have that option of saying whether it’s religious beliefs or whatever, that you can say, that doesn’t go with my family …”
Parent of boy 8 and Parent of girl 10