Concerns around the government’s proposed changes to the RSHE guidance for schools

Chiva is concerned by the government’s proposed changes to the Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education (RSHE) guidance for schools which suggests introducing age-ratings that will delay teaching of vital topics such as STI’s, including HIV.

The draft guidance which was published on 16 May 2024, is now open for public consultation. Of particular concern are the suggestions to ban teaching about puberty before year four and ban teaching about STIs before year nine.

If topics are to be age-rated or censored entirely – as is proposed for teaching about gender identity – children will be left to find answers from unreliable online sources which can include misinformation, and lead to children being confused and ill prepared for navigating growing up.

Teaching children about diversity and rights-related issues is an important means through which an inclusive and equitable society is developed and encouraged.

Limiting or not talking to younger children about relationships, sexual health, reproductive health and puberty, is not something that Chiva would support and goes against our ethos of empowering children and young people through access to health-related information which can build their knowledge and understanding and strengthen their self-efficacy skills from a young age.

There is extensive evidence available globally showing that education on sexual health provided to children at a younger age is linked to delays in the onset of sexual activity.

As the UK charity representing children and young people growing up with HIV and their families, Chiva has long campaigned for and worked to ensure better education around HIV in schools to avoid the spread of misinformation and fight stigma and discrimination for those living with or affected by HIV, and for children living with HIV to be empowered with accurate knowledge, understanding and support around their health condition which enables them to grow up confidently.

Chiva will be responding to the government’s consultation in full.