The research is in – parents confident discussing relationships and sex, but feel unsupported by schools

4 mins read
Jenny Welsh

As schools across the UK transition to the new RSE curriculum, ClickView reveals the results of new YouGov research* examining parents’ attitudes around relationships and sex. Far from showing any signals of embarrassment or awkwardness among parents, the survey has highlighted a positive and proactive approach.

The research, commissioned by ClickView, found that 75% of British parents with children aged 5 to 18 are confident talking to their children about the topic of sex and relationships. 85% are confident to support their children with the facts around the realities of sexual relationships. Just 2 in 10, or 20% of parents don’t feel confident talking to their child about relationships and sex. The age of parents did impact confidence, which is higher in older parents. 73% of parents aged 25-34 feel confident compared to 92% of parents aged 45-54.

However, over a third of parents surveyed (42%) do not feel supported by schools to talk about relationships and sex education at home. Less than half of respondents said they feel supported by schools (43%). 30% of parents said that ‘signposting to resources and services that they can use’ and ‘general support from their child/children’s school’ would be helpful to them when initiating conversations at home.

More school support would help boost parent confidence

Expert Relationships and Sex Consultant, Rebecca Jennings acknowledges the results highlight a clear gap where parents want to begin these conversations with their children but don’t feel fully equipped. She suggests this is where schools can play an important role.

Expert Relationships and Sex Consultant, Rebecca Jennings
“Schools need to acknowledge that parents are the primary caregivers for their children and ultimately there should be a partnership between home and school as there would be with every other subject in the curriculum,” says Rebecca. “When parents feel empowered, they are then able to navigate sensitive conversations from a very early stage with their children.” Given a quarter of parents with children in primary school are not confident to do so, “education for parents around topics they may not understand will certainly overcome the barriers to those much-needed discussions at home,” she explains.

The role of quality relationships and sex education resources

Many schools deliver outstanding provision to support the personal development and pastoral needs of their students. With RSE previously absent from the curriculum – as well as competing demands on educators – some schools may have struggled to give this important topic the airtime they would like to. Schools are currently transitioning to a new RSE curriculum, compulsory in schools by the start of the summer term 2021.

ClickView meets the new RSE curriculum

We’ve put together a guide to help you through the transition to the new PSHE Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum. For many, these resources will build upon the wonderful work you already do, while for others it’s the beginning of a new journey.

ClickView’s YouGov survey results coincide with the release of a bigger independent report by YouGov into global media consumption. This report found COVID-19 has contributed to accelerating the growth of video streaming – both in terms of audience size and time spent. Lockdown measures have seen young people spending more time than ever online to stay connected. With this increased usage comes increased risk, as relationships rely more than ever on digital platforms. The findings support the evolving role that high-quality video can play in an educational setting.

ClickView’s Respectful and Intimate Relationships series

ClickView’s two series of Respectful and Intimate Relationships explore challenging and important issues surrounding respectful relationships, including sexual harassment, domestic violence, misogyny in pornography, pornography versus reality, and the sharing of intimate images. With additional resources for schools, ClickView hopes to be able to help educators to in turn further support parents. To ensure equity of access, both series are completely free for all educators and parents.

Managing Director at ClickView UK, Michael Wilkinson explains the rationale behind the series.

“ClickView is committed to providing resources educators need to deliver age-appropriate and evidence-based respectful relationships education,” he says. “As schools’ transition to the new RSE curriculum, the series is hugely timely and relevant. We know the huge amount of pressure schools and teachers are under. They need support to help parents on this important topic. With the help of subject experts, we have developed resources that we hope can enable educators to confidently raise awareness of problematic behaviours among young people and create healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships.”

Respectful Intimate Relationships ClickView Original Series

More ways schools can support parents

Rebecca Jennings shares more expert advice for schools looking for ways to support parents:

  • Use everyday situations to discuss RSE topics, rather than having a one-off conversation.
  • Host an online forum on the topic of ‘How to talk to your child about growing up’ to help instill confidence in parents.
  • Share tips in the school newsletter.
  • Organise a point of contact at school before delivery of RSE to help parents continue the conversations at home.

*All figures are from YouGov Plc. Base: All GB Parents of children aged 5 to 18, 774. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 10th February 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)

Free resources for the new PSHE Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum

ClickView series Respectful Relationships (Series 1) and Respectful Intimate Relationships (Series 2) explore a wide range of topical content, including consent, pornography versus reality, sharing intimate images online and pornography addiction.

The videos come with teacher guides created with Relationships and Sex Consultant in schools, Rebecca Jennings. Both series and resources are available free to support schools with the transition to the new PSHE Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum.

Explore the free resources