Protestors arguing the sexual education curriculum
Members of the PCPW at the protest. Image credit: Tirion Davies

Protest over schools’ new sex education curriculum for three-year-olds

Demonstrators protested through Cardiff today against plans to teach relationship and sex education to children as young as three.

The Welsh Government’s new teaching curriculum includes Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE), which will be phased in over the coming year.  

Today’s demonstration, organised by the group Public Child Protection Wales (PCPW), began outside Cardiff Castle and made its way to the front of the Senedd at Cardiff Bay.  Over 30 members were there, including children; members of other groups supporting similar issues were also in attendance.

PCPW argues that three is too young for children to learn about the subject and suggest parents should be able to opt their children out of the lessons. 

One of the group’s leaders, Lucia Thomas, said the group wasn’t entirely against sex education, but rather that they opposed the Welsh Government’s new curriculum. 

“We believe that sex education should come in the form of biology, not in the form of pleasure,” she said. 

What does the curriculum say?

The Welsh Government’s new RSE Statutory Guidance Code, which was announced last year, says the new curriculum is mandatory for all pupils between the ages of three and 16.

The new curriculum is aimed at teaching children about how sexuality and relationships can impact their lives. 

This system does intentionally consider what is developmentally appropriate to teach at certain age levels. Teachers are told they must consider a child’s age and maturity, ensuring all pupils are getting the right information when is most appropriate for them. 

Parents are currently unable to withdraw their children from this type of education. 

What do teachers think?

Some teachers have argued that the new RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education) curriculum in Wales is important for a child’s development. 

Betsan James, who is finishing her PGCE and works at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf, said that for many, these lessons are the only way they’ll get this kind of information. 

“A lot of the time, if you don’t discuss this in schools, a lot of children don’t get the chance to discuss it. Sometimes kids get embarrassed to talk about these things with their parents, so they go online and Google. 

“Sometimes parents scold their children [for looking things up]. They’ll say ‘they Googled naughty words online’. But they’re just exploring their adolescence, and it’s a completely natural thing for them to do.”

The Welsh Government has said the RSE curriculum should be a part of a whole-school approach to race, religion and modern life.