In England and Wales, relationships and sex education (RSE) is changing. These changes couldn’t come soon enough given the gap between children and young people’s lived experiences and the content of much RSE provision.  There is also a pressing need to ensure teachers and education professionals are confident and equipped to develop a whole school approach to gender equality. The NEU’s research “It’s Just Everywhere” found that sexism and sexual harassment in commonplace in schools.  High quality, relevant and engaging RSE is vital to address this issue.

Listening to and learning from children about RSE

Indeed, schools are key sites to learn from and respond to children’s evolving ideas, questions and needs on a range of RSE issues. However, there are very few resources for educators on how to listen with and learn from children and young people about what matters to them in this area.

NEU supports AGENDA

In 2018, the National Education Union supported the expansion of AGENDA: a young people’s guide to make positive relationships matter.  Originally launched in 2016, AGENDA was co-developed with and for young people aged 11-17.

In its first two years, the AGENDA resource has reached international audiences, from the American launch of an expanded and interactive AGENDA tool-kit in partnership with the New York based SPARK Movement, to Valentine Card activisms in Finland.

What is AGENDA?

AGENDA is an online resource for educators who want to support children and young people to safely and creatively make positive relationships matter. Through starter activities and case studies, AGENDA invites educators to explore inclusive, creative and rights-based approaches to a range of RSE issues including: feelings and emotions; friendships and relationships; body image; consent; gender and sexuality equality and equity; gender-based and sexual violence. 

AGENDA includes:

  • starter activities to help educators support children and young people to think about what matters to them, and what they would like to change.  Examples include STOP/START plates used to create a 'line of action' on what needs to be changed, skirts made from grafittied rulers to demonstrate against unwanted touching and abusive comments, glass jars to collect and share views on how current RSE affects (jars) young people, a 'runway 4 change’ that invites children to stamp out all the violence in the world, making gender equality fly with kites and activist ribbons, and writing songs and performing dramas on issues that matter to young people, from LGBTQ+ rights to mental health.

You can watch one of the AGENDA conferences here

  • suggested ways for children and young people to speak up and/or take action, including a range of cross-curricular examples from dance and movement (expressive arts) to digital story telling (ICT).
  • case study examples of how schools have supported children and young people to learn and raise awareness about building positive relationships
  • further information about how to support children and young people to plan an awareness raising activity.
  • ideas and tips to support educators overcome barriers to using the resource
  • annual awareness raising and remembrance dates dedicated to advancing rights, equalities and social justice around the world.
  • links to organisations and websites for further information
  • a rights-respecting whole-school approach to gender equality and relationships and sex education.
  • ideas on how to create safe, confidential and supportive spaces

I hope Agenda will continue to grow and develop as more children, young people and practitioners engage and share their practices with how the resource can be used and adapted. To find out more, visit the AGENDA website.