A Qualitative Exploration of Children and Young People’s Experiences of the Secondary Relationships and Sex Education Curriculum

Cave, Sophie Nicole (2023) A Qualitative Exploration of Children and Young People’s Experiences of the Secondary Relationships and Sex Education Curriculum. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF (Re-submission) (Thesis - as examined) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (6MB) | Preview


Over the past decade numerous concerns have been raised about the effectiveness, appropriateness and standard of secondary school-based Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in England (Greening, 2017; Ofsted, 2013). In March 2017, then Education Secretary, Justine Greening, announced statutory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for all secondary school pupils (Greening, 2017). The curriculum became constitutional on 1st of September 2020 (DfE, 2019).

In view of this curriculum change, it is important to acknowledge previous literature that has recognised the importance of listening and advocating for the voice of children and young people (CYP) to promote positive sexual knowledge (Aggleton et al., 2000; Strange et al., 2006). At the time of writing this thesis, the researcher was unaware of any qualitative studies in England which had explored CYP’s experiences of the RSE curriculum post reforms. As such, the researcher aimed to explore CYP’s (aged 11-16) experiences of school based RSE, with an additional focus on how CYP experience the teaching of consent, as part of the RSE curriculum.

A Reflexive Thematic Analysis (RTA) (Braun & Clarke, 2006; 2021) was conducted on transcripts of three individual interviews and three small focus groups. The researcher identified five themes: A conflict of interest between espoused practice and policy and a curriculum important to CYP; Current teaching practices do not align with CYP’s preferred methods; A perceived lack of trust, confidentiality and lack of positive student-teacher relationships; The classroom environment does not enable feelings of safety and comfort; and finally, Do CYP really understand consent?

Overall, findings suggested that CYP perceived current RSE pedagogy as unsatisfactory. The research has relevance for professionals working with CYP, including Educators, Health Care Professionals, Educational Psychologists (EPs) and Government Officials. The thesis concludes by discussing implications around individual and systemic support, alongside limitations and potential areas for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Hounslow, Russell
Keywords: education, psychology, sex education, relationship education, secondary school, pupil, young people, qualitative research
Subjects: H Social sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary education. High schools
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 74791
Depositing User: Cave, Sophie
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 04:40
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/74791

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View