Better sex education needed now!

Better sex education needed now!

In response to the Daily Telegraph’s ‘campaign for better sex education’ and subsequent government comment. 09 September 2013.  

Last week 69 experts came together to sign a letter* calling on the government to update their sex and relationships education guidance for schools. The letter came as part of the Telegraph’s ‘campaign for better sex education’ which has been successful in prompting further debate on the subject; including comment from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education**. 

Lucy Emmerson, Coordinator of the Sex Education Forum said.  

“The support for our letter shows the consensus in support of urgent updating and upgrading of sex and relationships education (SRE). Our objective is not just to ensure that teachers can confidently address issues relating to internet pornography in SRE, but that we reach a new understanding that all schools are required to teach SRE to the highest standards. This, by definition, means that the subject is adequately resourced with trained teachers and is taught developmentally: year by year throughout schooling. 

We look forward to both discussing the details of the changes to SRE that the Prime Minister refers to and working with the Department for Education and others to improve standards in SRE. We encourage the Deputy Prime Minister and other MPs to continue dialogue with the Secretary of State for Education on the need for stronger leadership from government to drive up standards on SRE.

Since there has been no suggestion from the Secretary of State that sex education should be reduced, we very much hope that the final version of the National Curriculum will have clear sex education content within science, including sexual health – which is currently poised for deletion.

Government, schools and families all have a role to play. We have produced a check-list for schools to help them work towards good quality SRE and a ‘curriculum design’ tool to guide content at primary and secondary level. ‘Let’s work together’ is our practical guide for schools to involve parents and carers in SRE.”  


**Comments from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education

The Deputy Prime Minister’s comments (LBC radio phone in on 05 September 2013) which clearly state Liberal Democrat support for updated, more extensive improvements to sex and relationship guidance for all schools. Nick Clegg said: “my own view is this is an area where actually we do need to both update the guidance… and really raise the expectation that all schools do this properly in the classroom”.

Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, defended the existing guidance (2000), suggesting new guidance responding to current circumstances would become out-of date very quickly due to new technology or changing ‘social mores’. The Prime Minister agreed with Michael Gove (07 September 2013) that there is no need for ‘wholesale reform’ of the curriculum, but did acknowledge that school SRE must address internet porn; he said “We need to make sure we are up to date on the problems of the internet…. We should be alert to those points and make those changes”. Cameron also focused on the necessity of parents being involved.


*Letter in the Telegraph calling for updated SRE guidance

The letter, coordinated by the Sex Education Forum and signed by their Chair, Jane Lees, was supported by four teaching unions, child protection experts, family and faith organizations and was successfully published as the leading letter in the Daily Telegraph on 4th September 2013.