DoH Framework for Sexual Health Improvement

Response to Dept.of Health's 'Framework for Sexual Health Improvement'

15 March 2013

The Sex Education Forum, based at leading children's charity The National Children's Bureau, welcomes the publication of the government's strategy for improving sexual health and its focus on preventative measures, such as good quality sex and relationships education (SRE). However, more needs to be done to ensure all schools step up to the mark, in providing the information, support and advice that children want and need.

Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum said:

"We are delighted that the Framework acknowledges the benefits that good quality sex and relationships education has for the sexual health of young people. We know this from research, which has shown a clear correlation between good education and a reduction in teenage  pregnancies."

"While all primary and secondary schools are expected to comply with the government guidance on SRE the reality is that some schools offer precious little teaching on topics such as puberty, sexual consent and relationships.  We recommend that SRE (as part of PSHE education) is made statutory. This would give Ofsted the means to pick up schools with inadequate performance on SRE and help them improve."

"We fully support the government's ambition to create an honest and open culture around sexual health. Having SRE lessons in every year of school helps children build up a safe and shared language to talk about their bodies, relationships and sexual health and this is key to enabling young people to discuss their concerns and make choices. It is also important that SRE doesn't stop abruptly at 16. Further education and sixth form colleges are ideally placed to continue young people's education on sexual health and relationships since the median age to first have sex with someone is 17."

"Thankfully, some local authorities have already risen to the challenge, taking an integrated, area-wide approach and ensuring teachers have the training and support they require to provide good quality SRE. However, work is needed to ensure best practice in better performing areas is shared with those areas lagging behind. We look forward to working with local authorities and other health stakeholders to achieve this."

The Sex Education Forum has produced a range of guidance for teachers, local authorities and parents available at:

Examples of good practice in local authorities including Croydon, Barnsley and Shropshire are available at www.


For more information, please contact the National Children's Bureau's media office for on 0207 843 6047 or email For urgent enquiries out of office hours call 07721 097 033.


Notes to editors

About the Sex Education Forum

Members of the Sex Education Forum include over 60 national organisations and hundreds of SRE practitioners, with representatives from health, education, faith, disability and children's organisations who believe that ALL children and young people have the right to good SRE.

The Sex Education Forum is a member of the Dept. of Health's Sexual Health Forum.


About the National Children's Bureau

The National Children's Bureau is a leading charity that for 50 years has been improving the lives of children and young people, especially the most vulnerable. Working with children and for children, we strive to reduce the impact of inequalities by influencing government policy using our extensive research and expertise, being a strong voice for young people and practitioners, and providing creative solutions on issues including health, education and care. Every year we reach more than 100,000 children and young people through our membership scheme, links with voluntary, statutory and private organisations, and the specialist membership programmes that we host. For more information visit