Government rejects compulsory sex education in schools

Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) condemns government decision on Sex and Relationships Education.

Nicky Morgan MP says no to compulsory sex education in schools

Nicky Morgan MP says no to compulsory sex education in schools

The Government has rejected calls for mandatory sex education in schools to be made compulsory, from the government’s chief medical officer, three cross-party committees of MPs and the children’s commissioner.

The announcement, not to make to make personal, social and health education (PSHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) statutory, was made yesterday, two months later than expected, by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who had originally promised to report by the end of last year,

Instead, she announced the government will work with a group of leading head teachers and practitioners to improve PSHE, but this will not include statutory status, and is hardly likely to have the breadth or scope to tackle Ofsted’s finding that 40 per cent of PSHE teaching is not of sufficient quality.

Shaun Griffin

Shaun Griffin

Shaun Griffin, Executive Director External Affairs, Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The government missed its own deadline in reply to the Education Select Committee on PSHE, and now reveals itself to have completely  ignored that report, and the recommendation of no less than four chairs of parliamentary committees. Quite incredible.

“Confusingly, in its letter the government expresses concern around the variable quality of PSHE provision, yet rejects the obvious solution. If  PSHE and SRE is made compulsory in all schools, it will be treated as other subjects, with teachers getting the training they need, and enough time being allocated in timetables for quality lessons.

“Countless reports have shown the value of statutory PSHE including a strong link to good academic performance. It is quite astonishing that the government should disregard the advice of its own committee and mounting external evidence that the current system doesn’t work. We have failed young people in our country with inadequate and unrealistic SRE, and we now look set to fail many more.”

Contrary to the government’s current assertion, that the vast majority of schools already make provision for PSHE and SRE, this is only obligatory in the 40 per cent of secondary schools which are maintained. This excludes the growing number of academies and free schools, let alone primary schools.

Terrence Higgins Trust, campaigns for universal statutory status for SRE in all schools as part of the Sex Education Forum,

Ruth Hunt

Ruth Hunt

Reacting to the news Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt, said: “We are disappointed with the government’s decision not to make PSHE statutory and inclusive in schools. High-quality PSHE has a key role to play in making sure all young people have the information they need to stay safe, healthy and prepared for life in 21st century Britain. Lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) young people overwhelmingly tell us they are not receiving the information they need to make safe, informed choices about their wellbeing, including online. We are however pleased that consideration will be given to reviewing sex and relationships education (SRE). Existing guidance was developed at a time when teachers were prevented from talking about LGBT issues in school at all, and so we strongly encourage new guidance which reflects the experiences of LGBT young people.”

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