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UK sex education will be statutory

November 5th, 2009

Dr Petra

After several years debating and consulting on this issue, the government have finally conceded to make sex education statutory.

This follows years of campaigning from educators, parents groups and healthcare staff. And most importantly after years of young people saying they wanted more than just basic biological information – they needed to know about how to enjoy healthy relationships.

The new plans for SRE (sex and relationships education) will focus on age-appropriate messages and will focus on feelings, emotions and respect – as well as information about physical development, pregnancy and contraception, and protecting yourself from STIs.

Parents will still be allowed to opt out – but only until the child is 15. So they should still get one year of SRE (assuming they don’t leave school before 16). The number of parents who do opt out of SRE is generally low, although the age 15 limit does raise issues about those kids who may need sex ed earlier and may not be getting this information from either home or school.

Generally I think practitioners, educators and hopefully parents will be happy with these proposals. We are living in an increasingly sexualised and commercial culture and our sex education needs to be statutory and match up to the needs of young people to ensure they can enjoy happy and healthy relationships as adults. And avoid teenage pregnancy and STIs.

Schools are still going to be allowed to deliver sex ed along with their particular ‘ethos’ (so faith schools may still be able to limit aspects of what’s taught relating to sexuality and contraception).

Predictably press coverage has taken the negative line – and you can expect most coverage to probably follow this ‘parents lose their rights’ format (not an accurate representation of what’s going to happen, but hey its our media’s standard line on sex ed :-(

If you want to read the whole summary, reports, parent survey and what’s going to be covered on the curriculum it’s all here.

I’ll be blogging about this in more detail next week, including more information about the changes to SRE and what that will involve for teachers, parents and young people. If you’ve any questions you want me to address in this blog about this issue, do feel free to get in touch.

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