After months of campaigning from both MPs and charity organisations, it has been confirmed that all children aged four and above will be given relationship education and all children in secondary school education will be taught age-appropriate material about sex and sexual/emotional relationships.
MPs, including Caroline Lucas for Brighton’s Green Party, have argued that the curriculum is archaic and in dire need of updating in order to reflect modern dangers for young people. Lucy Emmerson, The Sex Education Forum’s co-ordinator is trying to set up a programme involving information on “bodily boundaries, caring for one another, feelings and emotions”. Justine Greening claimed in a written statement that statutory guidance for Sex and Relationships Education was introduced in 2000 but is now becoming “increasingly outdated”.
All schools in England are now required to incorporate current dangers for young people including sexting, internet pornography and sexual harassment. Up until this point any school not under local authority control has not been obligated to include any sex and relationships education on their school’s curriculum. The only requirement is to teach the biological aspects of sex. This is, of course, incredibly divorced from reality and removes the sense of real experience. Amanda Townsend, a primary school teacher in Gloucestershire believes, “that if you’re teaching it as a science and don’t link it to anything else it’s just not going to work”.
The Department for Education have announced that they will be working with teachers, parents and safeguarding experts in order to develop age-appropriate but up-to-date material for schools.
Whilst parents will still have the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes, schools will be granted flexibility with how they choose to teach the material. This means that Faith schools will still be able to maintain the religious ethos of the school and teach in accordance with their faith.
Not only will the Sex and Relationships Education be updated and enforced but due to the amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill the Government will be able to put the plans in place to require Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) to be compulsory in all schools up and down the country. Since March 2013 PSHE has no longer been required to be taught in primary schools. The Government will now be able to ensure that all schools are bound by law to give PSHE education.
Although the fight for consistent, up-to-date, rounded Sex and Relationships Education is still ongoing, this marks a strong first step in the right direction. The future looks bright for our children’s PSHEs.
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