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Sex and relationship education should be taught in all schools, say MPs

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Sex and relationship education (SRE) should be compulsory in all schools, a letter from several MPs has said.

Chairmen for the Education, Health, Home Affairs and Business committees have told the education secretary that personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) lessons, including sex education, should be taught in all primary and secondary schools.

At present, PSHE is not part of the national curriculum, but some MPs have lobbied for it to be made mandatory. Such an addition would include mandatory SRE lessons.

Pressure to respond

The group of chairmen wrote to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on 7 January, pressuring her to respond, after the government missed the deadline it had set for responding in full to the Education Committee’s recommendations.

Chair of the Education Committee Neil Carmichael said:

"As Chairs of four Select Committees, it is clear to us that the Secretary of State must work towards making PSHE and Sex and Relationships Education statutory in all schools, and we urge Nicky Morgan to make tackling issue of the PSHE in schools her New Year’s resolution."

Current policy

Currently, primary schools do not have to teach pupils beyond the basic biological aspects of sex education required by the national curriculum.

Secondary schools are required to teach 14 to 16 year olds about sexually transmitted diseases.

All schools must have an up-to-date policy that describes the content and organisation of SRE taught outside of the science curriculum. This must be made available for parents, including information on parents’ rights to withdraw their child from the lessons. 

Limitation of parents’ freedom

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, has warned that making SRE compulsory would remove the freedom of parents to decide how and when their child is educated on this subject.

"For many years, sex and relationship education has not provided a godly stance on sexuality or sexual relationships. Instead, it reflects our society’s increasingly liberal sexual norms.

"Making SRE mandatory would limit parents’ freedom to withdraw their children from these lessons if so desired and usurp their responsibility in deciding what they should and should not be taught at what age," she said.

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Related Coverage:
MPs want sex and relationship education taught in all schools (BBC)