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Guest blog: We need to put Sex and Relationship Education on the National Curriculum - for all

(134 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 08-Jun-13 15:22:34

Hello all

An amendment to the Children and Families Bill currently before parliament has been tabled, which would:

1. Add PSHE to National Curriculum;
2. Make age appropriate SRE a statutory component of this curriculum at all 4 Key Stages;
3. Specify that same-sex relationships, sexual violence, domestic violence and sexual consent be part of the curriculum on PSHE

The amendment is backed by the One Billion Rising campaign and other groups including End Violence Against Women, the EQUALS coalition and Women's Aid, and will be debated this coming Tuesday 11th June. Here Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Children's Minister who tabled the motion (along with Sharon Hodgson MP and Stella Creasy MP), explains why the proposals are vital to ensure both young men and women develop positive and equal relationships with each other, and calls on Mumsnetters to contact their MP asking for her/his support.

Tell us what you think here on the thread, and if you blog on this issue don't forget to leave your URL. If you like this post, do spread the word via the share buttons at the top of the page!


"We need to do more to protect children. Recent research by the Children's Commissioner found a shocking number of young people don't know what a good relationship looks like. This should be a wake up call that we are simply not doing enough to keep children safe.

Making clear, high-quality and age-appropriate sex and relationship education part of the National Curriculum is a vital and important step in equipping children with the ability to protect themselves from abuse now and in the future. This is not just about biology - but about helping young people to develop healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships. A recent report by the NSPCC found that a third of girls in relationships aged 13-17 have experienced physical or sexual violence in relationships, while one in 16 of this group reported experiencing rape. Not only are a third of young women experiencing violence and abuse in their relationships but a third of young boys are the perpetrators of this abuse. This is clearly a significant problem.

We need to break the cycle and education is key to preventing it from happening in the first place. With children and young people increasingly exposed to sexual content online and through social media, the need for information has never been greater. According to the Children?s Commissioner, boys as young as 11 are frequently exposed to pornographic images, and the NSPCC reports calls to Childline by teenage boys who are worried about what it is doing to them. There is strong evidence of a link between explicit images and a rise in sexual aggression and harassment of the opposite sex.

Not only does good quality sex and relationships education help protect children from becoming victims of abuse, it will help children develop healthy attitudes which will prevent them from becoming perpetrators of abuse themselves. It is vital that children can make healthy and informed decisions about their lives, and develop the confidence, skills and resilience to make good choices. This is too important to leave to chance.

That is why on Tuesday we will ask the Government to support an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to deliver age-appropriate sex and relationships education in all schools and give teachers the tools they need to deliver it.

Sexual abuse is not inevitable, and we have a duty to do all we can to prevent it. Children and young people have a right to expect that from their Government. Show your support for making Sex and Relationship Education part of the National Curriculum by contacting your MP to ask them to join me in voting for New Clause 20."

OddSockMonster Wed 19-Jun-13 12:50:54

You're welcome, I thought of you specifically when I read that.

I also wonder if it was made clear when it was taken to parliament, and if that would have made a difference. Hopefully it will continue to be debated and come back at some point soon.

First time I've written to my MP. I got a very good letter back, mentioning some of the other child protection work she's heavily involved in too. Starting to form the opinion she's a very decent person smile

amazingmumof6 Wed 19-Jun-13 10:55:42

"*and the new clause would give parents the right to opt their child out of sex and relationship education up to the age of 15.*"

as I said all the way through, I agree with the idea , it was the thought all of it being obligatory that I was against.

but I have to add, that if it had been accepted, and I'm pretty sure it will be at some point, my worry would have been that despite the clause for opting out would have ended being scrapped after a while - a la drip-feeding tactics

so for now I wish it had been accepted as proposed to benefit a large amount of children, no doubt, but I don't think it is something that's gone away entirely.

oddsock thanks for posting that.

OddSockMonster Tue 18-Jun-13 12:55:57

I know this thread has kind of gone to sleep now but I just thought I'd let you know the key bits my response from contacting my local (Labour) MP, as it answers a couple of the issues various people have has problems with.

"On 11th June Labour called a vote in the House of Commons to place PSHE (including sex and relationship education) in the National Cirriculum, at all 4 Key Stages (in primary and secondary schools - with the provision of 'age appropriate guidance'). The content would be put out to consultation to ensure it would be age appropriate for children at different stages, and the new clause would give parents the right to opt their child out of sex and relationship education up to the age of 15. Unfortunately the amendment was defeated."

These links were also included...

www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/not-yet-good-enough-personal-social-health-and-economic-education-schools

www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/press_release/content_505

OddSockMonster Thu 13-Jun-13 11:07:02

That's a shame Villa

SuffolkNWhat Thu 13-Jun-13 08:02:57

If it did we'd be self employed. What I am going to say may be a bit of a shock but teachers pay tax too!

And technically as a tax payer you are paying for the education you had as a child not your current children's education.

If you are going to start with the "but we employ you" BS then at least get your facts right.

Also you seem to be laying this at the door of frontline teaching staff. You do know that we have very little control over what must be covered in the curriculum? Our leaders on high make that decision (just as they do with school closures such as snow days but don't let the DM know as they love a bit of teacher bashing for that don't they)

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 13-Jun-13 06:34:37

amazingmumof6
"Last time I checked the teachers salary were paid from tax payers money.
that makes teachers our employees, technically."

Technically it doesn't.

amazingmumof6 Thu 13-Jun-13 03:18:02

bumble shock you are kidding, right?

Last time I checked the teachers salary were paid from tax payers money.
that makes teachers our employees, technically - and yes, they do answer to us about what the heck is going on at school!
they can not have sovereign power over our kids, but should work in a supportive partnership based on two-way communication with the parents! which is what my experience has been so far, not dictatorship!

just because the school is free that doesn't mean the teachers can have total control of every aspect of the pupils education without the parents' permission or even worse, in direct opposition of them, against their wishes or while ignoring their religions views.

The alternative is not home education.
If it was, I would consider it
but for now it is not necessary to take my kids out of school, we are doing perfectly well!
they are allowed to be excluded from any lessons we object to on occasion.

psychologymum Wed 12-Jun-13 23:40:37

I can understand why some people may be against teachers discussing same-sex relationships on religious grounds. However, I am a psychology teacher and we cover topics related to same-sex relationships as part of the curriculum anyway, which perhaps parents don't know e.g. the ineffectiveness of aversion therapy when it was used for homosexuality in the 1960s.

Discussion of sexual violence, domestic violence and sexual consent cannot be against anyone's beliefs and should definitely be covered in PSHE in my opinion.

bumbleandbumble Wed 12-Jun-13 21:55:59

ugh. this thread makes me ...ugh

If you want total control over your childrens education, home school.

If you want them to enjoy a decent school for free, then send them to a state school where they should be taught a variety of topics including a broad based up to date sex education. If you send your children to a free state run school you simply cannot be expected to like/agree with every method/topic and how it is taught. the topics are for the greater good and will not be perfectly tailored to your liking...that is why good parents step in and supplement learning.

amazingmumof6 Wed 12-Jun-13 15:40:12

did they?

fantastic!

VillaVillekulla Wed 12-Jun-13 09:12:48

I agree with the blog and with the principle of making sex ed compulsory and to cover relationships and consent. I think the Tories and Lib Dems voted against the amendment yesterday sad angry

amazingmumof6 Wed 12-Jun-13 07:39:37

and thank also, I'm chuffed you quoted me!wink

<realizes revolving doors can't be locked easily>

amazingmumof6 Wed 12-Jun-13 07:35:29

same in Hungary neverland

good old communism? grin grin grin

katiebrown1969 Wed 12-Jun-13 07:31:31

I certainly would agree to the notion of sex ed,positive r/ships,being good friends and generally being a nice,polite,accepting member of society being taught in all schools.BUT I would like to know what is being taught so that I am aware of what my child has been told,I wouldn`t want to confuse her over something that is my point of view or particular thinking.
My daughter is in year 1 (6 years old) and came out of school yesterday and told me she had a boyfriend and how fit he was.Gosh I was shocked,Even more so when I realised it was a young man out of a popular pop group.I am not even aware she knew the group or the music.
Geared towards respective ages I don`t think anyone is too young to be given the guidance/information in a responsible manner.

Neverland2013 Tue 11-Jun-13 23:31:35

I agree with amazingmumof6 - 'I prefer to be in charge of what my children learn regarding those topics above.'
I don't think that even more sex education will reduce teenage pregnancies. I was born in the Czech Republic and although sex education is not taught until the age of 13, teenage pregnancies are still very rare.

MsMarple Tue 11-Jun-13 18:24:24

This is absolutely insane. You acknowledge that 'There is strong evidence of a link between explicit images and a rise in sexual aggression and harassment of the opposite sex.' and yet you are proposing a programme that will make very sure that children are exposed to explicit ideas/images from a very young age - even if their parents have taken great pains to protect them from inappropriate images. Seems to me you will end up increasing the damage.

Surely it would be better to join the campaigns to remove pornography from sight in newsagents and clean up the sexual imagery on television, billboards, online and in video games, so that children aren't exposed to this everywhere they turn in the first place.

Is it possible to only give sex education to young people when they are individually ready for it? Otherwise it seems to me that the state will be just another violator.

OddSockMonster Tue 11-Jun-13 17:50:20

Does anyone know how this panned out today?

BoneyBackJefferson Tue 11-Jun-13 17:12:00

SuffolkNWhat

the point is that a large amount of children will not be taught this as many types of school do not have to follow the national curriculum.

fluffy3 Tue 11-Jun-13 16:54:28

Like many things the government does - great idea - appallingly executed.
On the surface this issue seems so simple and just good sense, but as we see from experience, once agreed to, this will become a Trojan horse that opens the door to groups of people with questionable motives that had you prior known about it, you would never have agreed to.
Take sex education for example, seems a great idea, to ask your teacher to take responsibility for a sensitive job that really, as a parent, comes with the territory. Beware - you are allowing someone to come between you and your child.
I agree not all parents want to talk about this tough subject but for those of us confident to do it, I don't see why my requirements cant be accommodated - we are a free democracy - or are others afraid of alternative opinions? I don't want anyone with a different agenda talking to my child without my knowledge and agreement.
I speak from experience, I went to my school and asked for information about PHSE / Sex ed. curriculum for Year 6. The school have misled me and put material in front of my child that was completely inappropriate.
Good Sex ed? In practice, it is far a few between
If the government wants to RECOMMEND, then that is one thing but with all these conversations about same sex marriage and homosexuality I certainly don't want the government to slide this in hidden in wrappings of awareness of domestic violence awareness.
Recommend - yes compel - no thank you

Offred Tue 11-Jun-13 08:45:35

I think you are missing the point that teachers and schools have to handle these issues anyway because for 6-7 hours a day our children and teachers are there in school conducting relationships... Some guidance and support with that would be helpful wouldn't it? Currently we have a ridiculous atmosphere of silence surrounding the discussion of what is actually going on in schools everywhere already - students are conducting relationships with each other, 1 in 3 of them containing abuse, teachers are conducting relationships with each other and students are gossiping about that possibility even when it isn't going on, sometimes students and teachers are conducting relationships, particularly in 6th form. It is happening, sex ed wont miraculously introduce the concept of sex and relationships into schools, it will help open lines of communication and provide a standard and support teachers and pupils if it is done right.

Abuse thrives in the current climate of titilation and prudishness.

This isn't gove's idea. I doubt gove will be in favour of it.

TheFallenNinja Tue 11-Jun-13 07:29:51

And we are all honestly comfortable with this being handled by the state, specifically Michael Gove currently.

As I have said, I have no issue with the content, none whatsoever, but I believe that the government of the day (whoever they are) will make such a dogs breakfast of it that all usefulness will be lost and rather than it be simple subject matter it will be come political dogma

The state does not allow gay marriage (for now), some mainstream
faiths are openly an aggressively homophobic, how will that be reconciled, this wants to talk about equality but every now and again there is huge debate on the lack of it, there are many ideals that the current statute runs contrary to.

I've been on MN a while now and one thing I can absolutely say is that on various topics we are wanting to give the state control on are the ones that cause the biggest disagreement on this very forum and bring out the most hostility, not unlike this thread.

Of course, in principle, education is the right way to inform, but the message will be lost.

SuffolkNWhat Tue 11-Jun-13 06:23:18

Boney but the majority are, those that aren't come under the other headings in your list. I know many people don't like faith schools but the state ones do have to follow the same rules as non faith ones!

Anyway slightly off the point of the thread here now <hijack over>

wonkey80 Mon 10-Jun-13 21:25:15

You have totally hit the nail on the head Fliss. It's about every child/young person having a nationally agreed, standardised curriculum with regards relationships, consent, sex, pornography, abuse etc so everyone is on an equal footing. If parents want to clarify or supplement their education at home (like with anything else on the National
Curriculum) then that is their right to do so, but at least the child/young person has all of the same information as their peers.

BoneyBackJefferson Mon 10-Jun-13 21:20:32

A maintained faith school will have to teach the NC, but not all faith schools are state funded.

SuffolkNWhat Mon 10-Jun-13 19:42:38

Faith schools absolutely do have to teach the NC unless an academy or free school.

You'd be hard pushed to find a faith school (state) that did not teach a full and comprehensive PSHE programme.

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