Mumsnet sex education survey

 

When we heard that the government was conducting an internal review into Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) education, we thought it would be useful to conduct a Mumsnet sex education survey to gather your views on the thorny matter of Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) - perhaps the most controversial aspect of PSHE.

Teenagers holding handsMany newspaper articles get written about sex education, and many lobby groups are active on the issue, but it seemed to us that the views of parents themselves have often been overlooked.

So we asked you what you thought: you can see the full survey results in detail here. 

 

Mumsnet sex education survey results

The survey revealed just how supportive Mumsnet members are of comprehensive sex education.

  • A very high proportion (98%) were happy for their children to attend SRE lessons
  • 92% think SRE should be a compulsory subject in secondary schools
  • 69% think SRE should be a compulsory subject in primary schools
  • 90% think there should be a statutory duty on all schools, including faith schools and academies, to deliver comprehensive SRE


This is in stark contrast to the current position where there is no statutory duty on schools to provide comprehensive sex and relationship education; the absence of this statutory duty is not covered by the government's consultation.

"Our survey gives a very clear result: when parents are asked about sex and relationships education in schools, they want compulsory, appropriate education." Justine Roberts

All schools must, by law, provide a 'broad and balanced curriculum' that 'prepares young people for the opportunities and responsibilities of adult life', but how they do this is up to individual schools. In maintained schools, parts of sex education (anatomical and reproductive facts) are statutory parts of the national science curriculum. Maintained secondary schools are also required to address HIV and AIDS, and sexually transmitted infections. (Source: PSHE Association.)

Parents are entitled to withdraw their children from any sex and relationships education beyond the statutory parts of the curriculum, and the government has said it has no plans to change this. 

Of the 98% of respondents who said they were happy for their children to attend sex education lessons, 52% said it was because sex education promoted healthy relationships. Of those who were not happy for their children to attend sex education lessons (less than 1% of the total), 49% said it was because they would rather teach their children about sex themselves. And 39% of those surveyed thought parents should continue to have the right to withdraw their children from sex and relationships education.

In addition, 90% of those surveyed think sex education should address matters around sexual orientation (the mean age at which survey respondents think this should be addressed is 10.5); 82% think it should address sexual violence and sexual bullying (mean age: 12.3), and 80% think it should explore issues to do with sex and the media (11.8), 'sexting' (12.3), and pornography (12.8).

As Justine says: "Our survey gives a very clear result: when parents are asked about sex and relationships education in schools, they want compulsory, appropriate education. It's a concern that the government is reluctant to consult on the matter of whether all schools – including primary schools, faith schools and academies – should have a statutory duty to deliver comprehensive SRE to all children.

"We hope that the results of the government's review will reflect the wish to see broad, responsive, age-appropriate SRE in all schools, and that teachers will be given the tools they need to deliver it."

 

Full survey results

1. At what age do you think sex and relationships education - in general - in school should start?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Age 4 to 6 28% 295
Age 7 to 9 39% 409
Age 10 to 11 22% 236
Age 11 to 13 9% 99
Age 14 to 16 1% 11
Age 17+ 0% 1
Sex education should not be discussed in schools at all 0% 3
Don't know/ NS 1% 7
answered question   1061
skipped question   0
     
     
2. If you are happy for your child(ren) to attend sex education classes or sessions in school, which of the following is the main reason for this?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Avoidance of unwanted pregnancy 5% 55
Promotion of healthy relationships 52% 542
Avoidance of disease 3% 28
No real reason - should just be part of what is taught in schools 32% 336
Don't know 0% 3
Other (see next page) 8% 79
answered question 1043 1043
     
     
3. If you don't want your child(ren) to attend sex education classes or sessions in school, which of the following is the main reason for this?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Religious reasons 3% 1
Rather teach my child myself about sex education 49% 18
Gives children too much information 16% 6
No real reason - just don't think it should be part of what is taught in schools 0% 0
Don't know 16% 6
Other (see next page) 16% 6
answered question   38
4. Please say to what extent you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about Sex Education in schools. * NB sexting is "the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones"
Answer Options NET agree Neither agree nor disagree NET disagree Don't know Response Count
Sex and relationships education should be a compulsory part of the national curriculum, at primary level . (At the moment, very few parts of sex and relationships education are compulsory parts of the National Curriculum (the exceptions are basic facts about reproduction and puberty, viruses such as HIV, and sexually-transmitted infections). 69% 12% 17% 1% 1061
Sex and relationships education should be a compulsory part of the national curriculum, at secondary level . (At the moment, very few parts of sex and relationships education are compulsory parts of the National Curriculum (the exceptions are basic facts about reproduction and puberty, viruses such as HIV, and sexually-transmitted infections). 92% 3% 4% 1% 1061
All schools, including faith schools and academies, should have a statutory obligation to deliver a comprehensive programme of sex and relationships education. (At the moment, they do not have this obligation.) 90% 4% 5% 1% 1061
Parents should have the right to withdraw their children from the non-statutory parts of sex and relationships education. (At the moment, certain aspects of sex education – the basic anatomical facts, and some information about sexually transmitted infections and HIV – are statutory parts of the National Curriculum in science, but parents have the choice to withdraw their children from all other aspects of sex education.) 39% 11% 45% 4% 1061
School-age children are entitled to expect comprehensive, age-appropriate information about sex and relationships. 92% 4% 2% 1% 1061
At some point, sex education should address matters around sexual orientation. 90% 5% 4% 1% 1061
Sex education should specifically address the issue of sexual violence and bullying. 82% 8% 8% 2% 1061
Sex education should explore sex and the media (to include subjects such as sexting* and pornography). 80% 9% 9% 2% 1061

5. How old do you think a child should be before having a discussion or taught about the following in sex education?
Answer Options Age 4 to 6 Age 7 to 9 Age 10 to 11 Age 11 to 13 Age 14 to 16 Age 17+ Should not be part of sex education at all Don't know Response Count
Issues to do with sexual orientation 11% 20% 21% 30% 14% 1% 1% 2% 1061
Issues to do with sexual violence and bullying 2% 7% 19% 38% 28% 3% 2% 2% 1061
Issues to do with sex and the media 2% 9% 26% 38% 21% 1% 2% 2% 1061
Issues to do with sexting* 0% 5% 20% 44% 24% 2% 3% 3% 1061
Issues to do with pornography 0% 4% 16% 37% 33% 4% 3% 2% 1061
                  1061

 

Last updated: 30-Nov-2011 at 12:13 PM