A recommendation made to have statutory inclusive sex and relationship eduction, AKA SRE, in schools has been rejected by the Education Secretary.
You may have seen a recent report which showed that half of all UK school students are being put at risk, due to inconsistent sex and relationship education. Campaigners also warned that issues covering gender, sexuality and domestic violence were not routinely covered by what SRE provisions are available.
Following an inquiry, Parliament’s Education Select Committee recommended that inclusive SRE should be made a statutory requirement in all schools as part of PSHE.
However, it has now come to light that Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan has (once again) refused this recommendation.
This was revealed in a letter to Mr Carmichael today, in which she wrote: “The Education Select Committee’s report in February 2015 highlighted a number of concerns with the teaching of PSHE and made recommendations to improve it, including through making it statutory.”
“I have also received your joint letter, signed by the respective Chairs of the Health, Home Affairs and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees, supporting the Committee’s recommendation to make PSHE and sex and relationships education (SRE) statutory in all schools.”
The vast majority of schools already make provision for PSHE and while the Government agrees that making PSHE statutory would give it equal status with other subjects, the Government is concerned that this would do little to tackle the most pressing problems with the subject, which are to do with the variable quality of its provision, as evidenced by Ofsted’s finding that 40% of PSHE teaching is less than good.”
“As such, while we will continue to keep the status of PSHE in the curriculum under review, our immediate focus will be on improving the quality of PSHE teaching in our schools.”
Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust Deborah Gold had this to say on the topic: “Today, the Government announced it won’t be following the recommendation of the Education Select Committee by making PSHE and SRE compulsory in all schools despite repeated calls from MPs, teachers and health organisations.”
“This means it will continue to be delivered according to the whims of individual head teachers rather than the needs of young people. We are extremely disappointed.”
“In her statement on the subject, the Minister says she wishes instead to focus on addressing the huge variability in the quality of PSHE and SRE, which ironically is the very reason why giving the subject statutory status is absolutely essential.”
“In our survey of young gay and bisexual men in 2014, we found 75% had never received information on relationships and being attracted to other guys and 33% had never received information about how HIV is passed on.”
“The number of young men diagnosed with HIV has doubled in the past 10 years, yet the Government seems willing to continue to allow a situation where some schools simply don’t have to discuss these topics beyond basic information in a science lesson.”
“We will continue to fight for PSHE and SRE in all schools and for all young people. We don’t call for statutory status as the solution to all our problems, we call for it as the bare minimum.”