Thursday 11 February 2016

Terrence Higgins Trust condemns government decision on Sex and Relationships Education

Already two months later than expected, having promised to comment by the end of last year, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has ignored countless reports, evidence and calls - most notably from the Education Select Committee - to make personal, social and health education (PSHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) statutory.

Instead, the government has announced it will work with a group of leading head teachers and practitioners to improve PSHE, but this will not include statutory status, and is hardly likely to have the breadth or scope to tackle Ofsted’s finding that 40 per cent of PSHE teaching is not of sufficient quality.

Shaun Griffin, Executive Director External Affairs, Terrence Higgins Trust said:

The government missed its own deadline in reply to the Education Select Committee on PSHE, and now reveals itself to have completely  ignored that report, and the recommendation of no less than four chairs of parliamentary committees. Quite incredible.

Confusingly, in its letter the government expresses concern around the variable quality of PSHE provision, yet rejects the obvious solution. If  PSHE and SRE is made compulsory in all schools, it will be treated as other subjects, with teachers getting the training they need, and enough time being allocated in timetables for quality lessons.

Countless reports have shown the value of statutory PSHE including a strong link to good academic performance. It is quite astonishing that the government should disregard the advice of its own committee and mounting external evidence that the current system doesn’t work. We have failed young people in our country with inadequate and unrealistic SRE, and we now look set to fail many more.

Contrary to the government’s current assertion, that the vast majority of schools already make provision for PSHE and SRE, this is only obligatory in the 40 per cent of secondary schools which are maintained. This excludes the growing number of academies and free schools, let alone primary schools.

As part of the Sex Education Forum , Terrence Higgins Trust, is campaigning for universal statutory status for SRE in all schools.

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