Health and education groups have expressed dismay over the removal of clauses to make Personal Social Health and Economic Education a statutory part of the National Curriculum. The proposal was dropped from the Children, Schools and Families Bill when it was rushed through Parliament in the ‘wash-up’ of outstanding business on April 7th, and would have required schools to teach sex education as a mandatory subject, with information on contraception and stable relationships, including same-sex partnerships.
The last-minute change has been condemned in a statement co-signed by a number of sexual health organisations, including Abortion Rights, accusing the government of threatening the future well-being of children and young people. The statement reads:
We are dismayed. Clauses to make Personal Social, Health and Economic Education including sex and relationships education a statutory part of the National Curriculum for all state schools in England were removed from the Children, Schools and Families Bill yesterday. This leaves our young people with no guarantee of appropriate support on some of the most pressing issues they will be faced with as they grow into adulthood. This cannot be right. As organisations that represent parents, teachers, young people and health care professionals we are completely aghast and appalled.
Young people themselves tell us that the information they receive at school about sex and relationships is too little, too late and too biological. A survey of over 20,000 young people found 61 per cent of boys and 70 per cent of girls aged over 17 reported not receiving any information at school about personal relationships . Parents support statutory sex and relationships education; a survey found that 81 per cent of parents agreed that all children and young people should have mandatory sex and relationships education lessons. 89 per cent of teachers surveyed agreed that PSHE (including SRE) should be a statutory national curriculum subject.
Statutory PSHE Education is critical for the future wellbeing of our children and young people. Whilst yesterday’s decision has delayed this, we will continue to fight for this fundamental right of knowledge and information for our young people.
Julie Bentley, Chief Executive, FPA
Simon Blake, Chief Executive, Brook
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, BHA
Bridie Collins, Head of Relationship and Marriage Education, MARRIAGE CARE
Mike Diamond, Acting Director UK and West Europe, MSI
Rev Sharon Ferguson MA, Chief Executive, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
Anne Furedi, Chief Executive, BPAS
Lisa Hallgarten, Director, Education For Choice
Andy Hamflett , Chief Executive, UK Youth Parliament
Ann Henderson, Chair, Abortion Rights.
Ruth Hilton, Chair, Jewish Action and Training for Sexual Health
Annabel Kanabus, Director, AVERT
Anna Martinez, Chief Executive, Sex Education Forum
Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive, THT
Sarah Payne, Chief Executive, YWCA England and Wales
Dr Keith Radcliffe, President, British Association of Sexual Health and HIV
Claire Walker, Director of Policy and Communications. Parent line Plus
Hannah White, UK Policy Manager, womankind