The Accord Coalition for inclusive schooling has welcomed a new report showing widespread support among parents, school leaders and governors for Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) being taught in schools - and says the government needs to respond positively.
The report has called for the subject to be made a fixed requirement and for more teacher training and resources to be allocated to assist in its provision.
'Sex and Relationship Education: Views from teachers, parents and governors', was jointly commissioned by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, the National Association of Head Teachers, and the National Governors Association.
It finds that 90 per cent of parents and 93 per cent of Governors thought schools should be involved in providing SRE, but that 80 per cent of teachers do not feel sufficiently well-trained and confident to talk about the issues involved.
Only nine per cent of school leaders rated the teaching materials available to them as ‘very useful’. More than one in four school leaders and a fifth of governors believe that current SRE in schools is failing children by preparing them for the future ‘not well’ or ‘not at all well’.
Currently SRE is an optional subject that schools do not have to provide for their pupils. The only required sex education that they have to supply comes as part of teaching the biological aspects of human growth and reproduction as part of the National Curriculum for Science.
The chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, commented: ‘It is very important that all children receive high quality, objective and age appropriate SRE, as it is known to help reduce unwanted pregnancies, reduce sexually transmitted infections and equip young people with the tools to be clear about personal boundaries, understand appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, resist pressure and know who to ask for help if and when they need it. For older children it also helps them resist pressure, make safe choices and challenge misleading and inappropriate messages about sex in the media."
He added: "By denying children knowledge about how their bodies work and the risks they may face, we jeopardise their future health and wellbeing. SRE should be put on the same footing as most other subjects and be made part of the National Curriculum, while teachers should also receive far better training, and parents and teachers be given better teaching resources. We hope the Government will respond positively to the need to greatly improve the provision of SRE in our schools in its forthcoming curriculum review."