News that plans to put Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) on the National Curriculum are being dropped by the government after opposition from the Conservatives has been greeted with dismay. The plans would have meant that for the first time children and young people in all state funded schools would be entitled to education about issues important to their future health and well being, including how to use contraception, resist peer pressure and avoid abusive relationships.
Now that this change in the law has been blocked, schools will only have to teach the basic elements of human biology as they appear on the science curriculum. It will be up to individual schools and governing bodies whether to cover the social, emotional and moral questions that SRE poses, and they will be under no obligation to take a balanced or accurate approach.
The changes that had been proposed were supported by a great range of people, including the UK Youth Parliament, teaching unions and health professionals. It is hugely disappointing that they have been scrapped during the undemocratic “wash-up” period, which follows the election being called. Unfortunately it will be children and young people who feel the impact of this decision.
Education Secretary Ed Balls has written to his shadow Michael Gove attacking as “very disappointing” the Conservative decision to block the bill. In response a Conservative spokesperson said that the party’s objection was to the plan to stop the parents of 15 year olds from withdrawing their children from SRE lessons.