The House of Lords Select Committee on HIV and AIDS has urged that Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) be made a part of the National Curriculum.
In its latest report ‘No vaccine, no cure: HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom’, published today, the committee recommend that ‘the Government’s [current] internal review of PSHE considers the issue of access to SRE as a central theme. Teaching on the biological and social aspects of HIV and AIDS should be integrated into SRE. Whilst acknowledging that the review is yet to complete its work, we recommend that the provision of SRE should be a mandatory requirement within the National Curriculum, to enable access for all. Such education should begin within all schools from Key Stage 1’.
Chair of the Accord Coalition, which campaigns for inclusive education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE said ‘Surveys show that parents want children to receive Personal, Social, Health and Economic education, which includes Sex and Relationship Education, that children want to receive more and better quality PSHE, that teachers want extra support and materials to help in teaching it, and issues of physical and sexual abuse continue to devastate the lives of many children. Meanwhile, compulsory PSHE was supported by the Church of England, the Catholic Education Service and all the main political parties during passage of the 2010 Children, Schools and Families Bill.
‘Good PSHE is vital to the health and well-being of young people. We therefore urge the Government to take heed of the House of Lord’s report and expand the terms of reference of its current National Curriculum review to ensure that making the issue of PSHE compulsory is properly considered’.
The NSPCC’ report ‘Child cruelty in the UK 2011: An NSPCC study into childhood abuse and neglect over the past 30 years’ found that in 2009 one in four 18-24 year olds (25.3%) had been physically attacked by an adult during childhood, sexually assaulted, or severely neglected at home and that one in twenty children (4.8%) had been sexually assaulted – either by an adult or another child.
The report Sex and Relationship Education: Views from teachers, parents and governors, commissioned by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, the National Association of Head Teachers, the National Governors Association and Durex, found that 90% of parents and 93% of Governors thought schools should be involved in providing SRE, but that 80% of teachers do not feel sufficiently well trained and confident to talk about SRE. Only 9% 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’.
Current SRE provision in the UK lags behind that of many developed countries and a 2007 survey by the UK Youth parliament of over 20,000 young people found that shockingly 61 per cent of boys and 70 per cent of girls aged over 17 reported not receiving any information at school about personal relationships.