Accord join 100 signatories in calling for “an honest and open culture around sex and relationships” in schools

April 12, 2013

Over one hundred groups and individuals have added their name to a letter organised by the National Children’s Bureau Sex Education Forum (SEF) and published in today’s Times (£), which calls on the Government to ‘safeguard children by unambiguously including the essentials of sex education’ in National Curriculum science.

The letter, signed by Accord’s Chair, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, follows publication by the Government of its revised draft National Curriculum in February, which offers less information on the teaching of sex education than in the current National Curriculum. The Accord Coalition had previously written to the Government about its proposals for the provision of sex education in Science, describing them as ‘cursory’.

Rabbi Romain said ‘Accord believes that all schools should teach age appropriate sex and relationships education, and we supports a rights based approach to its provision, grounded on evidence and needs of children and young people. Children are bombarded by misleading messages about sex and relationships in the media, and should be entitled o know about how their body work and of risks they may face.

‘However, the sex education element of the National Curriculum for Science is the only sex education that schools have to offer, and thus that some pupils will ever receive, so has added importance. The development of high quality and thorough sex education in schools is being frustrated by a small, but vocal and ideologically driven lobby, whose opinions lack firm evidence. We consequently therefore enthusiastically support this letter.’

The SEF is the country’s leading authority on age appropriate Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), which Accord joined in August 2012. The joint letter and its signatories are reproduced below:


“Sir, We are deeply concerned that the science curriculum proposals will have a negative effect on sex education.

Children have a right to learn about their bodies, physical development and reproduction. We know there is easy access to explicit sexual images on the internet. The National Curriculum science is the only compulsory part of sex and relationships education in schools and must teach children about how their bodies work to prepare them for growing up and to protect them from harm. However, the science proposals omit any reference to genitalia, puberty or sexual health.

We believe that these proposals will not help schools to ‘create an honest and open culture around sex and relationships’, as set out in the new Framework for Sexual Health Improvement. It is time to put any adult squeamishness about sex aside. We urge the government to safeguard children by unambiguously including the essentials of sex education in science.


Dr Hilary Emery, National Children’s Bureau; Justine Roberts, Mumsnet; Jane Lees, Sex Education Forum; Dr Anthony Falconer, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; Professor Lindsey Davies, Faculty of Public Health; Reg Bailey, Chief Executive, Mothers Union; National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People; Annette Smith, Chief Executive, Association for Science Education; Dr Chris Wilkinson, President, Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health; Dr Audrey Simpson, OBE, Acting Chief Executive, FPA (Family Planning Association); Sir Nick Partridge, CEO, tht (Terence Higgins Trust); Helen Lansdown, CEO, Deafax; Simon Blake, OBE, CEO, Brook; Royal College of Nursing; Institute of Health Promotion and Education (IHPE); Janet Atherton, President, Association of Directors of Public Health; Association of Young People’s Health; Martin Tod, Chief Executive, Men’s Health Forum; British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS); Jonathan Bartley, Co-Director, Ekklesia; Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; Martin Pendergast, Chairperson, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality; Leap Confronting Conflict; Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive, UK Youth; Susanne Rauprich, Chief Executive, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services; Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, MBE, Chair of The Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education; UK Youth Parliament; British Youth Council; Youth Net; ASDAN

And supported by the 75 member organisations of the Sex Education Forum:

Action for Children; APAUSE; Avert; ASHEC; BARCA-Leeds; Barnardo’s; Big Talk Education; Black Health Agency; Body & Soul; British Humanist Association; Brook London; Cambridge Education @ Islington; Caught in the Act; CHIV; Children’s Society; Church of England Education Division; The Christopher Winter Project; Cornwall Learning; CPHVA; CSN Consultancy Ltd; Deafax; Dept of Sexual & Reproductive Health Lewisham PCT Community Health Services; Esteem Resource Network; Family Lives; FFLAG; Forward UK; Grace Academy Foundation; Image in Action; KIDS; Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement; Loudmouth Education & Training; Marie Stopes International; MEDFASH; Mencap; The Methodist Church; NAPCE; National AIDS Trust; National Secular Society; Naz Project London; National Children’s Bureau; NGA; NHEG; Nottingham Domestic Violence Forum; NSCoPSE; National Youth Agency; Oasis; One Plus One; Oxfordshire County Council; Platform 51; Population Matters; PSHE Association; Relate; Richmond upon Thames College; Romance Academy; Scope; Sexpression:UK; SHARe Team (Sexual Health and Relationships Team); SRE in London; Stonewall; Straight Talking Peer Education; StreetwiseGB; Teaching Lifeskills; Teens & Toddlers; Tender; Womankind; Woodhouse College; Working with Men

And supported by life members of the Sex Education Forum:

Anne Weyman, OBE; Sue Plant; Dilys Went; Hilary Dixon; Liz Swinden; Lorna Scott; Melody Dougan; Hansa Patel-Kanwal, OBE; Jo Adams, MBE; Gill Frances, OBE; Alison Hadley, OBE”



In December a cross Party enquiry of MPs looking into the issue of teenage pregnancy recommended that schools be required to provide pupils with Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), and that teachers of SRE receive compulsory training in the subject. Their report, The Morning After: A Cross Party Inquiry into Unplanned Pregnancy, can be found here.

Similarly the House of Lords Select Committee on HIV and AIDS urged that SRE be made a part of the National Curriculum in their report ‘No vaccine, no cure: HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom, published in September 2011.

In July 2012 Channel 4 withdrew a resource that it had made available over the preceding ten years that supported the teaching of SRE in primary schools, so as to ensure that their products reflected the government’s ‘current policy’.

In January 2012 Nadine Dorries MP tabled, though later withdrew a Private Members’ Bill, which called for schools to teach girls aged 13 to 16 the ‘benefits of abstinence from sexual activity’.

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.

Sex and Relationship Education: Views from teachers, parents and governors (2010) found that 90% of parents 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’, and more than one in four school leaders rated the current provision of SRE in schools in preparing children for the future as ‘not well’ or ‘not at all well’.

One Response to Accord join 100 signatories in calling for “an honest and open culture around sex and relationships” in schools

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