Sex and Relationship Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th April 2019.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require the provision of further information for parents on the material being used to teach sex and relationships education in schools; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what research his Department has (a) commissioned, (b) plans to commission and (c) evaluated on the effectiveness of teaching sex education in schools; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when information on obtaining abortion was first included in school sex education lessons; at what age pupils are provided with such information; who he consulted on that information; what recent representations he has received (a) in favour of and (b) against the current policy; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Government has no plans to bring forward further legislation relating to relationships education and relationships and sex education (RSE).

Schools will be required to have regard to the statutory guidance for the subjects. The draft guidance sets out that when schools consult with parents on their relationships education and RSE policy they should provide examples of the resources that they plan to use when teaching, as this can be reassuring for parents. Schools must also ensure that lessons are appropriate to the age and religious backgrounds of pupils. The Department is supporting schools in the implementation of these subjects and expects this support to include advice on positive engagement with parents.

Ofsted reported on the quality of provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), which covers sex and relationship education, in its 2013 report. The Department is considering what further information on the provision of the new curriculum may be needed. The report can be accessed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/not-yet-good-enough-personal-social-health-and-economic-education.

In 2015, the Department published a paper highlighting the impact of the provision of PSHE. The evidence summary provided a high level overview of recent reviews of personal wellbeing education and interventions which could be applied during PSHE lessons, including sex education. The paper can be accessed here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/412291/Personal_Social_Health_and_Economic__PSHE__Education_12_3.pdf.

Sex education has been compulsory in all maintained secondary schools since 1993. The Sex and Relationship Education Guidance (2000) includes education around abortion, and it is for schools to decide at what age it is appropriate to introduce the topic. The new draft statutory guidance covers intimate and sexual relationships, including choices in relation to pregnancy, and sets out that teaching should provide accurate, impartial information on all options, including keeping the baby, adoption, abortion and where to get further help. It also sets out that secondary pupils should be made aware of legal provisions when relevant topics are being taught. Schools may address abortion in other areas of the curriculum, such as religious education.

The content of the draft guidance was subject to a public consultation from July to November 2018 which attracted 11,000 online responses from a wide range of respondents including head teachers, teachers, parents and young people. The Government response to the consultation can be accessed here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/780768/Government_Response_to_RSE_Consultation.pdf.

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