All children & young people will receive good quality SRE if:
1. Every school is expected to have a programme of SRE – this includes primary schools
Currently there is no requirement for primary schools to teach about relationships and what is acceptable versus abusive behaviour, yet abuse can start at any age.
“It is not fair that different schools tell people different things or nothing at all!” Young person (SEF, 2011)
2. Teachers are properly trained to teach SRE and have enough time to teach it effectively (as part of broader personal, social, health and economic education).
90% of teachers of SRE consulted by the Sex Education Forum (2014) think teachers should have the option to train as specialists in PSHE Education at initial teacher training
“Give teachers appropriate training because they feel embarrassed talking about it with young people” young person aged 17, (SEF, 2013)
Only 3% of teachers said their teacher training equipped them to teach SRE and around three-quarters of teachers of SRE say they need more training to be able to teach the subject to a high quality (SEF, 2008b)
“More than the one lesson in five years like I did” Young person aged 16 (SEF, 2013)
3. Children are taught honestly and openly about their bodies and sex as this helps to keep them safe. For example, teaching the correct names for sexual parts of the body is a must.
Ofsted have raised concerns that some primary schools do not teach correct names for sexual parts of the body (Ofsted, 2013)
“We should be more scared of keeping quiet than of finding out, the former saves lives the other claims them.” Young person, (SEF, 2011)
4. Pupils are guaranteed to learn medically correct facts about their bodies, how to maintain sexual and reproductive health and about the practicalities of getting treatment and advice. Factual information is clearly separated from opinion.
“At school we did not learn about the basics e.g. the many types of contraception or the risks of sex, we are left to discover for ourselves (the hard way)” Young person aged 16 (SEF, 2013)
40% of young people don’t know or are unsure where to find a local sexual health clinic (SEF, 2013)
“children should have better sex education lessons in high school, all I had was a video of a woman giving birth” Young person aged 17 (SEF, 2013)
5. Relationships education counts for at least half of SRE. High quality relationships education develops the skills and understanding for positive, healthy, pleasurable relationships including same-sex relationships. It doesn’t shy away from real life issues including domestic violence, exploitation and pornography.
“We need to learn about the different types of sexual assault, no matter how minor”. Young person aged 16 (SEF, 2013)
83% of parents want schools to address issues about pornography in SRE (NAHT, 2013)
“There wasn't any talk about consent or 'sexting' in sex ed. classes in school” Young person aged 16 (SEF, 2013)
6. Young people have a chance to think about values and influences (such as media, faith and culture) that shape their attitudes to sex and relationships.
“I feel like my school mainly focused on the science of sex. We didn’t talk about emotional or religious aspects at all, which I think would have been extremely helpful.” Young person (SEF, 2012)
“[Teach] how unrealistic pornography is and how it in no way reflects real and healthy relationships” Young person (SEF, 2013).
7. The school promotes gender and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality and challenges all forms of discrimination in SRE lessons and in every day school life.
Only 25% of young people had learnt anything about safe sex between men at school (Youth Chances, 2014).
“Sex is always stressed as being dangerous just for girls. But I'd really like it if the importance and the impact emotionally and physically was placed on males too if that makes sense”. Young person aged 18 (SEF, 2013)
“I learnt very little anyway but I needed LGBT knowledge and I didn't get any. All I have ever learned about it was either from the internet or my own relationships (it’s a little late by then, don't you think)” Young person aged 19 (SEF, 2013)
“Include more education about transsexual transgender issues to raise awareness and understanding” Young person aged 20-25 (SEF, 2013)
8. Pupils are asked for their views about SRE in the school so that teaching can be made relevant to their real lives and adapted as their needs change.
“Focus on relationships would be nice, as well as what is consensual sex and what isn't, it didn't really come up in my syllabus and in reality by the time the education started half the year were already having sex” Young person aged 17 (SEF, 2013)
Eight-year old children asked about their SRE told their teacher “SRE would be better if teachers could help us understand more, show us diagrams, explain in more detail and say it in a better emotion’" Goose Green Primary School, 2013).
9. Schools talk to parents and carers about SRE and offer them support to talk about growing up with their child at home too.
Research shows that most parents want to be involved in SRE and to know more about what the school provides (Emmerson, 2011)
“I think schools need to let parents know more details about what’s being taught… if I’d have known what they were teaching in sex education, I could have reinforced what they were learning”. Dad, London (DCSF, 2009)
“It is a kids right to be taught it. They need to be educated on what is right and wrong. It protects them”. Dad, North of England (DCSF, 2009)
These messages have been developed for our 'It's my right' campaign for statutory SRE. Get more campaign resources and find out how you can take action.
DCSF (2009) Customer voice research, Sex and Relationships Education, Sherbert Research, DCSF.
Emmerson, L (2011) Parents and SRE: A Sex Education Forum evidence briefing, London: Sex Education Forum
Goose Green Primary School (2013) Case study published on the Sex Education Forum web-site
National Association of Headteachers (2013) Research carried out in April 2013 by Research Now and commissioned by the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and press released by NAHT in May 2013
Sex Education Forum (2008a) Forum briefing: Teachers survey on sex and relationships education, NCB.
Sex Education Forum (2008b) Forum briefing: Young people’s survey on sex and relationships education, NCB.
Sex Education Forum (2011) Young people’s experiences of HIV and AIDS education, NCB.
Sex Education Forum (2013) Survey with young people about consent and SRE, published in The Consent Issue, 2014, NCB.
Sex Education Forum (2014) ‘Your experiences of teaching SRE’ survey of over 200 teachers of SRE in England.
Ofsted (2013) ‘Not yet good enough; personal, social, health and economic education in schools’
METRO Youth Chances, (2014.) Youth Chances Summary of First Findings: the experiences of LGBTQ young people in England. London: METRO. Access from Youth Chances web-site where the report can be downloaded.