Media release 28 March 2013

Proposed science curriculum falls short on sex education

The Sex Education Forum, based at leading children's charity the National Children's Bureau, is calling on the government to rethink changes to sex education within the science curriculum - the only compulsory part of the curriculum providing education on sex and growing up. The Forum shares concerns raised by peers this week, that the proposed changes will deprive children of a comprehensive and developmental programme of sex education in science classes.

Under the proposals, puberty is not included in the primary science curriculum and teachers are given a guidance note stating pupils 'should not be expected to understand how reproduction occurs'. In secondary schools pupils aged 11-13 would no longer learn about sexual health and disease, contraception, adolescence or hormones.

The proposals for reform of the National Curriculum have been debated by the Lords this week, where a number of peers have expressed the view that the 'science curriculum should teach pupils about growing up and cover sex with honesty and confidence'.

The Sex Education Forum urges that the National Curriculum gives clear direction to schools to teach pupils about puberty and sex in science. Adopting clear and unambiguous language would enable parents to better understand what their children learn at school and help fulfil the government ambition to promote an open and honest culture about sex and relationships, as set out in the Framework for Sexual Health Improvement (March 2013).

Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum said: 'Children and parents look to schools to provide young people with reliable information about their bodies, growing up, human reproduction and sexual health. Schools need to know they have an obligation to teach basic information that is vital for a child's safety such as the correct names for genitalia. Furthermore, teaching children about sexual health must be included to safeguard the health of the next generation.'

The Sex Education Forum's full consultation response on proposed changes to the National Curriculum provides further details.



For more information please contact the National Children's Bureau's media office for on 0207 843 6047 or email For urgent enquiries out of office hours call 07721 097 033.


Notes to editors

About the Sex Education Forum

Members of the Sex Education Forum include over 60 national organisations and hundreds of SRE practitioners, with representatives from health, education, faith, disability and children's organisations who believe that ALL children and young people have the right to good SRE.


About the National Children's Bureau

The National Children's Bureau is a leading charity that for 50 years has been improving the lives of children and young people, especially the most vulnerable. We work with children and for children, to influence government policy, be a strong voice for young people and practitioners, and provide creative solutions on a range of social issues. For more information visit