Policy news archive

An archive of the Sex Education Forum's policy activities
 

2015

Call for gender-aware SRE
The Sex Education Forum is calling for schools to promote gender equality by making SRE gender-aware, and has published (24 September 2015) 'The Gender Issue' - a resource to support educators get to grips with sex and gender. 

Government response on SRE and PSHE
The Government has published their response to the Education Select Committee recommendations on SRE and PSHE with the option of making the subject statutory not discarded but deferred for further consideration. See our anaysis of the key themes. 

Ask your MP to call for statutory SRE
We have opened a campaign with an easy to use email template, which you can use to write to your MP asking them to call on the Government to make SRE statutory. Please take action and email your MP now!

Ask your MP candidates about SRE 
In the run up to the General Election we are inviting people to email their MP candidates to ask for their views on SRE. An editable template letter is available, with three key questions about SRE, and will automatically send your questions to the MP candidates registered in your area. Read the letter and key questions, and send your letter via the Terrence Higgins Trust web-site.  

Funding for project to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying announced
The Sex Education Forum at NCB has been awarded (24 March 2015) government funding to train teachers to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying in schools and will be training teachers to address HBT bullying through the SRE and PSHE curriculum.

SRE and PSHE should be statutory - says Committee report 
The Education Select Committee inquiry into PSHE and SRE has published its report (17 February 2015) and recommends that the subject is made statutory in primary and secondary schools. 

Research finds sexual coercion is widespread for teenage girls
New research (published 11 February 2015) from NSPCC shows just how widespread experiences of relationship abuse are for young people and the disproportionate impact on girls and young women. See our comment and links to the research. 

90% of students back call for statutory SRE
A new survey from the National Union of Students (NUS) has found that 90% of students want legislation to be changed to make SRE statutory. The NUS survey of 2,500 students also highlights the gaps in current teaching, which means many young people leave school having learnt nothing about consent. See campaign updates


2014

Parents support SRE at primary school - poll finds
The overwhelming majority of parents want important aspects of sex and relationships education (SRE) to be taught in primary schools, according to a new survey published 19 November 2014 by the Sex Education Forum.

STIs, HIV and AIDS included in new science curriculum for secondary schools
We welcome the addition of STIs, including HIV and AIDS to the revised draft National Curriculum for science (Key Stage 4) in secondary schools, (published by DfE on 30 September 2014) but warn that learning about STIs must not be left to the final years of secondary school.

Help is available to get your school policy on sex and relationships education up to speed
The Sex Education Forum has today published new guidance advising how parents, teachers and pupils can be involved in the process of reviewing and updating their school’s sex and relationships education (SRE) policy.

Education Select Committee Inquiry into PSHE and SRE in schools - Evidence
Written evidence submissions to the Education Select Committee Inquiry into whether PSHE ought to be statutory have been published on the Parliament web-site (July 2014), including a submission from the Sex Education Forum.

High time to guarantee that every child will learn how to recognise inappropriate sexual contact
With the publication of the full report of the Savile inquiry and the recent trial of Rolf Harris reaching a verdict the Sex Education Forum is calling for commitment from all political parties to make sex and relationships education (SRE) statutory in order to help prevent cases of sexual abuse of children (2 July 2014).

'SRE - It's my right' campaign for statutory sex and relationships education
The Sex Education Forum has launched a new campaign (6 June 2014) calling for statutory SRE as part of an entitlement to PSHE. We have published findings from a survey that suggests teachers are inadequately trained to teach the subject and we are calling on our supporters to email their MP or sign a petition to call for this legislative change.

Charities welcome Inquiry into the quality of PSHE and SRE
The National Children’s Bureau and the Sex Education Forum have welcomed the announcement (23 April 2014) that there will be a national inquiry into PSHE and SRE in schools. The Education Select Committee Inquiry will ask whether PSHE ought to be a statutory part of the curriculum and investigate the quality of teaching of SRE – including in primary schools and academies.

Science GCSE leaves learning about sexual health too late
We welcome the sexual health content in the new GCSE science (published 9 April 2014) which contains details on subjects which are vital learning for every young person including: hormones, contraception, fertility, HIV and AIDS and other STIs. However, we urge schools to follow best practice and teach about sexual health well before GCSE.

A missed opportunity
Brook, the PSHE Association and the Sex Education Forum respond to Government Safeguarding Guidance for Schools (4 April 2014).

SRE supplementary advice publication 
Brook, the PSHE Association and Sex Education Forum have collaborated on the production of the new advice on SRE for the 21st Century (published 28 February 2014), which provides information to teachers on topics that are missing from current Government Guidance published in 2000.  

SRE amendments to the Children and Families Bill
Amendments to the Children & Families Bill that relate to SRE go to the Lords for the report stage reading on 28 January 2014. The Sex Education Forum is supporting the amendments calling for a full update of the government SRE guidance and changes to legislation that would make SRE statutory in all state-funded schools.

SRE supplementary advice announcement
The Sex Education Forum is pleased to announce (16 January 2014) that we are working with Brook and the PSHE Association to jointly produce advice aimed at helping schools to bring their sex and relationships education (SRE) into the 21st Century. Our new advice will supplement the government's existing statutory guidance on the subject.

The Consent Issue 
Findings from our survey with 890 young people show that 3 in 10 had not learnt about consent at school. To coincide with publication of the findings we have produced an e-magazine for schools, The Consent Issue, which provides practical tips and ideas about how to integrate teaching about consent in a planned programme of sex and relationships education across all Key Stages. 


2013

SRE found to be vital
Research published 25/26 November 2013 from NATSAL and the Office of the Children's Commissioner provides yet more evidence that high-quality sex and relationships education (SRE) is a vital ingredient in the health and well-being of the nation. The NATSAL survey confirms the positive link between school sex education and decreased likelihood of unplanned pregnancy. However, the Office of the Children's Commissioner inquiry about child sexual exploitation shows this is no time for complacency. With the evidence so clear, the Sex Education Forum is calling for a guarantee that children and young people get a consistent level of learning about sex and relationships."

Advice on 'sexting' is welcome
Welcoming a new partnership announced betweeen Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation (17 October 2013) Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum said: "up-to-date advice for teachers on sex and relationships education would help schools play a larger part in supporting pupils to understand the risks of sexting and get help if they need it".

Mixed messages about sex education in new National Curriculum 
The new National Curriculum (from 2014) published 11 September 2013 presents a confusing picture about sex education. While puberty is clearly included in science, teachers are discouraged from explaining ‘how reproduction occurs’ and about hormones. We remain committed to helping schools provide the best education about growing up, sex and sexual health that they can.

Better sex education needed now!
Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum is one of 69 experts signing the leading letter in the Daily Telegraph (4 September 2013) calling on the government to update their sex and relationships education guidance for schools. Read the letter and full list of signatories, including 4 teaching unions and our response as the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister join the campaign.

Government leadership needed to drive up SRE standards
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has published findings  
showing that several schools have sex and relationships education (SRE) policies that echo or replicate Section 28 by prohibiting  the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. The Sex Education Forum believe schools need a clear message from government that SRE is a requirement for all schools and that high standards must be met. Read our statement (20 August 2013).

Response to National Curriculum review: final draft proposals
In our response  (published 6 August) we re-state our belief that the revised National Curriculum must ensure that ALL children and young people are entitled to a comprehensive and developmental programme of sex education through science. The current proposals fail to do this and ignore recommendations made repeatedly by experts from health, education and children's organisation.

Naming body parts in primary school
A letter published in The Daily Telegraph (19 July 2013) entitled 'Naming of parts' urges the government "to make it clear that primary schools should teach the correct names for genitalia and safeguard children by unambiguously including the essentials of sex education in the science curriculum". The signatories include Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum.

'Mythbusters' about the issue of pornography in SRE.
Recently, there has been a lot of media interest in SRE, particularly around tackling issues like pornography. The Sex Education Forum welcomes much of this media attention as a necessary part of raising public awareness. However, sometimes we see articles that, frankly, have presented incorrect information. What follows are a few 'myth busters' to set the record straight.

SRE gets attention in new National Curriculum
A final draft of the National Curriculum has been issued by the Department for Education (July 2013). Puberty has been included in Year 5 of the programme of study for science, but there are crucial omissions relating to learning about the body and sexual health.  

Educate children about their bodies and boundaries
The Sex Education Forum welcome the NSPCC 'Underwear rule' campaign (launched 8 July 2013)  which clearly spells out the vital role of parents, carers and schools in talking to children about their bodies so they are able to recognise and talk about any inappropriate sexual contact by others.

Computing classes not the place to learn about consent
A debate in the House of Lords (18 June 2013) has raised questions about the teaching of responsible use of the internet and social media in schools. The Sex Education Forum fully supports teaching internet safety in primary and secondary schools. However, we believe sex and relationships education (SRE) - not computing - is the right place to learn about consent, gender, body image and relationships - themes that are central to discussion about pornography. Read our statement.

Coalition for consent: campaign for statutory SRE
On 11 June MPs voted on an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that could have make Personal, Social and Health Education, including SRE, part of the statutory curriculum in England.  Read our briefing and the full text of the amendment  , which proposes that PSHE be defined as including  'sex and relationship education, including information about same-sex relationships, sexual violence, domestic violence and sexual consent'.

Sex and relationships education can help protect children from pornography.   
The Sex Education Forum welcomes a new report from the Children's Commissioner ("Basically... porn is everywhere" - A Rapid Evidence Assessment on the Effects that Access and Exposure to Pornography has on Children and Young People) urging government to send a clear message to schools that they must teach SRE that is relevant to young people's lives, including teaching about internet safety and potential exposure to pornography. 24 May 2013.

Sex Education letter in the Times: the concerns of 100 organisations
In a letter to the Times (12 April 2013), from the Sex Education Forum and signed by over 100 organisations and individuals, the government is urged not to water down compulsory sex education in the science curriculum.

Don't take Sex Ed back to the 1950s! Email your MP
The Sex Education Forum is campaigning to urge the governement to rethink the science curriculum proposals. Please email your MP asking them to help stop these changes and support inclusion of the essentials of sex education in the science curriculum. It is really simple to do as you can use the template letter provided.

Sex Education Forum response to National Curriculum consultation
We urge that the National Curriculum gives clear direction to schools to teach pupils about growing up and sex with honesty and confidence. The science curriculum must adopt clear open language and a positive tone for content relating to human reproduction, growth and sexual health. 25 March 2013

PSHE Review Outcome announced
We believe the Review Outcome (published 21 March 2013) does not go far enough. More action to improve SRE is essential, with relationships and sex education topping the list of subjects that respondents to the Review thought should be made statutory. Read our press release.   

Response to government Framework for Sexual Health Improvement
The Sex Education Forum welcomes the publication of the government's strategy for improving sexual health and its focus on preventative measures, such as good quality sex and relationships education (SRE). 15 March 2013.

Welsh government consultation on legislation to end violence against women and domestic abuse.The Sex Education Forum have responded to this consultation warmly welcoming the proposal to make education about 'healthy relationships' compulsory in all schools. We believe the Welsh government has an incredible opportunity to show international leadership in this regard. February 2013.

Scottish Government Teenage Pregnancy Inquiry.The Sex Education Forum have submitted evidence to this Inquiry highlighting the evidence that SRE works, the benefits of making SRE a statutory subject in all schools, the importance of involving parents and the need for educators to be adequately trained. February 2013. 

Protecting future generations from violence against women and girls. The Sex Education Forum have produced a briefing for Parliamentarians to inform the 14 Feb 2013 backbench debate about preventing violence against women and girls. This debate coincides with the One Billion Rising day of action. 

 

2012

SEF responded (Thursday 20 December 2012) to the Cross Party Inquiry into Unplanned Pregnancy report, that calls for Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) to be made statutory. The  report also calls for the need for statutory SRE training for teachers, educating the importance of consent and protecting young people from exploitation. SEF welcomes these recommendations, these are what SEF has been calling for, for many years. 

SEF response to the call for evidence to support HPV immunization programme review HPV (November 2012)
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) called for evidence to support a review of possible modifications to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme. The programme currently provides the offer of immunisation routinely to girls aged 12 to 13 years.

Sex Education Forum celebrates it's 25th birthday with an online campaign - Sex Ed Matters.    
For twelve months through blogs, Facebook and Twitter SEF will be raising their profile and reaching a wider audience to tell everyone why Sex Ed Matters, the work that SEF promotes and what SEF has achieved over the 25 years. 

Joint briefing for the 2nd Reading of the Relationship, Drug and Alcohol Education Bill from NCB and the Sex Education Forum
(November 2012) SEF submitted a joint briefing with the National Children's Bureau in support of the 2nd Reading of the Private Members Bill on the 9thNovember. This Bill is now expected to have its second reading debate on 1 March 2013. This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 October 2012 under the Ten Minute Rule.

Written evidence submitted by SEF to the Unwanted Pregnancy Inquiry 

(September 2012) SEF was invited to submit evidence to the Cross Party Unwanted Pregnancy Inquiry   launched by Conservation MP; Amber Rudd.

Sex Education Forum response to the consultation on the DRAFT Programmes of Study for Key Stages 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum Science (September 2012). SEF's response recommends that the Government:

  • ensures that the relationships aspects of SRE, which are not part of the science programme, are included in PSHE education when the outcome of the PSHE Review is published; and
  • publishes updated SRE Guidelines for schools without delay.

Statement on Sex Education (Required Content) Bill (January 2012)On 20th  January 2012, Nadine Dorries MP's proposed Sex Education (Required Content) Bill was due to have its  'second reading' in the House of Commons. The Bill was withdrawn before the debate began - we will provide further information about this as soon as we have it. This Bill sought to secure abstinence education for girls aged 13 to 16.


2011

Survey finds 1 in 4 young people don't learn about HIV at school 
This stark finding comes from a new survey of 800+ young people carried out by the Sex Education Forum. 

Review of the National Curriculum in England
On 20 January 2011 the Secretary of State for Education announced a review of the National Curruculum in England. The review will look at the National Curriculum for both primary and secondary schools and does not include SRE. However, it does state that 'the Government recognises good PSHE education supports individual young people to make safe and informed choices but that often schools need more support and help in the way they cover the important topics dealt with within PSHE education, including sex and relationships education'. The Government will be conducting a separate internal review to consider how to improve the quality of PSHE teaching.

Sex Education Forum Response to PSHEe Review 2011
SEF   response  to the Coalition govermnet's internal review of PSHE education which was launched in July 2011 and closed at the end of November 2011.

Response to Nadine Dorries Sex Education 10 Minute Rule Bill  (May 2011)

The Sex Education Forum have issued a response to the Sex Education Required Content Bill presented by Nadine Dorries MP on 4 May 2011.

Response to new report from the Christian Institute (March 2011)

report from the Christian Institute, released on 9 March 2011, claims that 'sex education materials are being pushed by public bodies for use in schools with children as young as five'. The Forum has issued a response to the report.

Current status of SRE (March 2011) [PDF 276KB]
This  briefing clarifies the situation with regard to SRE in schools, and summarises the curriculum requirements and legislation. New sections deal with the position of Academies, and relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

Sex and Relationships Education Bill: 2nd Reading (February 2011) [PDF 301KB]
Joint briefing from SEF and NCB, for the second reading in the House of Commons of the Ten Minute Rule Bill introduced by Chris Bryant MP.

Education Bill: entitlement to Sex and Relationships Education(February 2011) [PDF 158KB]
SEF briefing for the second reading in the House of Commons of the Education Bill.


2010

Teenage Pregnancy: Past successes - future challenges (December 2010)
Teenage Pregnancy: Past sucesses - future challenges is the final report from the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG) which for 10 years advised Ministers on reducing teenage pregnancy and improving support for teenage parents. In the report, TPIAG urges government 'to work with young people, parents, school governors and professionals to produce revised SRE guidance urgently and ensure all children and young people receive their entitlement' and warns government that 'teenage pregnancy rates will rise again unless there is sustained commitment and investment in contraceptive services, along with better sex and relationships education'.

'The Importance of Teaching' (November 2010)
The Education White Paper 'The Importance of Teaching' published on 24 November 2010 states that children need high-quality sex and relationships education so they can make wise and informed choices. The government promises to work with teachers, parents, faith groups and campaign groups to improve SRE.

Children, Schools and Families Bill (April 2010)
The Children, Schools and Families Bill was given Royal Assent on 8 April 2010 - thus making it an Act. The clauses relating to PSHE and SRE were dropped from the Bill. To read the transcripts of the debates and the final version of the Act go to the Parliament website. The Sex Education Forum have developed a SRE briefing for Parliamentarians which is free to download [PDF 160KB]

New Sex and Relationships Education Guidance-Consulation Document (January 2010)
The Sex Education Forum welcomes this much needed guidance on SRE, and encourages all those involved in delivering SRE in schools to get involved in the consultation, which will run until Monday 19 April. The results of the consultation will be available on the DCSF website later this year.

Sex and Relationships Education Bill (September 2010) [PDF 158KB]
Joint briefing from SEF and NCB, on the Ten Minute Rule Bill introduced by Chris Bryant MP and debated on 8 September 2010.

SEF welcomes The Importance of Teaching: Schools White Paper (November 2010)    

The Education White Paper 'The Importance of Teaching' published on 24 November 2010 states that children need high-quality sex and relationships education so they can make wise and informed choices. The government promises to work with teachers, parents, faith groups and campaign groups to improve SRE.


2009

SRE briefing for Parliamentarians (December 2009) [PDF 160KB]
Background briefing designed to inform the consideration of the Children, Schoools and Families Bill by MPs and peers.

Forum welcomes McDonald Review (April 2009)
Sir Alasdair Macdonald's advice that Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE education) should be made part of the compulsory school curriculum. This will ensure that all children and young people will grow up learning crucial information to support their health and well-being. This announcement is the next step in ensuring young people's entitlement to good quality sex and relationships education.

 

2008

SRE Review report published - PSHE to become statutory (October 2008)
The government has announced that PSHE, including SRE, will become a statutory part of the curriculum for Key Stages 1 to 4 in England. The move comes in response to the SRE Review, and the report from the Advisory Group on Drug and Alcohol Education.

Review of sex education strategy  (February 2008)
The coordinator of the Sex Education Forum has been invited to join the steering group for the government review of SRE.

SRE Audit Toolkit now available (March 2008)
A new resource from the Forum will help schools to find out what young people think of their SRE lessons and their suggestions for improvements.

Call for EU to fund sexuality education in the South  (February 2008)
A coalition of European health and sexuality groups met with MEPs to argue for resources for comprehensive sexuality education in the South.

 

2007

Forum Supports UKYP Campaign  (February 2007)
The UK Youth Parliament has launched a campaign for statutory SRE, based on research on what young people think of their experiences of SRE.

 

2006

Beyond Biology Campaign Launch (May 2006)
Sex and Relationships Education must go beyond biology, says Sex Education Forum.

Response to Government internal PSHE review

The Government's internal review of PSHE has now closed.  Read the Forum's response to the consultation.

 

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