UN calls for mandatory SRE

UN calls for introduction of mandatory SRE in the UK, while updated Government safeguarding guidance falls short 

Statement published 13 June 2016


Responding to the UN’s verdict on the UK’s child rights record the Sex Education Forum welcomes the recommendation that the Government ‘ensure that meaningful sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum for all schools’. 

Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum said:

“This adds further weight to the recommendation from the Education Select Committee that sex and relationships education (SRE) becomes statutory in all primary and secondary schools. Both Committees recognise that this measure would protect children and young people and help prevent sexual abuse and exploitation. With national and international calls for this simple update to legislation we call on Government to include a requirement for SRE as part of the forthcoming Education for All Bill.”

This follows just a few days after the Government published updated safeguarding guidance, stating that “Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure children are taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities”, and that this may include covering issues through SRE.

Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum said:

“While the Sex Education Forum welcomes the stronger emphasis on teaching about safeguarding in the updated guidance, the Government has once again missed an opportunity to guarantee that all children learn vital information about sex and relationships which would protect their wellbeing and safety. We challenge Ministers to  justify a situation that leaves the provision of SRE as an option, when the benefits for children are clearly evidenced and the UN and our own Education Select Committee recommend that it be mandatory.”

 

Further information about the UN recommendation 

The UN recommendation appears in the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (June 2016). The full recommendation is as follows: 

'The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that meaningful sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum for all schools, including academies, special schools and youth detention centres, in all areas of the State party. Such education should provide age-appropriate information on: confidential sexual and reproductive health-care services; contraceptives; prevention of sexual abuse or exploitation, including sexual bullying; available support in cases of such abuse and exploitation; and sexuality, including that of LGBT children’.


Further information about the updated Government safeguarding guidance 

The Government's statutory safeguarding guidance for schools: 'Keeping children safe in education; statutory guidance for schools and colleges' has been updated (May 2016) and will commence from 5 September 2016.  Under 'Opportunities to teach safeguarding' the guidance states that: 

'Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure children are taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities, as part of providing a broad and balanced curriculum. This may include covering relevant issues through personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), tutorials (in FE colleges) and/or – for maintained schools and colleges – through sex and relationship education (SRE).'

 

About the Sex Education Forum

The Sex Education Forum is the national authority on sex and relationships education (SRE). We believe that good quality SRE is an entitlement for all children and young people and we are working with our core members, who all support statutory SRE and include local authorities, children’s, religious, health and family organisations, to achieve this. The Sex Education Forum is based at the National Children’s Bureau (NCB). For further information visit: www.sexeducationforum.org.uk     

For media enquiries please contact the National Children's Bureau's media office on 0207 843 6045 / 47 or email media@ncb.org.uk