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Education Select Committee Report

17 February 2015

Education Select Committee inquiry recommends statutory SRE and PSHE

The Sex Education Forum welcomes the recommendation from the Education Select Committee report that PSHE and SRE should be given statutory status. The inquiry has taken on board the overwhelming support from young people, parents and teachers for a change to legislation and acknowledged the rights of children and young people to information that keeps them safe and well.

In their report, published on 17 February 2015, the Committee conclude:

“We accept the argument that statutory status is needed for PSHE, with sex and relationships education as a core part of it. We recommend that the DfE develop a workplan for introducing age-appropriate PSHE and SRE as statutory subjects in primary and secondary schools, setting out its strategy for improving the supply of teachers able to deliver this subject and a timetable for achieving this.”

Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Education Forum said:

“We hope that the government will accept these recommendations and begin preparing for the introduction of age-appropriate, statutory SRE and PSHE in all schools. Teachers and school leaders will need support – to ensure that they have the competence to teach good quality SRE and the confidence to lead more detailed conversations with parents about the subject. 

What we need now are manifesto commitments from all political parties that they will make SRE statutory as part of an entitlement to PSHE education. There is no argument to justify a continuation of the neglect this subject has suffered. The consequences for children of with-holding education are clear .”

Other key recommendations from the report include:

  • That the Government formally endorses and issues the 2014 advice produced by the voluntary sector, and promotes this advice more actively to schools and governors.
  • That the Government monitors schools’ compliance with the requirement to publish information about their PSHE and SRE curriculum on their websites.
  • That the DfE restores  funding for the National PSHE CPD programme, with the aim of ensuring that all primary and secondary schools have at least one teacher who has received specialist training in PSHE, and monitor progress towards this.
  • That all schools be required to run a regular consultation with parents on the school’s SRE provision, in a way that allows all parents to participate.
  • That Ofsted inspects schools’ engagement with parents on Sex and Relationships Education.
  • That Ofsted sets out clearly in the school inspection handbook the way in which a school’s PSHE provision relates to Ofsted’s judgements on safeguarding and pupils’ “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development”.
  • That the Government commissions Ofsted to produce regular subject survey reports on the quality of PSHE and SRE.
  • That the DfE clarifies that children in primary schools should be taught the proper names for genitalia as part of the National Curriculum.
  • That the parental right to withdraw their children from elements of SRE should be retained.

The report can be accessed from the Parliament web-site.