Sex education guidance still ‘woefully’ out of date in new curriculum
The new national curriculum still points to “woefully” out of date sex and relationship
teaching material despite David Cameron promising to bring it into the internet age.
David Cameron has admitted sex education needs to be updated to reflect the dangers of
Teenagers outline how he could help push through meaningful changes.
By Louisa Peacock, Deputy Women’s Editor
7:00AM BST 17 Sep 2013
The revised curriculum, published last week, referred secondary schools to the official sex and relationship
education guidance when teaching in this area. However, a huge number of groups including the NSPCC,
Mumsnet, Girl Guides and teachers’ unions have warned the current guidance is 13 years old and not fit for
purpose, which is hampering schools’ efforts to provide meaningful lessons to pupils.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister vowed to update sex and relationship education to bring it into the 21st
century and make sure teachers were equipped to talk to pupils about the “dangers” of the internet, following a
campaign for better sex education by Telegraph Wonder Women.
But charities working with children and young people are worried that the updated curriculum ignores attempts
to modernise teaching and sends “confusing” messages about what quality sex education looks like.
Lucy Emmerson, coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, which includes the National Children’s Bureau and
Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The combination of the 2000 SRE guidance and the very basic level of sex
education included in the new national curriculum leaves schools unclear about what constitutes a modern SRE
programme. Schools need fresh advice about how to provide the modern SRE that parents and children alike are
Jules Hillier, deputy chief executive of Brook, the young person’s charity, said: “Now the new national
curriculum has been published it is even more important we have SRE guidance that is up to date, written by
experts, and reflects the social and technological change we have had over the last 13 years.
“Young people have told us that SRE guidance and teaching needs to be relevant to today’s society, and it is
crucial that young people are central to development of the guidance and delivery of SRE.”
A poll by children’s charity NSPCC, commissioned by The Daily Telegraph, found seven in 10 young people
think porn should be talked about in the classroom, making current sex education guidance “woefully
inadequate” for the digital era.
But alongside the new curriculum, an official Department for Education document said: “When any school
provides SRE they must have regard to the Secretary of State’s guidance; this is a statutory duty.”
The Telegraph Wonder Women campaign to bring sex education into the 21st century has been supported by
groups and individuals including: the Girl Guides, Claire Perry – the Prime Minister’s children’s adviser, Tim
Loughton – the Conservative MP and former Children’s Minister, Dame Tessa Jowell – the Labour MP, Mumsnet,
Professor Tanya Byron, the largest teachers’ union – the National Union of Teachers, the National Association of
Headteachers, teachers’ union NASUWT, the Children’s Commissioner – Dr Maggie Atkinson, the PSHE
Association, the Sex Education Forum, and the Mother’s Union.
A petition calling for better sex education has been signed by over 30,000 people at
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