By Lucy Emmerson, acting co-ordinator, Sex Education
Thursday 12 Febuary 2008
So sex and relationships education (SRE) is
finally going to be compulsory in schools. The government has
listened to the views of thousands of young people and reached the
decision that personal, social and health education (PSHE) - which
includes SRE - should be a statutory subject.
By having a collective voice, young people can and do change
national policy. Since schools minister Jim Knight's welcome
announcement, many professionals have felt renewed energy in
providing the good quality SRE they know helps young people to have
fulfilling relationships, stay safe and be healthy.
A PSHE review is under way, with a public consultation later
this year. Once the curriculum is agreed, schools have a year to
prepare, making September 2011 a likely start date for the
compulsory subject. In the meantime, there are some straightforward
steps schools can take.
Teachers can consult young people about the quality of existing
SRE. The Sex Education Forum (SEF) toolkit Are You Getting it
Right? includes activities to help young people reflect on their
SRE and ideas for improving it. For example, young people have said
they want more attention on emotions and relationship skills.
Head teachers can support teachers to get the training they
need, as this can help them overcome embarrassment, gain accurate
knowledge and learn effective skills to deliver high-quality SRE.
Now is the perfect time to encourage teachers to develop their
skills in PSHE. Schools can send staff on the national PSHE
Continuing Professional Development programme - now a degree-level
In 2008, a third of young people surveyed by SEF said their SRE
was either bad or very bad. By taking steps to improve it in 2009
we can usher in a decade where young people rate their SRE as good
or very good.