APCC Chair responds to the Government’s decision to vote against an amendment which would have put the compulsory teaching of sex education on a statutory footing.
Dame Vera Baird QC said:
“It is disappointing that the Government has not taken this opportunity to support an amendment that would have ensured that all pupils receive appropriate sex and relationships education.
“Whilst the Government indicated that it will, at a later stage in the Bill, set out of how it intends to secure provision that it considers fit for purpose, there was no commitment to putting the teaching of sex and relationships education in schools on a statutory footing. We know that children are at risk and the Government must act as a matter of urgency.
“This issue has been debated over a number of years with both the current and previous Governments looking into legislative options. This Government has a real opportunity to take action now to protect children by introducing this vital safeguarding measure.
“We know that sexting and sexual bullying have been on the rise for some time now and we need clear messages for young people – what is acceptable in relationships and what is not. Sex and relationships education is about helping them make informed choices and learning to respect themselves as well as others.
“Educating young people about these issues must no longer be left to chance or to the individual discretion of school governors – it’s every child’s right”
“Recent research by Barnardo’s has indicated that three quarters of 11-15-year-olds questioned, said that they would feel safer if their lessons covered sex and online relationships. Meanwhile, a review on Sexual Harassment & Sexual Violence in Schools conducted by the Women and Equalities Select Committee, found that there is widespread support for Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) being made compulsory, in order to reduce rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools.
“Police and Crime Commissioners will work with the Government in any way they can to make sure that the compulsory teaching of sex and relationships education in schools is put on a statutory footing.”
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