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Sex Education

Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

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If he will undertake a review of the publications that will be eligible for use in sex education in schools should section 28 be repealed; and if he will make a statement. [108253]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills
(Mr. Stephen Twigg)

Head teachers and governors make decisions about materials that are used in schools. They must ensure that materials used for sex education are in accordance with the personal, social and health education framework and the law, and that inappropriate materials are kept out of the classroom. Legally, section 28 has no bearing on what is taught in schools, so a review of publications is unnecessary.

The Minister will, I am sure, be aware of the nature of some of the publications in circulation, which contain a lot of lurid information that will do nothing to deter pupils from becoming sexually active before they are physically or emotionally mature. Parents, governors and teachers in my constituency would welcome being involved in a review of the appropriateness of any publications that may become available in schools should section 28 be repealed.

Such matters are best left to the school and to the professional judgment of teachers in conjunction with governors—who, of course, have a duty in law to consult parents. It is very important that parents be consulted by schools when sex education policies are being considered. I do not believe that there is widespread evidence of the sort of abuse that the hon. Lady has described, although I am always willing to look into it. However, the framework that we put in place through the Learning and Skills Act 2000 provides a robust basis for the right kind of sex and relationships education for our children in schools.