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Sex and Relationships Education Steering Group

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of each piece of written evidence that has been presented to the Sex and Relationships Education Steering Group; and if he will make a statement; (245205)

(2) if he will place in the Library a copy of each piece of research which has been commissioned by the Sex and Relationship Education Steering Group; what the cost was of each; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how much has been spent by the Sex and Relationships Education Steering Group in each year since its establishment; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) officials in his Department have had since January 2008 with the Roman Catholic church on material disseminated by his Department to Catholic schools on sex and relationship education; what views the Catholic church put forward in those discussions; and if he will make a statement.

The Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) steering group was established in March 2008 and had its final meeting in October 2008, at which it signed-off its report and recommendations to Government. Steering group members were reimbursed travelling expenses, but were not paid a fee for participating in the review.

To inform its consideration of the issues, the steering group commissioned:

Two on-line surveys: one seeking young people’s views on the SRE they had received at school; and the other seeking teachers’ views on what was preventing more effective delivery of SRE. The young-people survey was supplemented with a residential event with a small group of UK Youth Parliament members to discuss issues in more detail. The administration of the surveys, the analysis of the results and facilitation of the residential event were undertaken by the Sex Education Forum, which was paid £13,625 to carry out this work; and

Two literature reviews: one which reviewed the existing evidence on parents’ views on SRE; and one which reviewed the international evidence on the impact of SRE. These reviews were carried out free of charge by Professor Roger Ingham, from the Centre for Sexual Health Research, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, who was a member of the SRE review steering group.

The total cost of the review was £18,630.

Presentations were made to the steering group, summarising the key findings of the on-line surveys and literature reviews. A copy of each presentation will be placed in the House of Commons Library. In addition, a number of individuals and organisations submitted evidence to an ‘SRE Review’ e-mail account that was established to allow those who were unable to be accommodated on the steering group itself, to submit views. These submissions were circulated to the SRE review steering group for their consideration. Copies of these submissions will also be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Oona Stannard, Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Service was a member of the SRE Review steering group and was in full agreement with the group’s report and recommendations. Other than the SRE guidance published in 2000, and the non-statutory programmes of study for Personal Well-Being issued in 2007, the Government have not issued guidance to Catholic or other schools on SRE delivery. The resources that schools use to support delivery of their SRE programmes are determined by each individual school.

The Government published their response to the report by the SRE review steering group on 23 October. A copy of both the group’s report and the Government response are available at: