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Health Education: Sex

Volume 493: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent assessment he has made of effects of sex and relationships education on rates of (a) pregnancy and (b) abortion in those under the age of (i) 16 and (ii) 18 years; and if he will make a statement. (276872)

The recent review of sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools reported that the provision of SRE was patchy and that many young people were not receiving the support they need to make safe and responsible choices about sex and relationships.

As a consequence, we have taken the decision, subject to public consultation, to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education (including SRE) statutory. This will raise the priority of PSHE education in schools and ensure a more consistent offer to all young people. In addition, we are taking action to address the key delivery challenges identified during the SRE review, which includes improving the skills and confidence of those who deliver PSHE.

Teenage pregnancy rates are influenced by a range of factors. Increased risk of teenage pregnancy is strongly associated with poverty and poor educational attainment.

In addition, teenage pregnancy rates are influenced by: the quality of SRE young people receive; their access to contraceptive and sexual health (CASH) advice services when they become sexually active; and the extent to which parents talk to their children about sex and relationships. International evidence, as well as evidence from local areas that have made most progress in reducing under-18 conception rates since the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was launched, shows that comprehensive, age-appropriate SRE, alongside easy access to CASH services, brings down rates.