Sex and relationship education must be taught in all maintained secondary schools; we believe that most secondary academies and many primary schools also teach it. Any school teaching SRE must have regard to the Secretary of State’s “Sex and Relationship Education Guidance”. The guidance makes it clear that all sex and relationship education should be age-appropriate, and that schools should ensure that young people develop positive values and a moral framework that will guide their decisions, judgments and behaviour.
Will the Minister consider that the ongoing revelations over child sexual exploitation, the explicit content on new technologies widely available to children, and the warnings of the deputy Children’s Commissioner and the Education Committee among others together make an overwhelming case for the urgent introduction of mandatory age-appropriate sex and relationship education, starting at primary school?
We are considering the report of the Education Committee very carefully and will respond to it in due course. We believe that all schools should teach personal, social, health and economic education and, within that, SRE. Indeed, the introduction to the new national curriculum makes that explicitly clear. What is important is not whether PSHE is statutory, but the quality of the teaching. That is our focus, and we are working with the PSHE Association and other expert bodies to ensure that teachers have the best resources to teach these very sensitive issues.