I believe that personal social health and economic education, including age-appropriate sex and relationships education, should be a statutory subject in all state-funded schools.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee recently recommended that every child at primary and secondary school must have access to high quality, age-appropriate relationships and sex education delivered by well-trained individuals. The Committee stated that this can only be achieved by making sex and relationships education (SRE) a statutory subject; investing in teacher training; and investing in local third sector specialist support.

While the Government’s former Education Secretary refused to make sex and relationships education statutory, I understand the new Education Secretary (Justine Greening) is considering the Department for Education’s position on sex education. I know the Department are looking at options to raise the quality of personal, social and health education (PSHE) teaching.

More should be done to drive up standards in the subject, with a new generation of PSHE leaders in every school to share best practice and ensure that all children have the information and knowledge they need to stay healthy and safe.

I believe as well as being a statutory subject, the programme of study should reflect the challenges young people face today, including new guidance, updated to reflect new media and the passage of legislation such as the same-sex marriage act. There should be flexibility for schools to deal with local issues so that they can properly address the issues most relevant to their pupils.

I fought the last election on a manifesto that included a commitment to introduce compulsory SRE in order to teach children about mutual respect and the importance of healthy relationships and look forward to opportunities to support getting SRE onto the statute book.

Published 05/10/16

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