On Tuesday 11 June, New Clause 20 – which would have made personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, including sex and relationships education (SRE), statutory in state schools – was disappointingly defeated by 303 votes to 209.
This comes at a time when a recent study by Ofsted has said that more than a third of schools in England are failing to provide pupils with age-appropriate sex-and-relationships education and warn this could leave young people vulnerable.
The Ofsted report states “The failure to include discussion of pornography is concerning as research shows that children as young as nine are increasingly accessing pornographic internet sites, and Child Line counsellors have confirmed an increase to more than 50 calls a month from teenagers upset by pornography.”
Teachers have also shared their concerns about the negative impact of increasing access to pornography and feel they need further help and training in teaching these sensitive and controversial issues. Pupils themselves state that SRE is often too little, too late and too biological.
We are living in a world where young people have increasing access to the internet on smart phones and computer tablets and internet enabled television. The danger is – if no one else is going to talk to them about sex and relationships where else are they going to turn than the internet, leaving themselves vulnerable to inappropriate sexual behaviours, sexual exploitation and negative body images.
Young people spend a lot of time thinking about relationships. Teens in unhealthy relationships often face pressure to do things they do not want to do, including sex. We have recently finished a sex and relationship drama workshop project based around healthy relationships, negotiating sexual behaviour and coping with peer pressure. If you would like us to come into your school to work on this vital issue please get in touch.