Call For Evidence
The UK government announced a “call for evidence” in order to coordinate what needs to be taught to students in 2019 when this subject is officially instated as compulsory across all schools.
Parliament held a vote this year to make it compulsory for schools to educate students on relationships starting at age four, in addition to teaching sex education to all students age 11 and up.
Until this point, schools under local authority were required to teach the subject in line with the national curriculum, however starting September 2019, this will be compulsory for all academies in the country.
Due to student’s increased activity on the internet, Ministers will be providing guidance on the new curriculum’s content to include subjects such as sexting, pornography, as well as how to stay safe whilst online. These matters have not been renewed since the year 2000.
Justine Greening, education secretary, has issued the call for evidence in which the public can input their advice, particularly looking to hear from parents, teachers, and the youth.
This exercise will last eight weeks and hopes to establish a wider understanding of what educators feel should be taught to their students in order to help “navigate the modern world they are growing up in”.
This will in turn explore what material parents expect will be taught to their children regarding the subject of relationships and sex through a “safe and age-appropriate way”, in addition to understanding what students aim to understand as well as any current online risks of concern.
Greening expressed that “It is unacceptable that relationships and sex education guidance has not been updated for almost 20 years especially given the online risks such as sexting and cyber-bullying our children and young people face”.
She also explained that, “Young people must have an education that teaches them the importance of healthy and stable relationships. This call for evidence is about giving teachers, parents and especially young people a chance to help shape that new approach and I’d urge them to take part.”
The National Education Union, representing over 450,000 teachers, staff, and school leaders, has welcomed this call for evidence.
One concern however, expressed by Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the union, is that an effective sex and relationship curriculum will certainly require an investment towards training of teachers expected to deliver the subject.
In her statement, Bousted stated that, “[The government] also needs to ensure schools have high-quality resources and enough time in the school curriculum to teach sex and relationships education”. In addition, students need to be properly introduced to topics such as puberty, menstruation, gender equality, as well as include LGBT awareness and support.