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Relationship and sex education - reaction

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Yesterday, we announced that relationship and sex education will be made compulsory in all secondary schools, while all primary schools will be required to teach age appropriate relationships education.

This has been widely welcomed by a range of stakeholders.

Javed Khan, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, said:

We are thrilled the Government has listened to our campaign to provide all school children with age-appropriate school lessons on sex and healthy relationships to help keep them safe. Barnardo’s has long campaigned for this vital education so children can better understand the dangers in the real world and online. We believe this will give children the knowledge and skills they need to help prevent them being groomed and sexually exploited.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union the NAHT, said:

NAHT have long advocated age-appropriate sex education and PSHE for all pupils in all schools, to help prepare young people for the challenges they will encounter in their adult lives and the current challenges they will face beyond the school gates. We welcome the duties set out today and look forward to playing our part in ensuring SRE/PSHE delivers for young people.

Girl Guiding's Young Advocate Panel said:

We’re really pleased to see Justine Greening’s announcement today that she’ll be taking steps to make SRE statutory. Since our Girls Matter campaign in 2014, we’ve called on the Government to introduce high quality compulsory Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) in all schools. Our Girls’ Attitudes Survey shows three quarters of girls (74%) aged 11 to 21 want SRE to be taught in school.


Today we feel like we’re being listened to. Introducing compulsory, high quality SRE, to include consent, tackling violence against women and girls, online abuse, gender equality and LGBTQ and healthy relationships, must become a reality - it will give young people the tools and knowledge we desperately need to support us throughout our lives, to keep safe and be able to make informed decisions. We think this will make a significant difference for all young people and we look forward to hearing more details.

Sarah Green, Co-Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:

This is a real step forward in ending violence against women and girls and we commend the Government for listening to experts and responding. It opens the door to high quality relationships and sex education that will let young people have the essential conversations about consent, respect and LGBT equality.


Quality RSE is a chance to talk with young people about how men and women treat each other, and to challenge the attitudes which minimise or make excuses for abuse of women and girls. It is a chance to emphasise such violence is always unacceptable, whether on our streets or in our schools.

Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

We support the introduction of statutory relationships and sex education in secondary schools and age-appropriate relationships education in primary schools. ASCL Council, our policy-making body, recently discussed this matter and also resolved that Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education should be statutory.


Children and young people are faced with an extraordinary range of social pressures and, while the vast majority of schools already provide relationships and sex education as part of their PSHE programmes, it is important to ensure this provision is universally available.

Helen Marshall, chief executive officer of sexual-health charity Brook, said:

We’re absolutely thrilled to witness this change in policy today. SRE is essential to help drive positive sexual-health messages, and to provide young people with the skills and confidence to explore healthy relationships and sexuality.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, Chairman of the Catholic Education Service said:

Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) forms part of the mission of Catholic schools to educate the whole person. Our schools have a long track record of educating young people who are prepared for adult life as informed and engaged members of society, and high quality RSE plays an important part of this.


We welcome the Government’s commitment to improving Relationship and Sex Education in all schools. Catholic schools already teach age-appropriate Relationship and Sex Education in both primary and secondary schools.


We additionally welcome the Government’s commitment to protect parental right of withdrawal and involve parents in all stages of the development and delivery of RSE in all schools. It is essential that parents fully support the school’s approach to these sensitive matters.


The experience of Catholic schools is that parental involvement is the basis for providing consistent and high quality RSE at home and at school. We look forward to working closely with the Government to shape any new guidance to enable Catholic schools to continue to deliver outstanding RSE, in accordance with parents’ wishes and Church teaching.

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the education select committee, said:

I welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement, which follows several years of campaigning both in and outside of Parliament by many organisations and individuals. I am glad to have been part of that campaign along with fellow select committee Chairs. The Education Committee will look carefully at the Policy Statement and consider the detail of the Government’s proposals

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, said:

After many years of campaigning, we are delighted that young people will now receive the information they need to understand abuse, respect others, and navigate healthy relationships.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, said:

We believe that making SRE compulsory in all secondary schools, not just council-maintained ones, could make a real difference in reversing this trend, by preparing pupils for adulthood and enabling them to better take care of themselves and future partners.

Stonewall Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, said:

This is a huge step forward and a fantastic opportunity to improve inclusion and acceptance in education. This should mean that all schools provide the space to discuss LGBT relationships and the issues LGBT people face, enabling more lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people to feel accepted in their school environment.


We look forward to working with the Government on updating the guidance for schools to ensure that this measure helps to transform the experience of LGBT young people in all schools.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

We strongly welcome the news that the Government is pledging to deliver statutory sex and relationships education across the UK.


Women’s Aid, along with a very large coalition of organisations, has been urgently calling for this for a number of years. We are delighted that action is finally being taken.


In order to prevent domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, we must examine and address its root causes, challenging the misogyny and sexism that underpin it.


We look forward to working with the Government to ensure this education is robust and of a high standard, and call for national oversight to ensure it is being delivered properly. We cannot let our young people down. They deserve this education and a safe, healthy future.

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