In Brief

Sex education: what's being taught and when?

MPS argue primary school children should be taught about sex, but that parents should still be able to opt out

Sex education should be compulsory across all state primary schools in order to protect young children from abuse, a committee of MPs has urged.

"Young people have a right to information that will keep them safe," the Commons Education Committee chairman Graham Stuart told the BBC

The committee said that sex and relationship education forms an essential part of any school's "efforts to safeguard young people from abuse" and is crucial to protecting the most vulnerable children in society. 

The report said the subject's lack of statutory status meant that it was often sidelined, with teachers denied adequate training. The government has promised to consider the committee's findings.

What's currently being taught and when?
At state schools

Sex and relationship education (SRE) is currently compulsory in council-run secondary schools. It involves teaching students about reproduction, sexuality and sexual health. From the age of 14, pupils begin learning about sexually transmitted disease and practising safe sex.

At primary schools, children under the age of 11 do not receive education beyond the basic biology outlined by the national curriculum. 

At private schools, academies and free schools

Sex and relationship education is not compulsory at any level of education, as each school is free to opt out of the national curriculum. However, if they do choose to teach the subject, schools are required to follow government guidance.

Parents have the right to withdraw their children from any aspect of sex education lessons that do not fall under the statutory programme of study for science under the curriculum.

The committee agreed that this should continue to be protected by law. "Parents have rights, too." Stuart told The Guardian. "They must keep the right to withdraw their children if they are unhappy with what the school provides."

Recommended

Are Royal aides out to sink Meghan Markle - or is she really a ‘bully’?
Harry and Meghan Markle
Today’s big question

Are Royal aides out to sink Meghan Markle - or is she really a ‘bully’?

‘Never before have all the main engines of European integration caught fire simultaneously’
Angela Merkel and Ursula von der Leyen in the European Parliament
Instant Opinion

‘Never before have all the main engines of European integration caught fire simultaneously’

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?
Margaret Keenan becomes the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine
In Focus

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?

Five things we learned from Sturgeon’s testimony to Salmond inquiry
Nicola Sturgeon gives evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee
Why we’re talking about . . .

Five things we learned from Sturgeon’s testimony to Salmond inquiry

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 March 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 March 2021

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Are Harry and Meghan pushing it with their request for press privacy?
Harry and Meghan
The latest on . . .

Are Harry and Meghan pushing it with their request for press privacy?