Sex education: too much emphasis on the mechanics, says Doortje Braeken, who argues for more teaching about sexuality. Photograph: David Levene (The Guardian)
Parents in Leicestershire have given the thumbs down to an MPs report which said sex and relationships education lessons should be compulsory in primary schools.
They gave their reactions after the Commons Education Committee said that “age appropriate” personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) should be taught.
But mums in Leicestershire have told the Mercury they thought primary school was too early for youngsters to be taught sex education.
At the moment primary schools do not have to provide sex and relationships education beyond basic biology.
Faiza Ismel, 32, a teacher from Highfields, said: “It’s often difficult and embarrassing for both the teacher and the children.
“Children should be taught about it at home first and then taught about it in secondary school.”
Nicky Gant a 28-year-old support worker from Syston, added: “Let kids be kids. We shouldn’t push it on them.
“They should keep their innocence.”
However, there was a different response to the report from a leading city teaching union official .
Peter Flack, assistant association secretary for the city of Leicester National Union of Teachers, said the principal of SRE being compulsory in primary schools was welcomed.
He said: “One of the problems is that this is portrayed as sex education.
“The emphasis on constructive, positive and sharing relationships is a good thing.
“This is about empathy and commitment and stressing strong and loyal relationships based on trust.
“The NUT very much welcomes anything which contributes to positive relationships.”
The city and county councils have both said their schools already provide a lot of support to youngsters regarding these subjects.
A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council said: “We welcome the report as sex and relationships education taught to a good quality can make a positive contribution towards developing the knowledge, understanding and values of young people.
“We already have a lot of support in place within Leicestershire through the healthy schools programme and Teenage Pregnancy Partnership.
“If the recommendations of the report are accepted by the Government, we’ll continue to support teachers and school leaders and give them the confidence to lead more detailed conversations with parents about the subject.”
A Leicester City Council spokesman said: “We are proud of our SRE policy which places the right emphasis on being safe and happy in a relationship as well as looking at staying safe on the internet or other media.
“We have a strong history in the city’s schools of high quality teaching in this area and this has also contributed to the significant reduction in teenage pregnancies.”
The Commons Education Committee launched its inquiry after inquiry was launched after Ofsted found more than a third of schools nationally were not providing age-appropriate SRE.
Commons Education Committee chairman Graham Stuart said: “Young people have a right to information that will keep them safe.”
Mr Stuart said: “SRE forms an important part of any school’s efforts to safeguard young people from abuse and is particularly needed to protect the most vulnerable children.
“PSHE builds character and resilience and will help young people to live happy and healthy lives.”
Nationally, the report has been welcome by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner of England.
Deputy Commissioner Sue Berelowitz said: “Once again we are calling for age-appropriate relationships and sex education to be made a statutory component of the curriculum.
“Young people need to understand what are and what are not healthy relationships.
Although the report was welcomed by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), it said that key questions still need to be answered.
Chris Keates, from the NASUWT, said: “We recognise the Select Committee is trying to address a difficult and contentious issue.
“However, there remain some key questions to be addressed.
“Who will determine what is age appropriate PSHE and SRE and what precisely should be taught?
“Will academies and free schools be required to implement such provision, given that they have freedom to determine their own curriculum?”
The union has also questioned who will provide the specialist support and training to provide the lessons.
She added: “Policymakers need to decide whether SRE is statutory and is treated as such in all schools, in which case parental opt-out cannot be retained.”
via Leicester Mercury
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