We don't need no Sex Education

Sunday 1 November, 10.45am until 12.15pm, Café

Sex education continues to be a controversial area of public policy. Jim Knight, the schools minister, now wants personal, social and health education (PSHE) to become a compulsory part of the syllabus for children from the age of five. Its aim is to support the development of ‘emotional literacy’ and ensure young people are better equipped ‘to navigate the complexities of modern life’. Consequently there will be an emphasis on teaching children to talk about personal relationships, and ‘outside professionals’ will be brought into schools to support this initiative. All this is on top of the existing programme of sex education that schools must deliver anyway, despite disagreements over its aims and usefulness.

Can sex education in schools address the various agendas inherent within it? What role should schools and parents play in socialising children in this regard? Are there areas of children’s lives where teachers should perhaps ‘leave those kids alone’?

Simon Blake
chief executive, Brook; chair, Compact Voice, the voluntary sector network

Dr Hera Cook
lecturer, modern history, University of Birmingham; author, The Long Sexual Revolution: English women, sex and contraception 1800-1975

Dr Jan Macvarish
associate lecturer and researcher, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, University of Kent; author, Neuroparenting: The Expert Invasion of Family Life

Professor David Paton
professor, industrial economics, Nottingham University Business School

Bríd Hehir
writer, researcher and traveller; retired nurse and fundraiser

Produced by
Bríd Hehir writer, researcher and traveller; retired nurse and fundraiser
Recommended readings
Sex education must not be statutory

As the government's consultation on making sex education compulsory draws to a close, the director of the Family Education Trust, argues that the move would seriously undermine the role of parents.

Norman Wells, Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2009

Unbiased sex education is a child's right

Allowing faith schools to skew the curriculum in order to argue against homosexuality and sex before marriage is a mistake

Andrew Copson, Guardian, 28 April 2009

Independent Review of the proposal to make PSHE education statutory

Most schools have a strong commitment and have also made a considerable investment in their current practice and model of delivery. The effectiveness of these different models need further evaluation, but we want schools to retain the flexibility to deliver PSHE education in a way that best meets the needs of their pupils, whilst promoting and spreading good practice.

Sir Alasdair Macdonald, Healthyschools.gov.uk, 1 April 2009

Teenage girls don't choose pregnancy

The success of Hackney and Blackburn's sex education scheme disproves the link between deprivation and teen mums.

Madeleine Bunting, Guardian, 26 February 2009

Stopping sex-crazed children from becoming teenage parents

A teacher writes from the classroom on her struggle to stop her sex-crazed young charges from becoming teenage parents like 13-year-old Alfie Patten

Kate Sawyer, Sunday Times, 22 February 2009

Government Response to the Report by the Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) Review Steering Group

'The implementation of the actions set out in this response will be an important factor in our efforts to promote all children and young people’s well-being and to maximise the contribution that schools make to helping children and young people achieve the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes.'

DCSF, 1 February 2008

Sex and Relationships Education Framework

The Sex and Relationships Education Framework is the core document of the Sex Education Forum. It is also for professionals who work with children and young people in all settings and who want to support the effective development of SRE policy and practice.

Sex Education Forum, November 2003

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