What parents should know about the new sex education proposals

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  • As of this week, a consultation on how we should approach sex and relationships education in schools will be taking place.

    The eight-week assessment will consider how we teach sex and relationship education in schools, and could end up dramatically changing the curriculum could forward.

    So, in light of the proposals, how will this affect you child?

    Why are the changes happening?

    The current sex and relationship education (SRE) guidelines are very much outdated, and have not been adjusted since 2000.

    In the current legislation, there is no mention of the nature of online abuse and sexual relations, including sexting and online porn, in the curriculum.

    Furthermore, there is no mention of LGBT relationships and identities within the guidelines.

    In a bit to update the outdated curriculum, Education Secretary Justine Greening said that not only will SRE be updated for modern times, but it will also become compulsory in schools.

    ‘The statutory guidance for sex and relationships education was introduced in 2000 and is becoming increasingly outdated,’ she stated.

    ‘It fails to address risks to children that have grown in prevalence over the last 17 years, including cyber bullying, ‘sexting’ and staying safe online.

    ‘Parents will continue to have a right to withdraw their children from sex education.

    ‘Schools will have flexibility over how they deliver these subjects, so they can develop an integrated approach that is sensitive to the needs of the local community; and, as now, faith schools will continue to be able to teach in accordance with the tenets of their faith.’

    What will be taught?

    In the new review, lessons looking at the impact of online porn, sexual violence, consent and healthy relationships will come to the forte.

    LGBT relationships and identities will also be included in lessons – at present, just 13% of LGBT people feel that they received an appropriate education at school.

    Staying safe online will also be brought into focus, with issues of revenge porn and online sexualities being more prevalent than ever.

    It looks like these lessons are needed now more than ever.

    The number of reported sexual offences by under-18s against other under-18s in England and Wales rose by 71% from 4,603 in 2013-14 to 7,866 in 2016-17.

    As well as this, surveys revealed that girls saw the act of boys slapping their bottoms and sharing naked pictures with boyfriends as normal.

    Will it be age appropriate?

    Each level of education offered will be age appropriate. Although SRE will be taught from the first year of primary school, the lessons will focus on relationships, also considering consent and appropriate touching.

    When will it go ahead?

    The eight-week consultation will be led by Ian Bauckham, who is head teacher of a large Church of England comprehensive school in Kent. He has been awarded a CBE for his services to education.

    ‘I hope that the call for evidence being launched now gives us the chance to find out about the best teaching and to improve provision for all our young people in all types of school,’ he said.

    The changes suggested by the review will be introduced by September 2019.