Compulsory sex ed in schools?

MPs call for Sex and Relationships education for all kids

School kids as young as 5 could get sex ed 'by the back door'

Primary schools and academies in England will be forced to teach sex education, with no right of withdrawal for parents, if a new proposal becomes law.

New Clause 5 (NC5), would create a national curriculum subject of ‘Relationships Education’, opening the door for lobby groups to push explicit material on kids as young as five.

It has been put forward by MPs David Burrowes and Maria Miller as part of the Children and Social Work Bill. It would apply to all state-funded schools.

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Sex education in the UK

It is initially a rather charming affair when John Taylor arrives in London in the 1936 sex education film, Trial for Marriage. However, things turn sour as he falls into a "fast crowd", including absinthe-drinking beauty, Hermione.

After contracting gonorrhea, although he is engaged to a "terribly nice girl", John falls into a dream sequence where he is standing trial at the Court of Public Opinion. In his defence, his lawyer pleads: "My client had no education in early years at home or school on the true meaning of sex in life!"

Eighty years later, this same plea could be used for young people in the UK.

Sex education is still falling behind. In a report published by the Terrence Higgins Trust last year, it found that half of young people rated the sex education they received in schools as "poor" or "terrible".

During the lessons, with most only taught once year, 75% of young people were not taught about consent. A 2013 survey in Scottish schools found that 27% of pupils thought that "no" sometimes means "yes".

One in seven young people were not taught sex education at all.

Sex education is compulsory in state schools. From the age of 14, pupils begin learning about sexually transmitted disease and practising safe sex.

Children under the age of 11 do not receive education beyond the basic biology outlined by the national curriculum.

According to an Ofsted report, there is too much emphasis placed on the "mechanics" of reproduction rather than the importance of healthy sexual relationships. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes, except in the case of reproduction taught in biology lessons.

Like John Taylor from the 1930s sex education film, young people in the UK still struggle to have education "on the true meaning of sex in life". Attitudes have changed since its release - about abortion, contraception and sexuality - but they are struggling to translate in the classroom.

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Valentine's Day Letter For Sex Education

Today, along with Mumsnet, Girlguiding, the Everyday Sexism Project and MPs from across the political spectrum, I co-signed a letter to the Education Secretary Justine Greening, calling on her to ". . .bring forward legislation that will help give young people the knowledge and skills to have respectful, healthy loving relationships throughout their lives. "

In light of school leaders reporting 'endemic levels' of sexting, and following on from the long-standing campaign for a PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) Bill, today's Valentine's Day letter calls for SRE (Sex and Relationships Education) to be an entitlement for all children.

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