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RCOG statement on Education Committee report on PSHE and SRE

News 17 February 2015

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcomes the publication today of the Commons Education Committee report Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools.

The Committee found that the quality of sex and relationships education (SRE) across schools is weak even though there is strong demand for the subject to be taught. The Committee has proposed that Public, Social and Health Education (PSHE), in which SRE sits, is made a statutory subject in the national primary and secondary curriculum.

The report’s key recommendations are:

  • The Department for Education should develop a work plan for introducing age-appropriate PSHE and SRE as statutory subjects in primary and secondary schools.
  • All schools should be required to run a regular consultation with parents on the school’s SRE provision.
  • The parental right to withdraw their child from elements of SRE should be retained.
  • The Government should formally endorse and issue the SRE guidance produced by Brook, the Sex Education Forum and the PSHE Association. It should also promote this more actively to schools and governors.
  • The funding of continuous professional development for PSHE teachers and school nurses should be reinstated.
  • Ofsted should resume its regular subject surveys of PSHE provision.
  • SRE should be renamed Relationships and Sex Education – RSE - to emphasise the relationships element of the subject.

Having good quality Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) is key to ensuring that young people are empowered to take better care of themselves as they make the transition to adolescence. It must be a fundamental part of the life-course approach in preventing future ill health.

In our manifesto for the forthcoming General Election, the RCOG and Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) have both called for SRE to be made compulsory in schools and colleges and for the government to develop best practice and age-appropriate materials. Today’s announcements by the Education Committee add further weight to our vision for compassionate and cost-effective care.

RCOG President Dr David Richmond said, “The best way to promote healthy behaviours in the general population is to focus on education at a young age. Social media and the wide availability of information means that the youth of today are so much more sophisticated than their parents were. However, it is very difficult for them to know which sources of information to trust particularly when they navigate the internet. Schools have a responsibility to help provide credible, evidence-based information to children.

“The other issue is the delivery of SRE in schools. Those teaching the subject need to receive the appropriate levels of training so that they can be confident in the subject.”