School leaders back compulsory sex education as bill heads for second reading

More than nine in ten school leaders agree that sex and relationships education (SRE) should start in primary school – but many do not feel teachers would be comfortable teaching the subject.

It comes after the education select committee, a cross-party group of MPs, last week called for SRE to be mandatory in primary schools.

Tomorrow, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas’ PSHE bill, which includes a statutory requirement for sex and relationship education, is to get its second reading in Parliament.

When asked the question “do you think most teachers feel comfortable teaching sex and relationship education?” 63 per cent of leaders did not believe they did.

Overwhelmingly, 91 per cent of those asked said SRE should start in either key stage 1 or 2.

While only 27 per cent of leaders felt parents should have the right to withdraw their children from SRE, but only 16 per cent agreed that parental objections was an issue at their school.

The education select committee recommended that the parental right to withdraw from elements of SRE should be retained.

The survey was carried out by school leadership and management company The Key and questioned more than 1,000 people.

Fergal Roche, chief executive, said a recent survey showed 91 per cent of senior leaders across England feel children should have access to sex and relationship education.

He added: “In 2013 Ofsted reported that sex and relationship education required improvement in over a third of schools, leaving some children unprepared for the physical and emotional changes they will experience during puberty, and when they grow up and form adult relationships.

“Almost two years on, just under two-thirds of school leaders have told us that they do not think their teachers feel comfortable teaching sex and relationship education. This suggests a need for significant support and training for teachers in order that they can build confidence in educating children about this vital topic.”


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