Parents' views sought over sex and relationship lessons

Parents are being asked what their children should be taught in school sex and relationship lessons.

The Government said it wants mothers and fathers as well as teachers and young people to give their views on what should be included in a new curriculum on the subject.

Education Secretary Justine Greening announced earlier this year that sex and relationships education is to be made compulsory in all of England's schools.

As part of the move, statutory guidance on the subject is being updated, amid concerns that the current advice is out-of-date and fails to address modern-day issues such as cyber-bullying, sexting and online safety.

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The Department for Education is today launching an eight-week call for evidence, asking for views on age-appropriate content on topics to be included in sex and relationships education, including mental wellbeing and LGBT issues.

Ms Greening said: "It is unacceptable that relationships and sex education (RSE) guidance has not been updated for almost 20 years especially given the online risks, such as sexting and cyber-bullying, our children and young people face.

"Young people must have an education that teaches them the importance of healthy and stable relationships.

"This call for evidence is about giving teachers, parents and especially young people a chance to help shape that new approach and I'd urge them to take part."

The call for evidence will look at areas such as what teachers think pupils should be taught, how parents expect children to be taught age-appropriate sex and relationships education, and what youngsters think they would benefit from being taught.

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The process will be led by Ian Bauckham, CEO of the Tenax Schools Trust.

He said: "Since I started work as a teacher over 30 years ago, enormous changes have taken place both in the lives of young people and in the wider world in which we are preparing them to live.

"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."

Under legislation passed earlier this year, relationships education is now compulsory in all primary schools, while sex and relationships education is compulsory in secondaries.

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall, said: "The current guidance, published 17 years ago, contains no mention of LGBT people.

"Schools that teach LGBT-inclusive RSE are in the minority, leaving many LGBT young people without the information they need to make safe, informed decisions.

"Just 13% of LGBT young people have learnt about healthy same-sex relationships.

"In schools where pupils receive an inclusive education, LGBT pupils are less likely to experience bullying. They are also more likely to report feeling safe, welcome and happy at school.

"We've been approached by many teachers who want to deliver inclusive education, but lack the confidence or knowledge to do so. We would encourage all pupils, teachers and parents to have their say to ensure schools offer a curriculum that serves all young people."