Catherine West – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Education

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Catherine West on 2016-02-09.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make it her policy to make training on teaching Sex and Relationships Education mandatory for all teachers.

Edward Timpson

The Government believes that all children should have the opportunity to receive a high quality and appropriate sex and relationship education (SRE). SRE is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and many primary schools also teach it in an age-appropriate way. The Government also expects academies and free schools to deliver SRE as part of their provision of a broad and balanced curriculum.

Any state-funded school teaching SRE must have regard to the Secretary of State’s SRE guidance (2000). The Department has received requests about updating the existing SRE guidance which we will carefully consider.

Initial Teacher Training (ITT) is currently determined by the Teachers’ Standards, which all trainee teachers must be able to demonstrate by the end of their training. The Standards set out the key principles of good subject pedagogy and the importance of subject knowledge development across the curriculum. Schools and headteachers are best placed to determine which staff learning activities will be most beneficial for their schools and we expect them to lead the personal development of their teachers to improve the quality of all round teaching.

The Department supports schools’ efforts to improve PSHE teaching by drawing schools’ attention to a range of high quality PSHE education teaching resources, including quality resources, lesson plans, a programme of study, factsheets and case studies. These resources are kite-marked by the PSHE Association to ensure that schools can trust the materials they use and improve their teaching.

Ofsted does not inspect individual curriculum subjects. However, aspects of PSHE education and SRE will inform its judgment on personal development, behaviour and welfare. Inspectors must also consider the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. Schools have responsibility for acting upon the inspection reports they receive and any weaknesses will be considered when the school is next inspected.

We expect schools to ensure that young people, whatever their developing sexuality or identity, feel that SRE education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs. The statutory SRE guidance is clear that schools should teach about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted infections are also covered as part of the national curriculum for science at key stage 3.

We welcome the supplementary SRE guidance ‘SRE for the 21st Century’ produced by Brook, the PSHE Association and the Sex Education Forum, which includes guidance on ensuring that SRE is inclusive. All children and young people, regardless of background or identity, are entitled to quality SRE that helps them build confidence and stay healthy.