News Digest 13 – 17 February

This week a number of MPs and organisations sent an open letter to Justine Greening. The Government released its progress on tackling child sexual exploitation. The Local Government Association expressed concerns about STI’s among 20 to 24-year-olds and linked it to a lack of SRE. The Institute of Development Studies launched a review on sex education in the digital era. Finally, two parliamentary questions were answered.

Open letter to Justine Greening
On February 14th the End Violence Against Women Coalition sent an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening, urging the Government to bring forward legislation that will help give young people the knowledge and skills to have respectful, healthy loving relationships throughout their lives. The letter was co-signed by a number of MPs and associations and charities, including the Association of Police and Crime (APCC).

APCC Chair Dame Vera Baird QC said: “The Association of Police and Crime believe that all schools should provide their students with personal, social and health education compulsory, with age-appropriate sex and relationships education as a mandatory element.”

Child Sexual Exploitation progress report 2017
On February 16th the Government released its progress on tackling child sexual exploitation. In its analysis, the Government referred to the Disrespect Nobody campaign that it has funded for several years: "At the height of the 2016 campaign the Disrespect Nobody lessons plans, created by the PSHE Association, were downloaded 4,500 times and 34% of teenagers surveyed claimed they would be more likely to change the way they behave in relationships, and 74% claimed they would be more confident in challenging abusive behaviour in their friendship group."

Local Government Association says lack of SRE fuels STI’s
On February 15th the Local Government Association expressed worry about the number of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) among 20 to 24-year-olds. With 141,060 new diagnoses in 2015, this age group is diagnosed almost twice often as 15 to 19-year-olds. Town halls say that this major health issue could be tackled by making sex and relationship education compulsory in schools.

Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Secccombe said: “The lack of compulsory sex and relationship education in academies and free schools is storing up problems for later on in life, creating a ticking sexual health time bomb, as we are seeing in those who have recently left school” and “the evidence suggests that when designed and delivered in the right way, SRE can have a really positive impact on a pupil's development.”

Global sex education in our digital era
On February 14th the Institute of Development Studies launched new research on sex education in the digital era. Findings suggest that global goals, such as reduced teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality, cannot be achieved unless policy makers, practitioners and researchers deal with the problems that arise with sexuality and sex education in digital spaces.

Evidence to mental health inquiry asks for statutory PSHE
The Education Policy Institute has published the evidence it gave to the House of Commons Health Select Committee inquiry in January 2017 on its website. The independent, evidence-based research institute that aims to promote high quality education outcomes for young people recommends that “there should be statutory, up to date, PSHE in all schools and colleges with dedicated time.”

Written questions on PSHE and SRE

  • Richard Burden asked whether the Government will ensure that first aid and CPR shall be taught in all schools. Edward Timpson answered that many schools already choose to include CPR as part of the PSHE teaching and that the PSHE Association Programme of Study recommends school teach young people to recognize and follow health procedures to minimise harm in risky situations.
  • Helen Hayes asked what steps the Government is taking to ensure that schools are places where young people can learn without a threat of sexual bullying, LGBT bullying and harassment. Caroline Dinenage answered that protecting women and girls from violence is one of the Government’s key priorities. It does this by working with partners such as the PSHE Association, in order to create high quality teaching resources such as the Disrespect Nobody resource that was launched in early February 2017.

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