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FPH commends plans for compulsory sex education

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) strongly supports the Government’s announcement that it plans to amend the Children and Social Work Bill to make relationships and sex education (RSE) compulsory in all secondary schools, to make relationships education compulsory in all primary schools and to update the statutory guidance on RSE by September 2019.

FPH President, Professor John Middleton, said: “As well as a high standard of academic education, it is vital that we support our children and young people in understanding and developing the skills to live and thrive as individuals and as members of society. This means building their emotional resilience in order to deal with the pressures they will face while navigating through a complex and changing world.

“The UK has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe. Poor social and emotional capabilities increase the likelihood of health-harming behaviour, mental health problems, and reduce life chances. We have also seen increasing awareness of violence within young people’s relationships, and there is growing concern over the accessibility of online pornography and its potential impact on our views on relationships and sex.”

The amendment would also give the Secretary of State power to make personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education statutory in its entirety, dependent on consultation by the Department for Education. Statutory PSHE and RSE is one of FPH’s 12 manifesto ambitions, and will support our children and young people to build emotional resilience and to navigate through life.

FPH looks forward to supporting the Government in ensuring that the statutory guidance makes clear that "relationships education" in primary schools encompasses all aspects of a comprehensive, age-appropriate relationships and sex education programme, and that primary schools know that the best way of delivering this is through broad and balanced PSHE education. FPH will make a strong case for PSHE to be on a statutory footing when we respond to the forthcoming consultation.

Please read FPH’s response to the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into the role of education in children and young people's mental health.

Written: 03/03/2017 , last modified: 08/03/2017