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Poll: Should Primary School Children Learn About Sex?

School Closures

Published at 9:35am 17th February 2015. (Updated at 11:25am 17th February 2015)

Primary school children should be taught about sex and relationships to keep them safe from abuse, according to a committee of MPs.

Youngsters have a right to the information and should be taught about it during their schooling, the Commons education select committee says.

A report by the committee is one of two published today which blame the Government for not doing enough, with the Office of the Children's Commissioner echoing the call for statutory sex education.

The study by MPs says the Government should introduce age-appropriate relationships and sex education (RSE) as a statutory subject in primary and secondary schools.

But they also said parents should retain their right to withdrawn their children from lessons.

Committee chair Graham Stuart MP said: "Young people have a right to information that will keep them healthy and safe.

"PSHE builds character and resilience, and will help young people to live happy and healthy lives."

Meanwhile, in a report on the state of child protection in England, Sue Berelowitz, deputy children's commissioner for England, said more work needs to be done to identify and help abuse victims and children at risk of sexual exploitation.

"Once again we are calling for age-appropriate relationships and sex education to be made a statutory component of the curriculum," she said.

"Young people need to understand what are and what are not healthy relationships."

At present primary schools do not have to provide sex and relationships lessons outside the science curriculum, while state secondary schools have to cover sexually transmitted diseases as part of science for students aged 14 to 16-year-olds.

Academies do not have to offer sex and relationships education, but if they do they must take into account the Government's guidance.

Responding to the MPs' findings, a Department for Education spokesperson said: "We are aware that more needs to be done to raise the quality of teaching in this area and we will consider the findings of this report carefully."

Stephanie Benbow is Headteacher of St Mary's High School in Cheshunt.

She says it's better pupils learn the fact in class than search online: "We mustn't underestimate what students and young people are explosed to; sometimes because they seek out that information, sometimes because they're exposed to that information. That's what we've got to be realistic about and we have to respond to it so we are meeting their needs in full."

"Personal, social health and economic education and sex and relationships education is not good enough in our schools according to Ofsted. 40% of schools aren't doing it very well and with sexting, cyber bullying and internet pornography, the risks to children are greater than ever and this form of education need to be good; not just in some schools, but in all schools."

Campaigner Alan Craig thinks primary pupils are too young to learn about sex: "Children aged five and six don't need to be concerned about those sorts of things at all; it's not relevant to them at that stage. They should be allowed to play and grow and flourish as five and six year olds and I'd be very grateful if the government banned it completely from primary schools."

Should sex education be compulsory in primary schools?
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