Sarah Champion MP responds to the publication of guidance on relationships and sex education

I really welcome the Government’s draft guidelines for relationship and sex education.  From my research with teachers, children’s charities, academics, parents and survivors of childhood abuse, relationship education at primary school is the one thing everyone agreed would make the biggest difference to prevent child abuse. 

Mandatory relationship education for all primary school children gives them the knowledge and skills to respect themselves and others, and an understanding that not all relationships are healthy. Sadly, not all children grow up knowing what a healthy relationship looks like. Around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse and nine out of ten children know, or are related to their abuser.  This guidance allows every child to have protection from abuse, it is not about teaching sex to primary school children.

Updating of the relationship and sex education guidance is long overdue.  Children face dangers online that were never envisaged in 2000, when the last set of guidance was issued.  I welcome the robust approach that the government have taken on online safety in the draft guidance.

Guidance alone is not enough.  The Government needs to provide Teachers with training and resources to enable relationship education to be as engaging as possible.

It is vital that all children feel that the new relationship and sex education guidance is relevant to them. Some pupil will have LGBT parents or be LGBT themselves. In The Terrance Higgins Trust’s research report “Shhh… No Talking” published in 2016, 95% of the young people surveyed had not learned about LGBT sex and relationships. The new guidance addresses this past failure and will go a long way to creating a more inclusive and supportive society.

Jim Pomeroy