At present, there is no statutory requirement for the provision of Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) across primary and secondary schools in the UK. We see the impact of this each time we work with Deaf young people in schools. Many are unable to correctly name their body parts, know next to nothing about sexually transmitted infections and have zero understanding of the issues relating to ‘consent’. Access to the vocabulary of SRE all too often proves especially challenging for deaf children. It is common in our experience for terms such as genitals, contraception, intercourse, sexuality to be met with blank faces.
But there are wider issues. A 2015 report by the Education Select Committee highlighted a number of significant concerns regarding provision of SRE in England. These relate largely to lack of consistency and quality in the delivery of SRE across primary and secondary education.
We believe that access to effective and gender-sensitive SRE syllabus for all children in all schools is an educational necessity and access to such education should be considered a fundamental right for every child in the UK, because currently:
- Existing government guidance on the provision, delivery, formulation, and content of SRE varies between governmental bodies of the different nations of the UK.
- Existing government guidance relating to the provision, delivery, formulation, and content of SRE is vague and non-prescriptive.
- Current SRE provision suffers from both regional and school-specific variations in quality.
- No current regulations exist to stipulate who should deliver SRE within schools, thus contributing to variation in quality of delivery.
- The delivery of SRE is often too late in the context of adolescent development.
- Important areas of understanding for young boys and girls, such as consent, are currently not included in government guidance for SRE provision.
We support legislation to require Sex and Relationships Education to be taught in all English schools. If you share this view how about taking a minute or two using a model letter to tell your MP. All you have to do is visit our friends over at the Sex Education Forum (of which Deafax is a core member) and put in your postcode which then tells you your MP’s current position - easy as that.