UK Government blocks Labour bid to make sex education compulsory

Date: 24th January 2017
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

Conservative MPs have blocked an attempt by the Labour Party to introduce compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools. Compulsory and quality SRE is one of the recommendations made by Together in the Scottish context in its 2016 State of Children's Rights report.

The proposals, tabled in an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill, would have placed a duty on local authorities to ensure all children in their areas received education on sex and relationships, same-sex relationships, sexual consent, sexual violence and domestic violence.

Education watchdog Ofsted would carry out targeted inspections as part of safeguarding requirements, and pupils would be able to withdraw from the lessons if requested, as is currently the case. SRE is currently compulsory in schools funded by local authorities, and subject to inspection by Ofsted, but academies and free schools can choose whether to follow government guidelines on the subject. Labour MP Stella Creasy argued that the government was failing to ensure all pupils had access to the information they require by only providing guidance on SRE provision. She said legislation is the only way to ensure children are educated properly.