House of Lords Select Committee Report on HIV & AIDS

The select committee’s first report was published this month and can be read in full here. A number of recommendations are made, including these with regards to SRE provision in schools:

348. Ensuring that as many young people as possible can access good quality sex and relationships education (SRE) is crucial. We recommend that the Government’s internal review of PSHE considers the issue of access to SRE as a central theme. Teaching on the biological and social aspects of HIV and AIDS should be integrated into SRE.

349. Whilst acknowledging that the review is yet to complete its work, we recommend that the provision of SRE should be a mandatory requirement within the National Curriculum, to enable access for all. Such education should begin within all schools from Key Stage 1, though this teaching must be age-appropriate.

350. There is an important role to be played by external providers, but we recommend that SRE should be primarily delivered by teachers, who must be trained to deliver this teaching. This training must focus on all aspects of HIV and AIDS, to ensure that teachers are confident on the subject.

Coalition Thinking – status of SRE

Under the new coalition government the status of sex and relationship education has not changed at present. The Schools White Paper “The Importance of Teaching” published in November 2010 states that children need high-quality sex and relationships education so they can make wise and informed choices. Therefore the most up-to-date legislation relating to sex and relationships education (SRE) are contained within the Education Act (1996) and the Learning and Skills Act (2000).

The requirements are that: it is compulsory for all maintained schools to teach some parts of sex education i.e. the biological aspects of puberty, reproduction and the spread of viruses. These topics are statutory parts of the National Curriculum Science which must be taught to all pupils of primary and secondary age. There is also a requirement for secondary schools to teach about HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted infections as part of the National Curriculum Science. See SEF Briefing, CURRENT status of Sex and Relationships Education, Sex Ed Forum, March 2011