Following today’s announcement from Government that from the age of four, children will receive compulsory relationships education in all schools in England, BASW has welcomed this strengthening of children’s rights. Children will also be taught, at an appropriate age, about sex. Parents will retain the right to withdraw their children from these classes.
BASW has been lobbying hard on the proposed Children and Social Work Bill, within which this latest amendment on Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) will be included. BASW Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen explains: “This change in policy is long overdue and recent Child Sexual Exploitation (CRE) cases have highlighted the urgency of ensuring statutory teaching so that children and young people can understand the difference between healthy relationships and abusive relationships and how to keep themselves safe.
“This amendment had very strong cross party support, which is heartening. BASW met with Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, during the preparatory stage of getting government agreement for this to be included in the Bill and offered our advice. We emphasised how important it is to listen to what young people tell us about their needs and how to help schools frame their activities and accountability, given their prominent role in safeguarding.
“Quality sex and relationship education is a key component of successful child safeguarding. However, we have to acknowledge there will be sensitivities relating to faith and culture with how this work will be delivered. In addition, teachers, school governors and support staff will need proper training and support in order to deliver this additional section of the curriculum. Young people will also still need access to safe, confidential and schools-based health services and this must be properly resourced."