Victory! Progressives respond to sex education win after long campaign

MPs hail 'big step forward' and call for proper teacher training


News that teaching school children about sex and relationships will now be compulsory was welcomed as ‘a big step forward’ by progressive parties.

It follows a long campaign by MPs and activists including a joint letter by the chairs of five Commons select committees and a report from the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) on sex-related bullying in schools.

The policy is part of an amendment tabled today to the Children and Social Work Bill, and was welcomed by Maria Miller MP, the Tory chair of the WEC.

Sarah Champion, Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister, was on ITV last night calling on the government to do the right thing.

She warned a lack of proper sex education would leave children turning to the internet pornography for information, asking: ‘Do we really want our children being educated by porn?’

This morning the MP for Rotherham was unveiling Labour’s agenda on boosting the power of women in the economy, but she tweeted that specialists should be involved in the training.

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said she was ‘absolutely delighted’ by the news:

This is the culmination of years of campaigning by the Labour Party, charities and MPs across the House, and I’m pleased the Minister has listened to the arguments and acted appropriately.

Good quality relationship and sex education in schools is key to the prevention of child abuse and violence in teenage relationships.

It provides children with the knowledge, resilience and confidence they need to challenge exploitative relationships.”

She added:

“Relationship and sex education is most effective when it sits as part of a whole-school approach embedding across the curriculum with well-trained staff.

The government must now ensure schools have the resources to deliver this.

Former Labour acting leader Harriet Harman said the policy was ‘many years overdue’, adding: ‘Great it’s finally happening.’

Lisa Nandy MP said: ‘At last! Young people have campaigned for this for years.’

John Pugh MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“This is welcome news and something my party has long called for. […]

Age appropriate sex and relationship education is key to enabling young people can talk about the many complex issues they will face as they grow up, and helping them to become confident and healthy adults.

[…] This is a long overdue development and will, I hope, be a big step forward.”

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, whose proposed Bill on sex education was ‘talked out’ last month by Tory MPs, called the result ‘wonderful news’. She said:

At last the government has pulled its head out of the sand by promising to give all children their right to sex and relationships education.

Ministers have finally listened to the many thousands of young people, parents, teachers and campaigners who I’ve been working with on this crucial issue.

This very welcome announcement must now be delivered properly, and much will depend on the regulations and guidance to follow.”

She called on ministers to say how teachers will be trained.

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