City councillors back calls for all Stoke-on-Trent schools to teach sex education

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City councillors are backing calls for all schools across Stoke-on-Trent to teach sex education, regardless of religion.

Cllr Joy Garner says there should be no exceptions as local education authorities look to bring in new Government plans to introduce compulsory sex education.

Parents in the city have broadly welcomed the proposals in a city which has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the UK.

Cllr Garner, on Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “It’s important we all have the same information and that that information is correct.

“Consent needs to be taught and understood in the same way across all systems of education.

“No exceptions for religious or private or academy schools.”

Fellow Cllr Dave Evans, also on the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, agreed.

“We have a standard curriculum for most subjects,” he said.

“I think it makes sense to put relationship, and sex education, on a par with others, making sure every school has prepared our young people to enter the world.”

The government announced its decision last year that all secondary schools would teach the same relationship and sex education.

Currently, different schools are teaching varying levels of relationship and sex education, leaving some students with incomplete knowledge.

Becky Cowen, a mother-of-one from Stoke-on-Trent, said: “I have no problem at all with sex education from a young age, I just wish more parents talked about it at home.

“I know so many women who don’t even know the real name for stuff or how reproductive organs work.

“Sex isn’t something to be ashamed of.”

Sara Bourne, from Stoke, a mum to a six and three-year-old, said: “I think the emotional side of sexual relationships needs to be covered far more, and I think it needs to be revisited each year.

“This is often covered in PSHE and citizenship by general subject teachers but I think that it may be more effective if it is either delivered by sexual health workers or school staff that have had more in depth training.

“Talking about sex with teenagers is very challenging and needs specialist input.”

The FPA sexual health charity has campaigned for the change for many years.

Natika Halil, chief executive of FPA, said: “While some schools do a fantastic job, for decades parents have told us that they’re unhappy about the poor quality of relationship and sex education in many schools – but they’ve been frustrated at how little they can do to change that.”

From 2019, every secondary school in England will have to teach the same relationships and sex education.

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