Study calls for better sex education training for teachers

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A new report from organisations representing parents, teachers and governors is calling for improvements in training and resources for teachers delivering sex and relationship education (SRE).

The report ‘Sex and Relationship Education – views from teachers, parents and governors’ details the results of a groundbreaking survey that was carried out by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and National Governors Association (NGA) in partnership with Durex.

The report was launched on Tuesday 26 October to an audience of education and sexual health professionals at a special meeting at the House of Lords held by the All Party Parliamentary Pro Choice and Sexual Health Group and the All Parliamentary Group on Children.

The results show that although more than nine out of 10 parents feel it is very important that children receive information on practising safer sex and using contraception, eight out of 10 teachers don’t feel trained and confident in talking about SRE.

It revealed a high level of agreement between the three groups about SRE, with 91% of parents, 83% of governors and 83% of teachers believing it is very important that young people have information on practising safer sex. The results are similar for information on always using contraception, where 92% of parents, 76% of teachers and 82% of governors feel it is very important that young people have information.

Despite this, 80% of teachers do not feel trained and confident in talking about SRE. And the teaching materials available to them could be improved – only 9% of teachers rated them as very useful and a quarter (25%) rated them either not very or not at all useful.

And only 8% of teachers and 7% of governors believe that current SRE in schools is preparing children ‘very well’ for the future.

The report concludes that three specific changes should be made to the way SRE is delivered in schools:

  • That all children and young people should be entitled to quality SRE in school
  • That teachers should be given appropriate training to deliver SRE effectively
  • That appropriate resources should be made available to support the teaching of SRE

The survey was co-ordinated for the parents, teachers and governors by Durex.

Sion Humphreys, of the education management department of the NAHT,said: "The key issues for teachers must be training and resources. It is essential that they are of a standard to allow SRE to be delivered properly. This is an urgent need that must be addressed if we are to be able to prepare young people properly for their futures."

Gillian Allcroft, NGA Policy Manager, agreed: "The results show that parents, teachers and governors recognise the importance of SRE, it is vital now to ensure that the tools and training are there to deliver it properly."

David Butler, Chief Executive of NCPTA said: "Our children deserve the best sex education we can give them to prepare them for the future. If SRE lessons aren’t preparing children and young people properly for life as adults, then they need to be improved. More needs to be done to ensure teachers are trained in how to deliver sex education. More should also be done to involve parents in reinforcing sex education messages in the home and to do this effectively, parents need more information about what children are learning and the most appropriate resources to use with their children."

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