Sex and relationships survey

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The Populus/ Blue Rubicon survey into sex education was based on an interview with 1,661 parents of children aged 5 to 19 online in England between the 9th and 16th October 2009. Some of the main findings were:

  • 81% felt that sex and relationships education should be compulsory for pupils
  • almost half of respondents were not aware that parents had the right to withdraw their children from sex education
  • 30% thought that parents should be able to withdraw their children from these lessons whatever the age of the child
  • 20% thought that parents should never be able to withdraw their child from lessons

Interestingly the lowest percentage for agreeing with compulsory sex education came from the 25-34 year olds category. According to region, the North East was most strongly in favour of compulsory sex education (89%) in comparison to the North West who came out least in favour (77%).

There seems to be some contradiction in the results, in that although 81% felt that sex and relationships education should be compulsory 30% then went on to say that parents should be able to withdraw their children from lessons whatever the age of the child.

Customer Voice Research

Research conduced by Sherbert research for the DCSF into parents’ views on sex and relationships education found that:

  • parents rely on schools to educate their children in relation to sex and relationships education
  • having seen what the curriculum consisted of parents felt that no one should have the right to withdraw their child from it
  • parents felt that schools should do more to reassure parents about the content of the curriculum
  • parents still feel embarrassed talking about sex with their children and often wait for their children to ask rather than raising the discussion themselves
  • parents were very aware of the need to give sex education in context
  • some of the difficulties parents experience came from their own childhood experiences
  • parents wanted  schools’ messages in relation to sex education to be ‘rounded’ and wanted the voice used to be impartial with values that did not contradict their own
  • the majority of parents had very little idea about what was being taught in school
  • a major criticism of sex education in schools was its lack of standardization
  • parents would welcome a more generalised approach
  • all parents thought that the right to withdraw children from sex education up to the age of 19 should be reduced
  • only 6 out of 48 parents wanted to retain the right to withdraw children
  • there was support for the proposed programme of PSHE and Science

The research was in-depth focused research with 48 parents in total during October 2009. It was conducted through discussion groups with parents separated by gender.

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