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Ian Bauckham leads the Governments review of SRE.

Ian Bauckham leads the Governments review of SRE.

Since I started work as a teacher over thirty years ago, enormous changes have taken place both in the lives of young people and in the wider world in which we are preparing them to live.  Scarcely a day goes by without us hearing of the challenges young people face growing up in today’s world.  Although some of these are similar to those which have always been faced by young people, there are many new and worrying pressures and risks too, not least those caused by the online world which our young people now inhabit, and the constant virtual interaction which is expected of them. 

The year 2000, when guidance for schools on teaching relationships and sex education was last revised, seems in many ways like another world. Online exploitation, ‘sexting’, cyberbullying via smartphones are just some of the problems we had never even heard of twenty years ago.  There has also been a revolution over the same period in the way society thinks about issues of gender and sexuality and a very welcome increased commitment to stamping out sexual violence and sexual harassment wherever it is found.

I believe there is broad agreement about the principle that schools should give all young people the knowledge and personal qualities they need to deal with today’s highly networked and fast-changing world safely, and to develop stable, healthy and secure relationships of all types which allow them to be confident and to flourish both now and later in adult life. However, there are many different types of schools and local contexts across England, and there may be differences of opinion on how these topics are best approached by schools. 

I therefore warmly welcome the government’s decision to seek views on this important topic as part of the work to make Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education compulsory in all schools and to consider the case for making Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE). Compulsory as well.  Of course, very many schools around the country are already doing superb work in teaching young people both about relationships and also wider topics generally grouped under the heading of PSHE. Many schools also provide an environment where positive personal qualities are deliberately modelled and developed in all aspects of school life.

I hope that the call for evidence being launched now gives us the chance to find out about the best teaching and to improve provision for all our young people in all types of school. For many there is great urgency in this work as the risks and opportunities young people face in today’s world are real and immediate. As the person charged with advising the Secretary of State, I want to make sure that everyone has had a chance to have their say: parents, teachers, headteachers, governors, local communities, faith groups,  charities working with young people, and members of the public. 


Critically, I want to make sure that we hear from young people themselves. They will have important views and direct relevant experience which should shape the decisions we make on this topic. I would therefore ask all young people to help us make sure the next generation of pupils in our schools gets the best possible teaching on relationships and related topics by engaging with this call for evidence.

We may not be able to change the complex and often risky world our young people will live in, but we can do something about how well they are prepared for it.  I hope we can use this opportunity to make the improvements needed to equip all young people to lead happier, safer lives both now and later in adulthood.

Ian Bauckham is leading the Government's review of SRE. 

(taken from an article in The Telegraph on 19th December)


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