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International News

United Kingdom: Government Plans Include Sex Education for All Pupils

April 28, 2009

On Monday, the government proposed how personal, social, and health education (PSHE) would be made mandatory in all state secondary schools in England. The most controversial element of the proposal is the plan to make sex education compulsory. Schools Secretary Ed Balls accepted the review and said the proposals will now be subject to consultation.

For the first time, all state secondary schools, including faith-based schools, would have to teach a core curriculum about sex and contraception. Previously, schools had to teach just the basics of reproduction, contraception, and puberty in science classes. The sex education curriculum would begin in primary schools, where pupils would learn about different types of relationships, managing their emotions, and the physical changes that occur during childhood.

The plan includes a clause that allows faith-based schools to deliver the lessons in accord with the "context, values, and ethos" of their religion, the report said. That would give faith schools discretion to take a doctrinal approach regarding matters such as extramarital sex, contraception, and homosexuality. Parents would also retain the right to exclude their child from participation in sex education lessons.

"What we're trying to do, and I accept it's difficult, is find a balance between young people having an entitlement to knowledge, facts, information, but where schools -- particularly schools with a particular faith interest or other disposition -- also have a right to put that in the context of their particular institution," said Sir Alasdair Macdonald, head teacher of London's Morpeth school, who led the review.

While Catholic schools welcomed the move, sexual health advocates warned the approach could confuse teenagers.

Back to other news for April 2009

Adapted from:
The Guardian (London)
04.28.2009; Polly Curtis

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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