BHA welcomes new findings in support of compulsory sex and relationships education

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today welcomed a number of new reports and surveys showing strong support for making Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in schools.

On Monday, the NAHT trade union published a survey which found 88 per cent of parents saying that ‘sex education and lessons in adult and/or peer to peer relationships’ should ‘be mandatory in schools’.

This was followed by a report published yesterday by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), urging further action to be taken by the Government to prevent violent abuse. EVAW called for ‘Compulsory Sex and Relationships Education to ensure that all schools tackle harmful attitudes and behaviours amongst young people’, and this was accompanied by a survey by YouGov which found that 86 per cent of the public thinking that ‘it should be compulsory for secondary schools to provide sex and relationships education which addresses sexual consent and respectful relationships’ – with 48 per cent also thinking this for primary schools. The BHA is a member of EVAW.

Finally, today the Children’s Commissioner has published a report on the issue of the easy accessability of pornography to young people. This report recommends that ‘The Department for Education should ensure that all schools understand the importance of, and deliver, effective relationship and sex education which must include safe use of the internet. A strong and unambiguous message to this effect should be sent to all education providers including: all state funded schools including academies; maintained schools; independent schools; faith schools; and further education colleges.’

BHA Education Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We welcome the conclusions of these three reports, each highlighting important areas of sex and relationships education and coming to the rational conclusion that the subject should be compulsory in schools.

‘Most areas of PSHE are currently not compulsory in schools, leading to many pupils receiving inadequate education in this area. In 2009-10 the then Labour Government proposed to put PSHE on the national curriculum, but this change was dropped as it was not passed before the election. The Coalition subsequently proposed another review of PSHE, but the conclusion of this in March was essentially that nothing will change.

‘Since then the calls for compulsory PSHE and sex education have amplified. In April, over 100 groups signed the Sex Education Forum’s letter calling for strong sex education in Science. In addition, the place of PSHE was debated in the House of Lords, with consensus from all quarters that more needs to be done. This conclusion was echoed earlier this month in Ofsted’s new report on PSHE, called Not yet good enough. And now we have this week’s multitude of surveys and reports.

‘We hope the Government is listening to the strong consensus on this matter.’



For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072.

Read NAHT’s survey:

Read EVAW’s survey and report:

Read the Children’s Commissioner’s report:

Read the previous BHA news items:

‘BHA responds to outcome of PSHE Review’, 21 March 2013:

‘BHA signs SEF letter calling for strong sex education in national curriculum science’, 12 April 2013:

‘Lords debate Personal, Social, Health and Economic education’, 26 April 2013:

‘BHA welcomes Ofsted report highlighting need for improvements in PSHE’, 1 May 2013:

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on PSHE and Sex and Relationships Education:

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief. The BHA contributes to debate on a wide range of ethical issues from stem cell research to sex education. The BHA is a member of the National Children’s Bureau Sex Education Forum (SEF), the End Violence Against Women Coalition and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England.