Report critical of sex education
Some children are not receiving good sex education lessons because their teachers find the subject embarrassing, inspectors have suggested.
In many secondary schools, pupils were taught about the biology of sex, but learned little about relationships, according to an Ofsted report, with teenagers saying that the education they did receive was taught "too late".
In other cases, youngsters were not taught enough about the long-term dangers of alcohol and drugs, inspectors said.
The study analysed personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education in 92 primary and 73 secondary schools in England based on inspections carried out between September 2006 and July last year.
It showed that in more than a third (34%) of the secondary schools visited, students' knowledge of sex and relationship was "no better than satisfactory", while in a further three schools it was rated "inadequate".
The report said: "Students' knowledge and understanding was often good about the biology of sex but weaker about relationships. They said that their sex and relationships education was taught too late and there was not enough of it to be useful.
"Discussion was sometimes limited because of the teacher's embarrassment or lack of knowledge. In these schools, the students did not have the opportunity to explore the nature of relationships in any depth. They had not discussed managing risks, saying 'no', negotiation in relationships, divorce and separation, or living in reconstituted families."
Schools often invited speakers in to give sex education classes, the report found, but in some cases these discussions were also "sometimes constrained by embarrassment".
Inspectors concluded that the majority of schools were teaching PSHE well, although in almost one in four of those visited the quality of teaching was "variable" and teachers' knowledge was not good enough.
The report also raised concerns about drug and alcohol education.