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Women's rights charities publish free sex education guide for schools

Published 10/09/2015

There is a gap in sex and relationship education, charities said
There is a gap in sex and relationship education, charities said

Women's rights charities have said they are filling the "huge hole" left by Government in sex and relationship education by publishing their own free guide for schools.

The materials designed for secondary school teachers cover issues including sexual and violent abuse, harassment, consent, sexting and healthy relationships.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), which published the guide, said it was "critical" that schools knew how to address different forms of abuse that could be happening both outside and inside schools.

A Freedom of Information request recently found more than 5,500 sex offences in schools across the UK were reported to the police in the last three years.

A separate request found more than 1,000 youngsters under the age of 18 had been investigated for sending nude or explicit images of themselves on social media or messaging services since 2012.

Sarah Green, acting director of EVAW which represents women's charities across the UK, said: "The production of these guides by voluntary agencies is a reminder that the lack of statutory status for sex and relationships education in our schools creates a huge hole in certainty about addressing critical safety and equality issues with young people.

"We have produced this new guide for school leaders because we know that many feel they need more support on ensuring there is good staff level understanding of different forms of abuse and the warning signs, and on what good teaching and school practice looks like."

The Department for Education said sex and relationship education was compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and earlier this year published guidance on teaching consent.

She welcomed Business Secretary Sajid Javid's new inquiry into reducing violence against women at universities, amid concerns sexist "lad culture" was endangering female students, but urged the Government to carry out a similar review on schools.

The EVAW guide has been published along with a new teaching resource from Rape Crisis South London, which uses a series of short films to help young people understand sexual consent.

Dr Fiona Vera Gray, of Rape Crisis South London and one of the authors of the Give'n'Get teaching resource, said: "Research published by the Children's Commissioner on young people's understanding of sexual consent showed that while many understand consent in the abstract, when presented with real life scenarios they often lose their way and can resort to blaming victims and making excuses for perpetrators of rape."

A Department for Education spokesman: "We work closely with expert organisations to ensure that teachers have the appropriate resources they need to deliver high quality teaching.

"New guidance from the PSHE Association, which last year received a £75,000 grant from DfE, will provide secondary teachers with the information they need to teach pupils the importance of building healthy relationships in an age-appropriate way, including a new resource on consent.

"High-quality PSHE and relationship education has an important role to play helping young people make informed decisions and ensuring they know what support is available.

"All schools must have regard to our published guidance on sex and relationship guidance."

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