Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, has announced plans for the Government to introduce legislation that will see every child from the age of 4 taught sex education. Following years of campaigning, UK Youth Parliament welcomes the news that more young people will receive sex education and warns it must be implemented through a youth-led UK-wide review.
UK Youth Parliament has been calling for a ‘curriculum for life’ for a number of years. We’ve argued that a radical overhaul of citizenship education and PSHE is needed to ensure schools prepare students for life. Both PSHE and citizenship are really important for young people’s growth and development as they teach vital life skills and can be the first steps to engaging young people in political life.
This year, UK Youth Parliament will be working to achieve an adequate curriculum for life, following a vote by Members of Youth Parliament in the House of Commons last year, which saw the issue chosen as the priority campaign for England. UK Youth Parliament believes every young person across the UK should receive the same high-level standard of sex and relationship education in schools. It is nonetheless vitally important PSHE includes opportunities to learn about politics, cultural awareness, community cohesion, sustainable living and personal finance.
It’s become increasingly apparent that young people have felt the current citizenship education and PSHE provisions are inadequate for today’s generation of students. Young people have repeatedly called for a curriculum for life, most recently in UK Youth Parliament’s 2016 Make Your Mark ballot of 978,216 young people, when the issue was voted a top priority. However, it’s important to note a curriculum for life has become a recurring issue, topping the Make Your Mark on four occasions in the last 5 years.
The British Youth Council have also been working to convince the Government to introduce statutory and compulsory high-quality citizenship and sex and relationship education to the curriculum for a number of years. In 2013, the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee report ‘A Curriculum for Life’ concluded life skills education in schools fell well short of its full potential and little has been done to address the report’s findings since.
According to political commentators, it is likely that the introduction of a compulsory sex education would also include a change in teacher training. UK Youth Parliament believes it is paramount teaching staff are specifically trained to a national standard to deliver PSHE and citizenship education.