Nicky Morgan: Teachers support sex and relationships education

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Education Secretary and Minister for Equalities Nicky Morgan says the majority of teachers she has spoken to fully support sex and relationships education.

The senior Tory rejected suggestions that it amounted to a “workload” issue for teachers in an interview to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

Mrs Morgan has been urged by campaigners to make sex and relationships education (SRE) and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education, a statutory requirement for all schools.

Last month, she hinted that she could be moving towards supporting the reform, but stressed on needing to strike a “balance” at Whitehall.

She told the Times Educational Supplement: “There is a balance too between saying from Whitehall ‘this is what we want to do’ and schools feeling more overburdened. It is a balance that I am conscious of needing to strike.”

However, speaking today, Mrs Morgan said she was referring to administrative tasks such as “form filling” and “lesson planning” – rather than teaching in the classroom.

She said teachers and unions supported SRE: “I have never yet met a teacher who has said to me having a conversation about preparing our young people for life in modern Britain – things like sex and relationship education – is a bit of the workload that [they] don’t want to do…”

Joe Hayman, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association, welcomed the remarks.

He told “We welcome these positive comments and agree that teachers are supportive of high-quality PSHE education – indeed 88% of teachers responding to a recent NUT survey said that they felt the subject should be compulsory.

“We have also been heartened by statements of support from three major teaching unions (ATL, NUT and the NAHT) and the willingness of other unions to be involved in discussions about the subject’s future.”

Mr Hayman added: “It is crucial that we work with unions, faith school representatives, academy chains and others to ensure that PSHE education is recognised as being integral to the achievement of core school objectives, not seen as an additional burden.

“This means ensuring high-quality initial teacher education and CPD opportunities, making clear links between PSHE education and the rest of the curriculum and ensuring all schools have expert advice to call upon so that they can make best use of limited curriculum time.”

A Private Members’ Bill, tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas, requiring SRE to be introduced as a provision of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education, is scheduled for a second reading debate and vote on 24 October.

The Lib Dems have signalled support for the bill.

Labour has already promised to make SRE statutory if it wins the 2015 general election.

In September, several LGBT organisations, including PinkNews, urged for the government to introduce LGBT-inclusive SRE .

It’s expected Nicky Morgan will outline her position ahead of the vote.

Yesterday, at the Conservative Party Conference, she spoke of the need to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

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