Twenty-three Conservative MPs have backed a measure to introduce mandatory sex and relationship lessons in secondary schools.
The group, which includes five former cabinet ministers, have reportedly expressed their support for ‘relationship education’ to be added to the National Curriculum.
Education Secretary Justine Greening is among the MPs who are pushing for this change. She explained that these classes would include information about issues such as “the meaning of consent, signs of an exploitative relationship, including physical, mental and sexual harassment, conflict management and safety online”.
Children will also be taught about “the importance of respect, tolerance and commitment in all types of healthy relationships” Greening added.
The measure was introduced in the House of Commons this week as an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill which is currently being debated by Members of Parliament. If adopted this would represent the biggest changes to sex education in 17 years.
The five former ministers supporting the amendment are Dominic Grieve, Nicky Morgan, Maria Miller, Dame Caroline Spelman and Tim Loughton. The measure also has support from at least seven Labour MPs, The Telegraph reports. These include Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Sarah Champion and former Labour Party Policy Coordinator Jon Cruddas.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said these lessons should be “a vital part of preparing young people for success in adult life” so the government was “looking at options to ensure all children have access to high-quality teaching in these subjects”.
Last month, a survey by children’s charity Barnardo’s found that 74 per cent of youngsters want relationship lessons in school. In a poll of 1,000 children between 11 and 15 years old, the vast majority believed that being taught about these matters in an age-appropriate way would help keep them safe.