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Local Authorities should tell primary schools: no more sex ed in science lessons, says Safe at School

13 September 2013

London, 13 September 2013: Local Authorities should advise that primary schools will not be permitted to include sex education in Key Stage 1 and 2 science lessons under the new National Curriculum, said the Safe at School campaign, which supports parents facing unacceptable sex education in their child's school.

Antonia Tully of Safe at School said: "Every parent should now feel confident that their primary-aged child will not be subjected to graphic information about sex in compulsory science lessons. Where local authorities advise schools of the requirements of the national curriculum, from 2014 they must stop advising both schools and parents that there is mandatory sex education in science lessons."

Mrs Tully said: "The outgoing primary science curriculum contains the word 'reproduction' in the statutory requirement for teaching the human life-cycle. Schools are viewing this as a green light to teach children about sexual intercourse in science lessons from which their parents could not withdraw them. Similarly under the outgoing curriculum, many schools are teaching children at Key Stage 1 (aged 5-7 years old) to identify their sexual organs.

"The incoming curriculum does not mandate schools to teach children about human genitalia or sexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction is only covered with reference to animals, with the suggestion that children should hatch and rear chicks to observe this." (See Notes for Editors below for relevant extracts from the new curriculum).

Safe at School is warning parents that vigilance by parents is still needed. The new science curriculum does suggest that Year 5 children (aged 9-10) could be taught about "the changes experienced in puberty". Mrs Tully said: "Parents must ask their child's teacher to show them exactly what will be shown in class if this is covered."

Meanwhile thousands of primary schools will have to update their Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) policy before 2014 to state clearly that no part of sex education is taught in science lessons. Safe at School will be advising parents and governors on this matter.

Antonia Tully of SPUC Safe at School can be contacted on 020 8407 3463 or 07926 007175. SPUC's communications department can be contacted on:

Safe at School is a campaign for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).

Notes for editors

Year 1 -  Animals, including humans

Statutory requirements:

Pupils should be taught to: identify, name, draw and label the basic parts of the human body and say which part of the body is associated with each sense.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory):

Pupils should have plenty of opportunities to learn the names of the main body parts (including head, neck, arms, elbows, legs, knees, face, ears, eyes, hair, mouth, teeth) through games, actions, songs and rhymes.

Year 2  - Animals, including humans

Statutory requirements:

Pupils should be taught to:

  • notice that animals, including humans, have offspring which grow into adults
  • find out about and describe the basic needs of animals, including humans, for
  • survival (water, food and air)
  • describe the importance for humans of exercise, eating the right amounts of different
  • types of food, and hygiene.

Notes and guidance (non-statutory):

Pupils should be introduced to the basic needs of animals for survival, as well as the importance of exercise and nutrition for humans. They should also be introduced to the processes of reproduction and growth in animals. The focus at this stage should be on questions that help pupils to recognise growth; they should not be expected to understand how reproduction occurs.

The following examples might be used: egg, chick, chicken; egg, caterpillar, pupa, butterfly; spawn, tadpole, frog; sheep, lamb. Growing into adults can include reference to baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult.

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