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Sex and relationships education

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On Wednesday 1 March we achieved our first major step forward in our campaign on SRE (sex and relationships education). The Government committed to ensuring SRE is delivered by September 2019 in all schools in England: primaries, secondaries, academies, state-maintained, free schools and even private schools. Read our full reaction to the news.

Our work is far from over but this is a huge leap forward. Over the coming months we will be working hard to ensure that the Government guidance is updating including ensuring that it is LGBT-inclusive as well as having a major emphasis on sexual health, among other things.

We will of course let you know what specific action you can take in the future.

Thanks again for all of your support – this landmark decision couldn’t have happened without you, our supporters.

Our SRE report

Our ‘SRE: Shh… No Talking’ report [PDF], published in July 2016, highlighted that sex and relationships education (SRE) is inadequate or absent in many schools. The report was published following a survey of over 900 young people aged 16-24 and it revealed that:

  • 99 per cent of young people surveyed thought SRE should be mandatory in all schools
  • 97 per cent thought it should be LGBT inclusive
  • one in seven respondents had not received any SRE at all
  • over half (61 per cent) received SRE just once a year or less
  • half of young people rated the SRE they received in school as either ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’
  • just 2 per cent rated it as ‘excellent’ and only 10 per cent rated it as ‘good’
  • 95 per cent were not taught about LGBT relationships

Meanwhile, several key topics were conspicuously absent from respondents’ experiences of SRE:

  • 75 per cent of young people were not taught about consent
  • 95 per cent had not learned about LGBT sex and relationships
  • 89 per cent were not taught about sex and pleasure
  • 97 per cent missed out on any discussion around gender identity
  • three out of five respondents either didn’t remember receiving information on HIV in school (32 per cent) or didn’t receive information on HIV in school (27 per cent)

We collaborate with other organisations when campaigning on SRE. Terrence Higgins Trust is a member of the Sex Education Forum (SEF) who work together with its members and other stakeholders to achieve quality SRE. Established in 1987, SEF believe that all children and young people have the right to good SRE. SEF’s work on SRE is underpinned by evidence, a rights-based approach and the expressed needs of children and young people.

Background on the need for SRE

SRE prepares children and young people for the physical, social and emotional changes they are going to face. We believe all children and young people deserve high quality, comprehensive, age-appropriate, LGBT-inclusive SRE.


  • improves young people’s sexual health
  • delays sexual activity
  • reduces the number of people students have sex with
  • increases use of condoms and other contraceptives.

Making sure young people have SRE lessons is only part of the picture. For SRE to be effective it has to be of high quality. Teachers should have access to good training and support as part of their Initial Teacher Training and Continuing Professional Development.

Now that SRE is to be made compulsory, we would like to see current teachers given the proper training and support they require, or for schools to work with external specialist organisations such as ourselves and Brook. As well as this, the Government guidance, which is now 17 years out of date, and which Government has committed to updating, needs to be done properly and to include LGBT relationships as well as sexual health.



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