Primary schools ‘punished’ for resisting sex education

Primary schools in England are being penalised for resisting pressure to teach sex education to young children, a new report warns.

The report, published by the Family Education Trust, says some local authorities are withholding coveted “Healthy Schools” status from such schools.

Primary schools are under no legal obligation to teach sex education. The decision is left to each school’s board of governors after consultation with parents.


The report’s author, Norman Wells, said: “Primary schools that make a principled decision not to teach sex education should not be stigmatised and denied a sought-after award for that reason.

“There is nothing inherently ‘unhealthy’ about a primary school that decides not to teach sex education”, he commented.

The report disclosed that almost one in five local authorities said primary schools which do not teach sex education beyond the requirements of the science national curriculum could not qualify for Healthy Schools status.


In relation to secondary schools, the Family Education Trust found a “significant minority” of local authorities were more comfortable with schools inviting in external groups which taught about condom use than those which taught about delaying sex until marriage.

It also found that some local authorities said a school with a policy of not referring pupils to contraceptive and sexual health services would not be eligible for Healthy Schools status.

And while there was “widespread agreement” among local authorities that primary schools were not expected to refer children to services offering advice on contraception and sexual health, some did not rule it out entirely.

Indeed, one authority “went so far as to state that all primary schools were expected to have such arrangements in place”.

Mr Wells warned: “It is ironic that in some local authority areas, the Healthy Schools Programme is undermining the healthiest messages of all and depriving young people of learning about the physical, emotional and social benefits of keeping sex within a lifelong, mutually faithful marriage.”

Related Resources