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David Cameron calls for update to sex and relationships education guidance

Prime Minister David Cameron has again called for a supplemental update to the sex and relationship education (SRE) guidance in order to better deal with issues that have arisen since the current guidance was produced in 2000. The call, which echoes comments Mr Cameron first made in September last year, and similar comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, puts further pressure on Education Secretary Michael Gove to listen and take action. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the comments.

Speaking yesterday to the House of Commons Liaison Committee, Mr Cameron said ‘I think we can do better in terms of sex and relationship education. All sex education, in my view, must have healthy relationships at its heart—it does now—and I think we can add into the guidance that is produced better guidance on, for instance, the modern problems of cyber-bullying and sexting. We need to deal with that.

However, he also said ‘if you are asking me whether I want to open up the whole of sex and relationship education and have a mega-debate about every single aspect of it, I am not sure. I think we would then get immediately into all the theocratic arguments between left and right, localist and centralist, abortion and all the rest of it. As a practical person, I would rather add some sensible bits of work to what we have, and I think we can work with some of the charities on this, rather than open up the whole Pandora’s box.’

The current guidance not only pre-dates issues such as sexting and cyber bullying, but also the widespread availability of internet porn; the repeal of section 28; the legalisation of civil partnerships; and, soon, the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The out of date guidance was identified as a potential cause of schools still having section 28-like SRE policies when the BHA identified 46 such schools last August.

BHA Education Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We welcome David Cameron’s comments that the SRE guidance needs updating, either with new guidance or through a supplement – something that should have happened years ago. We urge Michael Gove to listen to his boss and work with sex and relationships education campaigners to produce a new document.’


For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Education Campaigns Officer, at or on 020 7324 3072.

Read Mr Cameron’s comments:

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on PSHE and Sex and Relationships Education:

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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