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Age appropriate sex education crucial to tackling harmful sexual behaviour, says NAHT

Responding to a consultation by Barnardo’s on support and sanctions for children who display harmful sexual behaviour, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “It is important to recognise the dual role which schools fulfil – dealing with incidents of negative behaviour which occur, but also proactively seeking to prevent such behaviours from happening.

“In our submission to the inquiry, we have again reiterated our call for age appropriate Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) for all pupils in all schools. Furthermore, school leaders need dedicated curriculum time for PSHE in order that pupils have the opportunity to learn about and discuss issues including online safety, positive relationships, consent, sexting and pornography.

“Schools also need the right support. The government must assist schools in the procurement of online filtering and monitoring systems, reducing costs for schools whilst ensuring an appropriate level of safeguarding for pupils. Schools need high quality resources, information and guidance on relevant issues. A centralised reference point for all schools to access up to date and recommended resources would support teaching, learning and safeguarding.

“Schools have a vital role in dealing with, reducing and preventing harmful and concerning sexual behaviours amongst children and young people. However, they are only one component of a wide range of people and agencies who also have a responsibility; government, health, social care, police and parents all have a significant contribution to make.”

James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, says: “The government needs to look at the issue of training. High quality, funded training must be made available to teachers to develop their knowledge, understanding and confidence in teaching pupils about these issues. This is a particular issue for pastoral leads, who will have to help those affected by harmful behaviour, but who also play a crucial role in preventing such behaviour in the first place.”

Page Published: 13/04/2016

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David Boot
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