Commenting on the NSPCC Childline Annual Review published today (Friday 15 November 2019), revealing that Childline counsels a rising number of children about sexual exploitation, and calling for teacher training on new Relationships, Sex and Health Education, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“Young people need to be taught about healthy relationships, consent, and how to keep themselves safe, in an age appropriate way, before they start to go looking for answers. Otherwise, as is the case now, too many of them will get bad and even harmful information from the internet or from their peers.
“It is absolutely right that the government has made lessons on sex, relationships and health compulsory for all Secondary schools. The next step is to make sure that teachers are confident and know they have the right skills to teach this content effectively. Parents too, will want to be very sure that the lessons their children are given are of a high-quality, are pitched at the right level and have the right people teaching them.
“It is crucial that the government provides teachers with sufficient training and resources, well before they have to start teaching the new curriculum, to give all schools enough time to prepare the best lessons. This really is too important a subject to get wrong.
“Additionally, it is vital that appropriate resources are available to schools and to children to support them when specialist help is needed. At the moment, support services for children and families are wildly underfunded, from mental health services to child protective services to the police. Schools alone cannot be held entirely responsible for children’s safety and wellbeing; every area of society must play its part. Any new government must commit to ensuring schools can access timely and effective support from the services that children and families rely on.”
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