The Sex Education Forum, hosted by leading children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau, has welcomed the addition of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV and AIDS to the revised draft National Curriculum for science (Key Stage 4) in secondary schools. This will help make it clear to schools that every pupil must leave secondary school equipped with knowledge about STIs and specifically about HIV and AIDS.
However, the Sex Education Forum warns that learning about STIs must not be left to the final years of secondary school. The teaching will only be effective if it builds on earlier learning about how our bodies work and crucially about relationships. Having sex and relationships education (SRE) in every year of school helps children build up the understanding needed for good sexual health and ensures that children learn about stigma and challenging prejudice, as well as the biological aspects of the transmission, prevention and treatment of STIs including HIV.
The Chair of the Sex Education Forum, Jane Lees, commented: “The curriculum for Key Stage 4 science proposed earlier this year had no reference to sexual health, HIV or AIDS. It is very encouraging that calls from the Sex Education Forum and others have been heeded and the Department for Education has made this important change. Our survey with young people showed that one in four had not learnt anything about this topic at school. There is an urgent need to remedy this situation and this move by the Department for Education will help. We will continue to campaign for action to make the broader subject of SRE statutory in all schools.”