New report from CLE shows that teachers need more help to deliver sex and relationships education

Published: Tuesday 11th July 2017

New research undertaken by charity Coram Life Education (CLE) and specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical, has revealed that teachers need more help to deliver sex and relationships education.

The findings reveal that:

  • The biggest issue schools said they face is friendship issues (83%) and while the majority are confident teaching about friendships and family, they want more support to teach puberty, reproduction and feelings, and staying safe and consent
  • Two thirds of schools say they need more guidance on statutory requirements
  • One in three primary schools need more help with identifying children’s needs in relation to Sex and Relationships Education (SRE)
  • Three quarters say they need more advice on consulting parents about SRE.

The research comprised a survey and focus groups conducted amongst 85 head teachers, PSHE co-ordinators and teachers responsible for teaching SRE throughout the UK.

As one teacher commented: “I’d like an easy and fun way of teaching this sensitive area.  SRE is embarrassing for the children. I’d like plans and resources that are easily accessible and easy to follow and teach.”

The report launches on July 11 at the House of Lords and the findings will inform a new Relationships Education programme being developed by CLE and funded by Ecclesiastical. This will help schools prepare for when SRE becomes statutory in all primary and secondary schools from 2019 and address the issues they identify.

CLE and Ecclesiastical’s new Relationships Education programme will comprise lesson plans, activities and teacher and parent guidance, aligned with recommended content set by the Department for Education.  It will be available this year to 200,000 children nationally at schools already working with Coram and will be accessible to all schools by means of the new CLE direct platform, SCARF from 1st September. 

CLE SRE research findings

Harriet Gill, Managing Director of Coram’s education programmes, said: “Only four years ago, Ofsted stated that primary schools were ‘leaving pupils ill-prepared for physical and emotional changes during puberty often experienced before children reach secondary school*. We believe this programme is an important step forward in meeting children and young people's needs, and entitlement, to education in healthy friendships and relationships, puberty and reproduction, staying safe and consent.”

Chris Pitt, corporate responsibility manager at specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical, said: “Our own research with educational establishments** showed that 69% are concerned about the mental health of pupils, with 80% saying issues are becoming more prevalent and three quarters saying that these issues hinder future success. That’s why we, as a specialist schools and charities insurer, are so proud to support this project, which will improve children’s mental wellbeing, resilience and life chances, as well as provide schools with the additional support they have told us they need.”

Kim Johnson, President of National Association of Head Teachers said: "The report highlights the key issues for ensuring children and young adults receive the very best relationships and sex education from well trained, qualified and resourced teachers. I congratulate Coram Life Education for their work in looking to ensure that every child and young adult has the right preparation for happy, healthy and appropriate relationships in their future life."

Useful links

Read the full report 

Find out more about Coram Life Education

*Not yet good enough: personal, social, health and economic education in schools 2012, (Ofsted, 2013).

**This research was conducted by FWD research on behalf of Ecclesiastical Insurance. 121 education establishments were contacted and interviewed by telephone between November and December 2016.