Methodist Church welcomes compulsory education in schools about sex and relationships

The Methodist Church has welcomed the Government'sdecision to make education in schools about sex and relationshipscompulsory for children of all ages.

MP Jim Knight, Minister for Schools, was met with loud applausefrom delegates when he made the announcement at Methodist CentralHall in Westminster today.

Sandy Youngson, a drugs and sexual health trainer and MethodistChurch representative who sat on the review board that advised thegovernment, said he was delighted at the decision. 'I think this isa positive and exciting move,' he said. 'It puts the importance ofrelationships and sexual health education into a framework that canbe supported and managed. It gives teachers clarity about what theyteach in schools and assurance to parents that what is being taughtis age appropriate.'

The change in the law will mean that all school children aged fiveto 16 will receive personal, social and health education coveringdrug and alcohol misuse, healthy living, sex and emotionaleducation. It is hoped that the new curriculum will be ready bySeptember 2010.

Sandy said: 'We are not talking about teaching six andseven-year-olds the Kama Sutra. The Methodist Church wants tosupport young people to develop as a whole. We live in anincreasingly sexualized society. We are not trying to encouragethat, but prepare young people for that reality, prepare them forthe wonderful side of relationships and reduce risks.

'Just talking about sex does not increase the chances of somebodydoing it; in fact, it is the opposite. There is evidence that goodquality education about sex and relationships, covering a widerange of topics, in fact delays a young person's first sexualencounter. At some point in most people's lives they will becomesexually active, and preparing them for it on the basis of having agood understanding of relationships is a good way of supportingyoung people.'

Graham Russell, chief executive of Methodist Schools, said: 'It isnecessary to prepare young people to confront the problems theywill encounter in the modern world: ignorance will provide nodefence at all.'