After months of campaigning, the Sex Education Forum - hosted by leading children's charity the National Children's Bureau - is celebrating a victory with puberty clearly included in the primary science curriculum published by the Government. However, there is no further clarification about teaching children the correct names for sexual parts of the body, so the latest version of the National Curriculum is a mixed picture.
Lucy Emmerson, Coordinator of the Sex Education Forum said:"Including puberty in Year 5 means that children have a better chance of learning about changes to their bodies before they experience them: this is a real step forward.
"We are also really pleased that the new National Curriculum documents explain that 'sex andrelationshipeducation' is a requirement for all state secondary schools. The addition of relationships is crucial, as it indicates a widening of the subject beyond biological matters to cover other important issues such as consent, appropriate behaviour and dealing with emotions.
"National Curriculum science remains the only compulsory sex education teaching for primary schools so failing to teach the correct names for sexual parts of the bodyis a safeguarding issue because it leaves children without the words to describe their bodies.There is also no unequivocal statement that pupils should learn about human conception and birth before the end of year 6 when they transfer to secondary school".
"A further disappointment is the removal of sexual health and adolescence from Key Stage 3, and the advice that learning about the structure and function of the male and female reproductive system and menstrual cycle should be 'without details of hormones'. This makes it impossible to explain the science behind contraception and fertility. It is also worrying that secondary schools have a separate legal obligation to teach about STIs and HIV, but there is no link with the content of science now that sexual health has been removed."
"The overall picture is muddling and will leave teachers wary of what questions they can and can't answer. We will therefore continue to campaign for a coherent curriculum that includes the essential underpinning scientific information about the body, puberty, human reproduction, fertility and sexual health."