SREnow Campaign

Who Agrees?

There is enormous support for Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) from diverse groups of stakeholders. 
Polls have found that 86% of UK adults92% of parents  and 99% of young people  support it. It is also strongly supported by teaching unionscross-party MPswomen’s groups  and other charities .  

Supporters of the #SREnow campaign

Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Women's Aid

“If we are ever to prevent domestic abuse, we must recognise that its roots are in inequality between men and women and the gender roles that are accepted and promoted everywhere we look. Violence against women and girls is rooted in misogyny; education is vital in order to unpick these attitudes and challenge our victim-blaming culture.

To challenge this, and to help young people to be safe and to understand their own experiences, it is essential that schools provide high-quality education on healthy relationships – including relationships both online and offline. Without this, we will continue to fight a losing battle against violence against women and girls. Women’s Aid runs Safer Futures, a national project that builds networks between local schools, specialist domestic abuse services and Local Authorities to ensure that healthy relationships education is delivered responsibly and effectively. In addition, our federation of around 220 local specialist domestic abuse organisations has a wealth of experience in supporting schools to deliver sex and relationship education, backed up with support for children and young people who are experiencing abuse themselves, or who are living in homes where abuse is taking place. This whole-school approach is essential. There is some great work happening at local level, but it isn’t enough - and many children and young people are missing out. We need the government to make this a national priority – and act as a matter of urgency."

Marai Larasi, Executive Director, Imkaan

"At Imkaan, we want to see compulsory SRE and we want this to be a Government priority. However, we do not want this to be a quick add-on in our schools. SRE should be part of a broader package of work which ensures that schools are safe environments for all children and young people, and places where learning is not inhibited by sexual and other bullying. If girls are being sexually harassed in our schools, then we are failing to protect them from harm, and we are fostering a culture that disrupts their education. 

We know from our work at Imkaan, that  black and ‘minority ethnic’ girls and young women can be targeted for sexual harassment in ways that are racialised. So we also want SRE to be  delivered in ways that are appropriate, effective, and responsive to the realities of young people’s lives. Programmes  need to have a clear analysis of gender and other intersecting factor such as ‘race’, sexuality, class and disability. We cannot simply teach respect without recognising the different ways that some groups are disrespected."

Mumsnet  Co-founder Justine Roberts:

“Mumsnet users are clear: they want comprehensive, compulsory sex and relationships education, and as children get older they want it to address topics like pornography, sexting, sexual violence, and meaningful consent. Both boys and girls can be vulnerable to peer pressure and abuse, and good SRE helps them to recognise the building blocks of healthy, happy relationships. Mumsnet has long called for SRE to be updated to reflect the internet age - and for teachers to be supported in delivering it - and we're delighted to be backing this important campaign.”

Anti-FGM campaigner and educator Hibo Wardere

"This is about respect for your body and respect for others too. It's all about young people learning about their bodies and what damage can be caused by misusing or not understanding their own bodies. They also need to learn about sex because in some communities even periods are not discussed let alone sex. Children find out about sex in the wrong way and about how women should be treated too. These lessons must be delivered so that they are equipped with knowledge of what can damage them and how to protect themselves. These are life lessons that will protect them from sexually transmitted diseases and teach them how to treat women and girls with respect."

Writer and journalist Caitlin Moran:

“As Marianne Wright-Eldman said, You cannot be what you cannot see. If our children are not learning at school about love, and relationships, and how sex can be something other than the cold, unhappy, stunt-pornography being watched on a million mobile phones at the back of the bus, then how else will it come into their lives? Currently we leave this vital information to chance, or the lucky circumstances of a child's supportive and enlightened family. This clearly isn't fair - and it impacts on the children who would need this information the most.”

19 year old campaigner Yas Necati:

“Having just finished school, I know firsthand just how useless our SRE currently is. Learning about biology and STIs is important stuff, but we can't forget the social side of sex. The curriculum seems to completely ignore the ‘R’ in SRE, leaving information about relationships completely untouched. Meanwhile, sexual abuse is rising amongst young people, and false ideas about sex from the media and online sources are becoming more available than ever. We need to challenge the sex negative culture we've created, and we need schools to help us do this. Please don't leave my generation uninformed. We deserve better.”

If you would like to add your name or organisation to our list of supporters please get in touch!

Signatories of our OPEN LETTER calling for compulsory SRE

Adwoa Kwateng-Kluvitse, Head of Global Advocacy and Partnerships, FORWARD
Allison Burden, Programme Director, Equality Now
Bridget Christie, comedian
Brook, the young people's sexual health & wellbeing charity
Bryony Beynon, Co-Founder, Hollaback London
Caitlin Moran, author and columnist
Charlotte Gage, Bristol Zero Tolerance
Chris Green, Founder, White Ribbon Campaign UK
Cullagh Warnock, Regional Co-ordinator, North East End Violence Against Women and Girls (NEEVAWG) Network 
David Brockway, Project Manager, The GREAT Initiative
Dawn Thomas & Dianne Whitfield, Co-Chairs, Rape Crisis England & Wales
Donna Covey CBE, Director, AVA (Against Violence and Abuse)
Dr Ellie Cosgrave, Dr Heather Williams, Dr Anna Zecharia, Directors, ScienceGrrl 
Dr Emma Williamson, Head, Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol
Dr Heather Savigny, Associate Professor Gender & Politics, Bournemouth University
Dr Helen Mott, Bristol Fawcett and The Bristol Ideal
Dr Helen Pankhurst
Dr Mike Peirce MBE, Chief Officer, Southmead Project
Dr Rachel Fenton, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of the West of England
Dr Sue Black OBE, author, computer scientist and acadmic
Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director, The Sunday Times and Chair, Women in Journalism
Fee Scott, CEO, Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services
Girlguiding advocates
Hanna Naima McCloskey, Founder & CEO, Fearless Futures
Hareem Ghani, Women’s Officer, National Union of Students
Hibo Wardere, anti-FGM campaigner
Jo Todd, CEO, Respect
Julie Bentley, CEO of Girlguiding UK
June Eric-Udorie, writer and feminist activist
Justine Roberts, Founder, Mumsnet
Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive, nia
Louise Williams, Service Director, Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre
Martyn Terry Sullivan, CEO, Mankind 
Melanie Jeffs, Manager, Nottingham Women's Centre
Melissa Benn, writer and campaigner
Nicole Jacobs, CEO, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence
Nimco Ali, anti-FGM campaigner
Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service 
Pavan Amara, Founder, My Body Back Project
Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Women’s Aid
Professor Liz Kelly, Roddick Chair, Child & Woman Abuse Unit, London Metropolitan University 
Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE, London School of Economics and Political Science
Professor Tanya Byron, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Rachael Curzons, COO, Fearless Futures
Rachel Nye, Rebecca Bunce & Robyn Boosey, Co-directors, IC Change Campaign 
Rebecca Collins, Executive Director, The GREAT Initiative
Rebecca Ryce, National Director, Sexpression:UK
Rowan Miller, Director; Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive, Fawcett Society
Sandie Dunn, Trustee, End Violence Against Women Coalition
Sian Webb, Bristol Women’s Voice
Sophie Bennett, Co-Director, UK Feminista
Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Vivienne Hayes MBE, CEO, Women's Resource Centre
Winnie M Li, Author & Co-Founder, Clear Lines Festival
Yas Necati, Editor, Powered By Girl and activist
Yvonne Traynor, CEO, Rape Crisis South London

Here’s what other stakeholders say:

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of The National Union of Teachers :

“All children and young people in state funded schools deserve an entitlement to Personal, Social, Health and Economic education, including Sex and Relationships Education. Comprehensive Sex and Relationships Education is fundamental to the future health and well-being of pupils and our society as a whole.  We need to get this right and act decisively if we are to deliver an adequate entitlement to all children and young people.
 “Making PSHE statutory is the key to raising its status and improving provision. At present PSHE has too little time in the curriculum, and is almost always accorded very low status and few resources in schools. It is high time for Ministers to provide schools with the space and the resources to give all pupils the high quality PSHE they need including sufficient funding for training and specialist staff being made available to schools.”

Read more here

Pupils from the Campaign4Consent

(Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault)

“I’m 15, and I’m really disappointed in how sex education is taught in schools. I had these lessons last year, and I’m due to have them again this year, but I see no mention of LGBT issues or what consent means. As a victim of sexual harassment, I find it very important that young people are taught not only how to say no, but also how to respond if someone else says it.”

“I fully support Campaign4Consent because I think it’s important for young people to be informed of sex, and not to be afraid of saying they don’t want to. Some people may be embarrassed to talk about queries they have about sex, and end up doing something which they feel really uncomfortable with. Even though adults say, ‘It’s a natural thing, you can talk about it’, realistically it’s quite private and can be embarrassing to ask/talk about it.”

“The campaign 4 consent is very important because boys and girls need to be taught about consent and the exact definitions of sexual assault, serious sexual assault and rape due to the confusing messages about sex that they get from things such as pornography, films. There is a sexual violence epidemic in the UK; according to UK Feminista a third of teenage girls experience sexual violence from a boyfriend. The best way to prevent this violence would be to educate the youth about consent and exactly what sexual violence is so that more of them have healthy sexual relationships. […] As a survivor of 6 serious sexual assaults and one attempted rape as well as 2 occasions of indecent and sexual assault, I know all too well how important it is that we teach boys and girls about consent. As a result of the fact that I was never taught about consent and the exact definitions of sexual assault and serious sexual assault, as well as what healthy relationships are like, the first time it happened to me at 17 I did not realise that I had been taken advantage of whilst drunk. Unfortunately, as I did not realise until much later that I was assaulted, and was in denial for a long time about what happened, I thought it was okay for men to touch me, kiss me and have dry sex without my consent. Later, this turned into me thinking that it was fine for men to penetrate me with their fingers without my consent after I had been seriously sexually assaulted once and to coerce me into sexual acts. I thought that this was all okay behaviour even if I felt uncomfortable about it and admitted to myself that I had been taken advantage of; I never labelled it sexual assault. […] I strongly believe that if I had been taught about consent within a “Yes means yes” framework and had been taught the exact definitions of sexual assault and serious sexual assault it is much more likely that I would have reported to the police the people who did this to me, and I could have got counselling and help much sooner.”

Read more here  (this is an extract)

Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria & Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners: 

“Taught well, PSHE would give children who are victims of abuse the education to judge earlier that it is wrong and develop the confidence to report. Authoritative reports into abuse in Oxford and Rotherham both concluded that good-quality PSHE keeps children safe, and polls suggest overwhelming parental support for it to be taught in schools. Since 2010 the Commons education and home affairs committees have supported the proposal, as have the chairs of the committees for women and equalities, health , and business, innovation and skills. The children’s commissioner is strongly in favour, as is the chief medical officer, the Labour front bench, two royal societies, six medical royal colleges, all the teaching unions and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.”

Read more here  (this is an extract)

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas: 

“A step forward is long overdue. It’s time to shake the sand from our ears, take a collective breath, and check our classroom compass. Contrary to the panic-inducing media headlines, young people today are generally drinking less, smoking less, and getting pregnant less. But they are tasked with navigating a landscape far more complex and challenging than any we’ve known. Their digital sphere – bursting with opportunities as it is – has a dark side. Online porn is daily bread and there’s enormous pressure to publish all that was once private. Recent international research by the University of Bristol shows that almost half of 13-17 year old girls being coerced into sex acts and are sending and receiving sexual images. […] The importance of ensuring every child has access to education around sex, health and relationships – as well as teaching on everything from life-saving CPR to how to be responsible with money – can barely be overstated. PSHE is about more than sex ed - it's about relationships, respect and responsibilities. It’s about age-appropriate, fit-for-purpose, whole person education and it’s more important than ever.   […] We must equip our kids them with the tools they need for life - keeping them ignorant puts them at risk. Our children deserve the very best education. And our teachers deserve the very best support in giving it to them. But as long as PSHE remains a non-statutory subject, with a low priority in the Ofsted framework, there’ll be virtually no coverage of it in teacher training. In school, PSHE teachers are not given the curriculum time, training or resources they need. Lessons which help keep young people safe, healthy and happy shouldn’t be an optional ‘bolt on’ or a postcode lottery. Where good PSHE teaching happens, the benefits shine through.”

Read more here  (this is an extract)

Labour Party MP Yvette Cooper:

“Developing respect among young people, for each other and for themselves, is vital. No one wants to see a society in which young boys grow up with the mistaken belief that it is more 'masculine' to bully or sexually abuse. No one wants young girls growing up believing that abuse is normal, or that they have to accept sexual coercion or violence in a relationship. The respect and resilience teenagers develop today can help prevent violence and abusive relationships for decades to come and sex and relationships education has a vital role to play.
Further, the digital age means that violent, abusive, sexual images are only ever a few clicks away, and being exposed to these can have a profound effect on young people's understanding of sex and relationships. From sexually explicit text messages, to violent threats and online bullying via social media, young people today have a different world to navigate than previous generations.”

Read more here  (this is an extract)

Conservative Party MP Maria Miller, Chair of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee:

“I have been very open that I felt that sex and relationship education should be something that is determined by a school. But I think as we move in to this online world the very real dangers and problems that children are encountering, I think, has certainly changed my views on the need to make that compulsory. […] We need to see a change in culture, and that change in culture should be around consent, respect and dignity and that needs to be at the heart of a compulsorily delivered sex and relationship education in all of our schools.”

Read more here  (this is an extract)

Sam Dick, Director of Campaigns at Stonewall: 

“We know that far too many LGBT people are leaving school not having received any information or advice on how to lead healthy or safe lives, which means they are perhaps engaging in risk-taking behaviour – such as unprotected sex… Stonewall believes schools have a responsibility to ensure young people are getting the information they need to lead healthy lives. And having worked with a number of schools over the last eight to ten years, we know one of the best ways to do that is to make sure pupils have access to inclusive PHSE sex and relationships education. […] It is about making sure young people who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity see in their schools that LGBT people exist and lead happy and health lives… We know schools have to discuss biological aspects of sex, but it is often irrelevant to LGBT people – there is no use, purpose or benefit for us to be told about sexual relationships they are not going to have. […] Over half of LGBT pupils are still experiencing homophobic bullying in school and often that's because teachers feel ill-equipped to address it, not because they don't want to. More needs to be done to ensure all teachers receive training on how to tackle homophobic bullying and language, and to make sure all teachers have access to age-appropriate training to tackle bullying."

Read more here  (this is an extract)

Lucy Emmerson, Coordinator of the Sex Education Forum:

“The odds of a young person learning vital information about equal, safe and enjoyable relationships are no different than the toss of a coin. The ultimate consequence of this is that many children don’t know how to recognise abusive behaviour or how to seek help. 

With evidence about the benefits for children and young people of teaching SRE stacked up high and a growing list of politicians calling for the subject to be mandatory, there is no excuse for Government to continue leaving SRE to chance.” 

Read more here  

The Terrence Higgins Trust:

“We believe SRE should be part of the statutory national curriculum, as part of a broader programme of PSHE. We will continue to fight for this, even though the current government do not want to deliver on it. It is crucial that we don’t fail our current and future generations of young people. Sadly, at the moment we are failing them. Making sure young people have SRE lessons is only part of the picture. For SRE to be effective it has to be of high quality. Teachers should have access to good training and support as part of their Initial Teacher Training and Continuing Professional Development.”

Read more here  (this is an extract)