Schools in Nottingham are being urged to sign up to a charter to ensure children are taught enough about sex and relationships.
The City council wants all schools to agree to a strategy on how the topic is taught, to ensure children are less vulnerable to exploitation.
Nottingham's City Council has produced a charter on sex education and is calling on all schools to sign up.
The authority's Sex and Relationships Educations (SRE) Charter outlines the requirements for life-long learning about the emotional, social and physical aspects of growing up and sexual health.
It calls for age-appropriate SRE for children at primary age right through to teenagers.
The aim of SRE is to give children and young people the skills they need to build positive and healthy relationships and stay safe, as well as offer factual information about the body, reproduction, sex and sexual health and online safety.
Some elements of SRE are covered within the science curriculum but outside of this, schools can choose what to deliver based on government guidance.
The Council's new charter encourages schools to view SRE as a key element of their work to safeguard pupils.
There are examples of good practice already in Nottingham but provision currently varies from school to school.
The Charter asks for three things:
- Sign up an complete an audit of current SRE provision
- Create an action plan and develop existing SRE
- Evaluate, assess and monitor progress - share good practice with others
Evidence suggests that young people who have had good SRE are more likely to wait before having sex for the first time and will use contraception when they do.
They are also less likely to have sex before the age of 16 or be diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted infection.
SRE has been linked to a reduction in teenage pregnancy rates, which in Nottingham have fallen almost 50% since 1998.
A lack of appropriate SRE may make youngsters more vulnerable to exploitation and inappropriate sexual behaviours because they have not developed the knowledge of what is right and wrong, or have the confidence to seek help.
Specialist officers at the council will be on hand to support schools with developing their policies and curriculum, while parents and carers will be encouraged to reinforce the messages at home.