https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/12/19/education-in-the-media-19-december/

Education in the media: 19 December

Today’s news review responds to speculation over the weekend about sex and relationship education (SRE) in schools, as well as looking at further coverage about the government’s proposals to lift the ban on grammar schools.

SRE in schools

Yesterday, 18 December, the Sunday Times claimed that the Department for Education is planning to make sex and relationship education (SRE) compulsory in all schools. It also stated that this would be legislated through amendments in the Children and Social Work Bill, and that we would remove the right for parents to opt out of these lessons.

This is inaccurate. We have always been clear that we are actively looking at options to make sure that all children have access to high-quality teaching in this area but no decision has been made. As the Education Secretary Justine Greening has previously stated, it is also not as simple as making sex education mandatory. There is a quality issue in how this education is delivered, making sure that it is delivers on the right priorities and prepares young people for adult life.

The story was followed up in The Times, the i, Daily Mail and The Sun.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

High-quality education on sex and relationships is a vital part of preparing young people for success in adult life - helping them make informed choices, stay safe and learn to respect themselves and others.

 

Education on sex and relationships is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools, and many academies and free schools teach it as part of the curriculum. However, we are actively looking at options to ensure that all children have access to high-quality teaching of these subjects.

Grammar schools

There has been further coverage over the weekend about the government’s proposals to lift the ban on grammar schools.

Today, 19 December, the i newspaper speculated about whether the first new grammar schools could open before the next general election in 2020. The paper, along with BBC Online and Huffington Post, also reported on a study by the Royal Society claiming that the poorest pupils in selective areas do worse in STEM subjects.

The government consultation which included proposals on lifting the ban on grammar schools – Schools that Work for Everyone – closed on Monday 12 December and we are carefully considering all contributions. It is far too early to speculate about possible future timelines.

On the Royal Society report, we know that grammar schools have a track record of closing the attainment gap to almost zero between children on free school meals and their better off classmates. It is also important to recognise that we are raising standards in maths and science for all pupils. This includes a £12.1 million investment over the next three years to improve the quality of STEM teaching in schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Our proposals are about creating more choice, with more good school places for more parents in more parts of the country. Grammar schools have a track record of closing the attainment gap, so we want to lift the ban on new grammars, and harness the resources and expertise of universities, faith schools and independent schools. We will now consider contributions and will respond in due course.

 

We are also raising standards in mathematics and science for all pupils. We have introduced rigorous new qualifications and in science we are investing £12.1 million over the next three years to improve the quality of teaching in schools.

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