Skip to navigation

press releases

Select Topic:

Select Year:

Select Month:

Select Nation:

UK map

Sex and relationships education will be compulsory in England, Government announces

Release Date: 01 Mar 2017

Barnardo’s is delighted the Government has announced plans for all schools to teach age-appropriate sex and relationship education from age four.

The plan will see 'relationship and sex education' taught in every primary and secondary school in England, including academies, independents and even religious free schools.

This comes after a long campaign by Barnardo's on the issue, and children themselves have also been demanding such lessons to be compulsory.

The Education Secretary Justine Greening announced the move in a written statement today (March 1).

In research carried out for us by YouGov, seven in 10 children in England said they think the government should ensure all children have school lessons on sex and relationships.

More than 9 in 10 children surveyed online (96%) said it was important for them to understand the dangers of being online so they can stay safe.

While 94 per cent said they wanted to know the risks of sharing images of themselves with a stranger online.

Three quarters (74%) believe all children would be safer if they had age-appropriate classes on the subject according to the poll of nearly 1,000 youngsters, aged 11 to 15.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

We are thrilled the Government has listened to our campaign to provide all school children with age-appropriate school lessons on sex and healthy relationships to help keep them safe.

Barnardo’s has long campaigned for this vital education so children can better understand the dangers in the real world and online. We believe this will give children the knowledge and skills they need to help prevent them being groomed and sexually exploited .

And Barnardo's Ambassador and former Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts called the announcement 'amazing news'.

She said:

It’s amazing news that the Government has recognised the need to give all children age-appropriate lessons on sex and relationships to help keep them safe.

I’ve backed both Barnardos and the PSHE associations campaigns to introduce this compulsory education as I believe it will help children better understand the digital dangers out there, including the risks around sexting.


•All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,167 children aged 11-15, of which 994 were in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th December 2016 - 3rd January 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of GB children aged 11-15.

•87 % of parents think age appropriate school lessons on healthy relationships would help their child understand sexual behaviour and keep them safer. While 90% of parents believe sexting is harmful and leaves their children vulnerable to sexual grooming only 40% of parents have restrictions on their children’s internet devices in the home. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc for Barnardo’s.  Total sample size was 436 parents with children aged between 11 and 16 years old. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 6th July 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB parents (aged 18+).

•Barnardo’s has 40 child sexual exploitation (CSE) services working in over 40 locations and in 2015/16 we worked with 2,486 people (young people and family members). Throughout services, staff work under the ‘4 As’ principles - attention, advocacy, assertive outreach and access – and provide time, unlimited support to enable a young person to exit the abuse and recover.

•Child sexual exploitation, CSE, is a serious form of child abuse affecting children and young people from all backgrounds and communities across the UK. It happens when a boy or girl is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something, including gifts, cigarettes, or simply attention and affection. Once the abuser has gained the trust of the victim they start controlling and manipulating them, sometimes using force, alcohol and other illegal substances. Victims may mistakenly believe they are in a relationship and don’t realise they have, or are being groomed into having sex with one or more abuser.

« Back to press releases