WHITTON, UK, September 28, 2011 ( – Primary schools in many jurisdictions in the UK are being required to teach sex-ed if they wish to be recognized by the country’s Healthy Schools Programme, according to the findings of a national educational trust. The problem, the group says, is that the program is often used to impose a “liberal and permissive type of sex education” that schools would have good reason to object to.

“It is very concerning to find some local authorities insisting that primary schools teach sex and relationships education as a condition of receiving the Healthy Schools award,” said Family Education Trust (FET) director Norman Wells.

“Primary schools that make a principled decision not to teach sex education should not be stigmatised and denied a sought-after award for that reason. There is nothing inherently ‘unhealthy’ about a primary school that decides not to teach sex education.”

The National Healthy Schools Programme was launched in 1999 under Tony Blair’s Labour government with the ostensible aim of supporting schools to become healthier places for staff and students to work and learn.

Prior to conducting their study, Family Education Trust (FET), an organization that researches the causes and consequences of family breakdown, says it had received anecdotal reports from a few UK primary schools that were told by local authorities that in order to qualify for the “Healthy Schools” designation, they must provide sex education beyond the requirements of the curriculum.

FET also heard that some secondary schools had been warned that failure to refer students to contraceptive and sexual health clinics would disqualify them from the designation.

These claims were investigated by FET, who wrote to all 152 local authorities in England and asked them by what criteria they designate a school to be healthy.

The FET says that what their investigation discovered was the promotion of an “unhealthy confusion.”

While agencies that instruct students on the use of condoms were “welcomed without qualification in secondary schools,” some local authorities “expressed caution regarding agencies that emphasised the benefits of saving sex for marriage and addressed the limitations of condoms as a means of protection against sexually transmitted infections.”

The report also found that some local authorities used the Healthy Schools Award initiative to impede pro-marriage and family agencies from teaching within schools the benefits of saving sex for marriage. In such cases, such a viewpoint could only be taught if it were “balanced” by other options or viewpoints.

This “balanced viewpoint” criteria did not apply, however, to external agencies who taught about and promoted condom use.

It was “deeply disturbing to find so much confusion and ignorance among local authorities about the extent to which condoms provide protection against sexually transmitted infections,” said Wells.

Wells says he also uncovered the fact that some local authorities considered it “inappropriate” to inform students of the limitations of condom effectiveness.

“Such a policy runs the risk of placing some pupils at increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection where they decide to embark on a sexual relationship on the basis of a false understanding that they will be safe provided they use a condom,” said Wells in a press release about the outcome of the study.

The FET report comes at a time when UK’s coalition government is considering its policy on sex education as part of its review of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education in schools.

The Family Education Trust says it would like to see local authorities become less “prescriptive” when it comes to sex education and to recognize that while schools have a role to play in determining their policy on sex education on a local level, this must be done in tandem with parental consultation.

“It is ironic that in some local authority areas, the Healthy Schools Programme is undermining the healthiest messages of all and depriving young people of learning about the physical, emotional and social benefits of keeping sex within a lifelong, mutually faithful marriage,” said Wells.


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