A Select Committee recommendation to make sex education compulsory in schools was rejected by the government earlier this month leading to anger and confusion.
However, according to an article by Channel 4 News presenter, Cathy Newman, in the Telegraph, the decision was only reluctantly made by the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, after the Prime Minister ignored her pleas to reconsider.
Reputedly Morgan was not alone in her appeals to the PM. According to Newman, the Education Secretary was supported by senior female cabinet colleagues including: Justine Greening, Anna Soubry, and even Home Secretary Theresa May.
In a statement, the government said that it did not feel that making compulsory sex education would appropriately solve the issues raised. However, it has been speculated that David Cameron did not want to detract from the party line pushing for a greater emphasis on the core subjects.
Responding to a letter signed by four chairs of Select Committees, the Education Secretary said:
“Every state-funded school in England must offer a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.”
“In doing so, we expect schools to make provision for personal, social, health, and economic education (PSHE)”
However, Morgan adds that, while the government agrees that sex education is “a crucial part of preparing young people for life,” they were concerned that the advocated changes “would do little to tackle the most pressing problems with the subject”.
Amongst the most serious of the problems raised by the Secretary was a recent Ofsted report which found that 40% of “PSHE teaching is less than good.”
Neil Carmichael, the Chair of the Education Select Committee, said that the government’s decision was “disappointing.” He also commented on the alleged disagreement between the PM and Nicky Morgan saying: “it is unclear why it should have taken the Government so long to publish such a feeble response.”