Oliver inspires sex education series

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The Independent Online

Channel 4 is aiming to follow its success with Jamie's School Dinners by launching a similar campaign to improve sex education.

Channel 4 is aiming to follow its success with Jamie's School Dinners by launching a similar campaign to improve sex education.

In a public lecture to academics tonight, Heather Rabbatts, the channel's head of education, will reveal plans for "social action" programmes adopting a similar format to the Jamie Oliver series. The TV chef inspired a 270,000-strong petition to Downing Street demanding better school dinners which led to an extra £280m of government funding for the service.

In a lecture entitled "Not all TV is crap" at the British Library, she will argue there has been no "dumbing down" of Channel 4'scommitment to producing education programmes.

She told The Independent: "There are ways in which public policy and government feels a long way away from people but Jamie's School Dinners cut through that and showed that you can affect change.

"We're looking to commission a similar programme next year and the one issue we're really looking at is sex education.

"We have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe, we have a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases, you have a mother with three children under 15 all of whom are pregnant - yet sex education is not compulsory in schools and parents are entitled to withdraw their children from sex education lessons.

"Other European countries don't treat the subject in the same way. We want to educate young people to make decisions, ie, to say 'no' - which is probably not something we've been associated with in the past. That's what we're going to think about next year, which we believe will fit in with all this talk about respect."

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