Education Secretary Nicky Morgan 'waged battle' with David Cameron for compulsory sex education lessons

The announcement not to make sex education compulsory across the country was condemned by campaigners

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The Independent Online

Nicky Morgan reportedly "waged a valiant battle" with David Cameron over his decision to block compulsory sex education in classrooms across the country.

On Wednesday the Education Secretary rejected MPs’ calls to make sex and relationship education compulsory in all schools, to the dismay of many campaigners. At the moment the lessons are not mandatory in academies or faith schools – where parents can refuse to allow their children to participate. 

The National Aids Trust said it was “extremely disappointed” at the decision. 

But, according to Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman, the Education Secretary “waged a valiant battle” to persuade the Prime Minister for the case of mandatory sex education classes in all schools. Newman adds: “What's worse is David Cameron decided to ignore the entreaties not only of his Education Secretary – and the aforementioned assembled ranks of supporters and experts – but also several other senior women in the Cabinet.” 

According to the report, the Home Secretary Theresa May, the Business Minister Anna Soubry and International Development Secretary Justine Greening all backed the change in policy.

A government source told Ms Newman: “There’s a divide…For me it gets to the heart of why we need more women in politics. It’s not just because it should be fair, it’s just these are the sort of issues which they understand and the men don’t.”

A source close to the Education Secretary, however, told the Independent they “did not recognise any description of a row.”

Parents on pupil sex education

A spokesperson for Mrs Morgan added: “Both the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister believe that young people should be provided with a curriculum for life that prepares them to succeed in modern Britain – high quality teaching of PSHE is one way schools should be doing that.

“After careful consideration, we believe it is not the availability but the quality of PSHE teaching that is the most pressing issue and we have now asked leading head teachers and practitioners to produce an action plan for improving PSHE. We have also received requests about updating the existing SRE guidance which we will carefully consider.

“We will continue to keep the status of PSHE under review and work with these experts to identify further action we can take to ensure that all pupils receive high quality, age appropriate PSHE and SRE.”

Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of the Sex Education Forum, described the sex education lessons earlier this week as "every child's right".

"Yet the government has ignored the views of parents, teachers and pupils and failed to guarantee that all children, in all schools, get this vital learning for life," she added. 

"SRE must begin in primary school and build year-on-year to enable young people to understand a wide spectrum of issues, including the difference between acceptable and abusive behaviour, consent and sexual health.