The Open University and young people’s sexual health and wellbeing charity, Brook have published findings from research into the role of Local Authorities in supporting young people’s sexual health. The report makes recommendations about what needs to happen to ensure young people can access the education and services they need to stay sexually healthy.
The report is based on FOIs of Local Authorities (LAs) in England, in depth interviews with LA staff and teachers, and focus groups of young people. It finds that key gaps in provision need to be addressed and that the Government, LAs and schools all have a role to play in maximising the positive impact of the new mandatory relationship and sex education (RSE) subject on young people’s sexual and reproductive health.
Key recommendations include:
- The Government must address the mismatch between Local Authorities’ public health responsibilities and their lack of financial capacity and authority to support and monitor RSE in their local schools.
- The Government must fund training adequately, to increase teachers’ confidence and competence in teaching RSE.
- Schools need to provide ring-fenced time for RSE and ensure trained teachers deliver a consistent curriculum across the school.
- LAs need to collect higher quality data on local population needs and patterns of service use when commissioning sexual and reproductive health services for young people.
- Sexual health service contracts should include the responsibility to ensure that information about the sexual health services in the area is effectively communicated to young people in schools, especially when there is a change in provision.
Lesley Hoggart, Professor of Social Policy Research at The Open University:
“We know that RSE is most effective in helping young people with reproductive control when it connects young people with friendly contraceptive services. This research with Brook has shown that much more needs to be done at a local level to ensure that happens.”
Lisa Hallgarten, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Brook:
“Mandatory RSE provides a unique opportunity to improve the sexual health of young people in England. We must not squander it. We know that some Local Authorities have committed significant resource to supporting schools with RSE over many years.
“However, this research finds that RSE will not realise its potential unless we see meaningful investment from central Government in supporting schools; a commitment from schools to prioritise RSE in the school timetable; and evidence-based commissioning of sexual health services in all areas to ensure services are meeting the needs of all young people.”
Find out more
To read the full report, please visit: https://www.brook.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Brook_OU_report_Mandatory-RSE_2020.pdf