School nurses should be discussing sex education and relationships in primary and secondary schools as a statutory obligation, according to a cross-party group of MPs.
They want the government to guarantee tuition on the topics by adding ‘Personal, Social and Health Education’ to the curriculum on a statutory basis. Currently, the subject is a non-statutory part of the curriculum.
The call comes as the Department for Children, Schools and Families prepares to publish a review of sexual health education this autumn.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Sandra Gidley, one of the 10 politicians calling for the change in a letter to a national newspaper, told NT that nurses would be key to the subject being made compulsory.
‘Not all teachers are comfortable talking about this kind of thing and there needs to be some system where teachers are given training, or it [the education] should be run by nurses,’ she said.
‘If you are going to be taught geography then you should be taught it by the geography teacher and the same applies here,’ she added. ‘We should be making much better use of nurses in schools and they are best placed to do this.’
Joy Winks, RCN school nurse forum chairperson, said: ‘We think this should be mandatory and, yes, school nurses should be part of this.
But she added: ‘Nurses would not be in every class doing it. They would probably be part of the development of it and offering ideas but not necessarily delivering it.
‘It has to be done as part of the whole ethos of the school so that the teachers have the same ethos as the nurse,’ she said.
Sharon White, professional officer at the School and Public Health Nurses Association, agreed. ‘Teachers have to be able to teach the difficult things too, not pass that difficulty to someone else. Health is all about education.’