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Letters extra: Ofsted report on sex and relationships education

The suggestion in the OFSTED report on Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) that "secondary schools should prepare young people for an adult life in which they can.be aware of their sexuality" is welcomed. The NUT also agrees strongly that "education about HIVAIDS is receiving less attention than in the past", and welcomes the suggestion that further guidance is given on teaching about sexuality and parenthood, and that the coverage of HIVAIDS is enhanced. Strategies that engage the particular needs of boys should also be developed.

This is in the light of the findings that many teachers remained nervous about addressing issues of sexuality at Key Stage 4, and dealt with the issue only superficially. The NUT believes that this is a direct consequence of Section 28, and regrets that the OFSTED report does not recommend the immediate repeal of Section 28, which has done so much to undermine teachers' confidence in the area of SRE.

The NUT is concerned that, according to the report, "homophobic attitudes go unchallenged in too many secondary schools" and that "staff have often insufficient guidance on the interpretation of school values and what constitutes unacceptable language or behaviour".

Further, there needs to be a greater recognition on the part of OFSTED, and in the DfES Sex and Relationships Guidance, that those committing homophobic bullying may themselves be insecure about their own sexuality.

Finally, the DfES should consider strategies to promote a greater awareness of the needs of transgender children. Any recognition of such needs is sadly lacking in the official guidance. Indeed a huge need exists in schools for training on these issues.

Doug McAvoy, General Secretary,nbsp;NUT

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