FOI release

Policy on sex and relationship education

A request for disclosure on the government's future sex and relationship policy.


  • Date requested: 20 October 2010
  • Publish date: 19 November 2010
  • Updated: 20 April 2011


Can the department provide information on the government’s future policy regarding sex and relationship education and its targets regarding teenage pregnancy rates?


Department for Education ministers are currently considering the future scope of the National Curriculum and whether there should be any additional requirements on schools regarding what they must teach. This includes consideration of the position of sex and relationships education (SRE).

Ministers will be announcing their proposals on the curriculum as a whole, later this year. But whatever the future position and status of SRE, ministers have been clear that they want SRE delivery to have a much stronger focus on relationships.

They know that parents are concerned about the way in which the media and commercial sector can sexualise girls at an early age and about the worrying levels of violence in teenage relationships. They have made a specific commitment to ensure all young people are taught about sexual consent.

On teenage pregnancy targets, the previous government set a target to halve the teenage pregnancy rate by 2010 (compared to the 1998 baseline rate). We will not know if that target has been achieved until the 2010 data is published in February 2012, but progress at 2008 (latest available data) is behind the trajectory needed to meet the target.

Ministers have not set any further targets for reducing teenage pregnancy rates, but have said that it remains a priority for the coalition government and that teenage pregnancy prevention will make an important contribution to their wider objectives of: reducing child poverty and health inequalities; and improving public health.

Ministers have not made final decisions, but it is unlikely that they will set a national teenage pregnancy reduction target, or impose targets on local areas (although local areas may decide to set targets for themselves).

So rather than expressing their ambition in terms of a numerical target, the ministers will describe their aim in terms of securing ‘a continuing downward trend in teenage pregnancy rates’.