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Top Learning Provider Backs Calls For Mandatory Sex Education In UK Colleges

Mark Dawe

Top UK learning provider, The Skills Network, has backed calls by Members of Parliament for sex education to be mandatory up to the age of 18 in UK colleges.

A report by the Women and Equalities Select Committee released today has said that young people are left under-supported and less equipped with important knowledge due to the gap in education between the ages of 16 and 18.

This builds on the findings of an Ofsted review in 2021 into instances of sexual abuse in schools and colleges – outlining the scale of the problem and the impact such behaviour had on staff as well as students.

Mark Dawe, CEO at The Skills Network, said:

“We welcome the latest recommendations from the Women and Equalities Select Committee today following their inquiry into sexual harassment in schools and colleges.

“Whilst it is reassuring that decision makers in Westminster are finally acknowledging the scale of the problem being faced by schools and colleges across the country, it is worrying that colleges in particular have had very little in terms of support, training or funding from the Government to support them in teaching around such matters.

“This is not a new issue, and it’s not one that is going to go away. The 2021 Ofsted report showed that nearly 90% of girls and nearly 50% of boys said they had been sent explicit pictures or videos of things they did not want to see. It also said that sexual harassment ‘occurs so frequently that it has become commonplace’. We need urgent action to tackle harmful behaviours and put education in place which can protect both students and staff.

“As a leading training provider, we work with colleges across the UK to ensure they have access to relevant high quality learning around consent to help them not only prevent instances of sexual harassment and abuse, but also help students and staff with knowing what to report and how to report if they are subject to something inappropriate or see something inappropriate happening to someone else. This learning is delivered via an online platform so colleges can evidence to Ofsted that staff and students have studied these topics to a high level.

“In light of the news this week, we are reducing the cost of our Consent, Harassment and other social series courses by 20% to help colleges with accessing this much needed content. But in the longer term, what we need to see is action and investment from Government to ensure decent sexual education becomes compulsory rather than optional in UK colleges.”

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