Fertility expert Lord Winston has hit out at the “shocking” ignorance of young girls about ovulation cycles as peers demanded better sex and relationship education in schools
Lord Winston told the House of Lords during Question Time he was leading an outreach programme working with teenagers aged about 16.
“What is absolutely shocking is the very few number of girls who even know when ovulation occurs,” the Labour peer said. “The ignorance of the menstrual cycle and basic biology is very striking.
“Isn’t this another example of the narrowness of the curriculum in school which prevents a wider education generally and is very important in these matters?”
Education minister Lord Nash said the outreach programme involving the peer was much valued by participating schools.
He said he was “a bit shocked” by Lord Winston’s comments. “These matters should be taught in science. Clearly this is something that is unacceptable and we need to look at further,” said Lord Nash.
Lord Nash said there was no plan to review the national curriculum to include sex and relationship education.
But he said the case for “further action” on personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and sex and relationship education (SRE) delivery was “actively under review”.
Labour’s Baroness Donaghy said 5,500 sexual offences had been reported to police by UK schools in three years up to last year, including 600 reports of rape.
She warned many boys learn about sex from online pornography and “some schools failing in their legal obligation to keep girls safe”.
There had to be a “whole school approach on a statutory basis” with Ofsted including sex and relationship teaching in its inspections, said Lady Donaghy.
Lord Nash said it was “completely unacceptable” for pupils to learn about sex from pornography rather than an age-appropriate programme in schools.
He agreed that Ofsted had a vital role to play and said the inspection handbook had been updated to include looking at records on tackling bullying, discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour.