The Northern Ireland secretary says he will consider introducing compulsory relationship and sex education (RSE) in schools if the Department of Education does not.

BBC News NI has learned that Shailesh Vara has written to the department to inform them of his intention to act.

Mr Vara said he had a legal duty to act on the recommendations of a United Nations (UN) committee report on RSE.

It said RSE in Northern Ireland should be compulsory and comprehensive.

It said it should cover topics such as access to abortion and prevention of early pregnancy.

In response, the department said Education Minister Michelle McIlveen had written to the Northern Ireland secretary inviting him to meet her to discuss the issue.

In a statement to BBC News NI, a Department of Education spokesperson also said that RSE in schools in Northern Ireland “already provides opportunities for young people to learn about the implications of sexual maturation and the emotional, social and moral implications of early sexual activity”.

Each school in Northern Ireland is currently required by the department to develop its own policy.


It’s very important that in N. Ireland we have a professionally drawn up sex education programme and not one from any church that brings with it the overtones of sin, guilt and fear

We also need ALL our schools to be STATE SCHOOLS where Protestant, Catholic and other children are all educated together.

Segregated education has contributed to The Troubles and the hatred and killing in N. Ireland.

Church teaching and “morals” should be confined to the church, the home and Sunday school.

This is the essence of the separation of Church and State.

We need our governments and politicians to resist the churches wanting to use schools for their propaganda.

Churches should have the same status in law as golf clubs etc.

If churches and religious want to run their own schools they should pay for them 100%.

And they should be bound to the state curriculum in all subjects.