Schools urged to take action to lower teen pregnancy rate

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AS the number of young mums in the city continues to rise, there are calls for stronger action to stem the rise.

AS the number of young mums in the city continues to rise, there are calls for stronger action to stem the rise.The city’s Liberal Democrats say its is the only way to combat the problem of teenage pregnancy in Peterborough.

A report by the Department for Education and Skills revealed how 184 girls aged 15 to 17 fell pregnant in 2005 – up to five per cent on the previous year’s total of 175.

Of these pregnancies, 32 per cent ended in an abortion.

The call from the Lib Dems follows the publication of a report by a working group of city councillors, who looked into the high levels of teenage pregnancies in Peterborough.

At a recent meeting of the council’s health and adult social care scrutiny committee, members asked the council to develop more effective measures to promote sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools in the city.

The report, Review Of Teenage Pregnancy Strategy – Responses Received To Recommendations of the Health Scrutiny Review Group, states: “It is recommended that governing bodies be encouraged to each nominate a governor within its membership to have specific responsibility for governor input into SRE in schools.

“This will ensure that the SRE programme has a strong champion within the school.”

Lib Dem health spokesman Cllr Darren Fower said it didn’t go far enough and the council should be “ensuring, rather than just recommending”, that city schools nominate a governor within its membership to have specific responsibility for SRE classes.

The alarming figures which leave the city’s teenage pregnancy rates at 56.7 per 1,000 girls – which is also far higher than the national average of 41 per 1,000 – has sparked a review of sex education in Peterborough with the Lib Dems calling for new ways to get the safe sex message across to young people.

Cllr Fower added: “Although we have seen several services and external agencies training their field staff in sexual health and condom distribution, there remains the belief that schools and parents should be given the tools to ensure that a significant change in SRE is achieved.

“Schools must be called upon to include parents in training and information sessions.

“Rather than recommending such an agreed idea, the council should be looking at ways of ensuring governing bodies realise the benefits that could be achieved from nominating a specific individual to take responsibility for SRE provision and standards.”

Assistant director of Peterborough City Council’s universal services Elaine Fulton, argued that the city council lacked the power to make schools nominate a governor to have specific responsibility for SRE.

She added: “However, together with the head of schools (secondary), we will be visiting all governing bodies in the autumn term to talk about this very important issue and stress the importance of working together on this area of education and encouraging them to take these recommended steps.”