Connexions urged to revise approach to confidentiality

Connexions’ policy on confidentiality should be urgently
re-examined, the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy
has told the government.

Personal advisers working in schools should work on the same
model as school nurses, making one-to-one consultations between
young people and personal advisers confidential unless there are
serious child protection concerns.

A spokesperson for the group said that young people in schools
using the Connexions service “must be told of the level of
confidentiality they can expect before they disclose

The spokesperson also said that the teenage pregnancy strategy
was working, and young people were becoming more confident about
using sexual health services. The latest figures show a 10 per cent
fall in the rate of teenage conceptions among under-18s, and a fall
of 11 per cent among under-16s. The teenage pregnancy strategy aims
to halve the under-18 conception rate by 2020 and to increase the
participation of teenage mothers in education, training and
employment by 60 per cent.

The spokesperson said that if the pressure was not kept up these
achievements could be jeopardised.

The group’s second annual report states that more needs to
be done to engage boys and young men in sex and relationship
education in school, which they often feel is irrelevant. Young
people from ethnic minority groups also need to be targeted.

The group, chaired by Lady Winifred Tumim, was established in
2000 to monitor the teenage pregnancy strategy and advise

The group also recommends that sex and relationship education
should start at key stage 1 as part of the statutory

It would like to see under-16s have the same rights to
confidentiality as adults when they seek advice about
contraception, sex and relationships. The group says there should
be a new advertising campaign to inform under-16s of this right.
Health and other professionals should be given revised guidance to
clarify that young people can and should seek advice when they need
it without worrying about their confidence being breached.

The group also pointed out that many young parents still have
very low incomes, face many obstacles in returning to education and
work. It recommends better financial incentives to support
encourage them to return to education, as well as affordable and
adequate child care and housing.

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