This extensive report highlights risks to children posed by the internet, from easy access to inappropriate content, loss of privacy, commercial exploitation and cyberbullying to susceptibility to fake news and extremist views.
The Committee recommends that the Government makes PSHE education ‘a statutory subject, inspected by Ofsted’ to develop a holistic digital literacy that helps children and young people ‘critically understand the internet’ and ensure that online responsibilities, social norms and risks are covered on the curriculum in all schools.
While noting recently announced Government plans to make relationships and sex education mandatory from 2019 – and to consult on making PSHE as a whole statutory – the report highlighted that ‘the benefits of PSHE go beyond sex and relationship education’ and called for resources and training, including during initial teacher training, to ensure teachers and schools are prepared to deliver PSHE education to a high standard.
Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive, PSHE Association said:
“The Lords Communication Committee is spot on in recommending that the Government makes PSHE education statutory so that children and young people have the knowledge and skills to manage the challenges of life online.
Digital literacy is critical to this and PSHE education provides the framework through which it can be most effectively taught. Relationships and sex education is an important part of PSHE but making PSHE statutory in its entirety would go much further towards keeping children safe and aware online, as the report suggests.
Statutory status would help ensure PSHE education has the space on the timetable it needs and the confident, appropriately trained teachers to deliver it. All children and young people must receive the 21st century education they deserve.’