News Digest 10 – 14 July

This week Public Health England highlighted the critical role PSHE can play in preventing child sexual exploitation. The Government 2017 Drug Strategy also mentioned the importance of PSHE education in preventing drug and alcohol misuse. Finally, a number of PSHE-related written questions were answered by Minister Nick Gibb on discrimination, emergency life-saving skills and relationships education.

Public Health England CSE report highlights ‘critical’ role PSHE can play in prevention
new report from Public Health England on child sexual exploitation (CSE) suggests that the existing body of evidence ‘repeatedly highlights the critical role of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in addressing these issues’.

The report summarises the emerging evidence on CSE, and provides practice examples to support local public health leaders’ frameworks for prevention and intervention.  Regarding education, the report suggests a range of studies highlight the need for ‘universal education programmes’ to address young people’s lack of understanding on the issue, and suggests an ‘on-going process’ of education and awareness (rather than one-off interventions) as well as the need to explore links with related PSHE issues such as drugs and alcohol misuse.

Education on the issues should commence in an ‘age–appropriate manner’ with primary aged children the report says, given the increasingly young age at which children are being referred for concerns around CSE, and educative opportunities should be used to minimise likelihood of perpetration as well as victimisation.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley commented that “broad, statutory PSHE education – including but not limited to age-appropriate RSE – could provide the ‘educative opportunities’ recommended in the report to approach these issues in a coherent, developmental way”

Government Drug strategy mentions PSHE education
The Home Office launched its 2017 Drug Strategy on July 14th. The strategy places increased emphasis on prevention, and PSHE education is recommended in this context as a means of not only imparting knowledge, but of developing  ‘confidence, resilience and risk management skills’ to allow young people to deal with a range of risks they face. These include risks directly associated with drug and alcohol misuse, but also related risks related to unhealthy relationships, exploitation and crime, according to the strategy.

The report highlights that approaches that are ‘least effective’ in preventing substance misuse “. . . are those that focus solely on scare tactics, knowledge-only approaches, mass media campaigns or the use of ex-users and the police as drug educators in schools, where their input is not part of a wider evidence based prevention programme.”

Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said that: “This strategy recognises that such a multifaceted issue requires a complex educational approach with PSHE education at its heart. High quality PSHE develops both the knowledge pupils need about drugs, and the attributes – such as confidence, resilience and risk management skills – that helps them to manage risky situations and avoid harm, while exploring related factors such as unhealthy relationships and exploitation.”

Written questions on PSHE and RSE

  • Anna Turley MP asked what information the Department for Education holds on how many schools teach anti-racism education and what assessment has been made of the quality of that education. DfE Minister Nick Gibb answered that such data aren’t held by the department and that schools have the autonomy to tailor their approach to tackling the issues and to take action according to their individual requirements. Mr Gibb also mentioned that schools are free to teach about racism in PSHE education, where people can reflect on and challenge prejudice.
  • Dr Matthew Offord asked whether the DfE plans to include antisemitism and islamaphobia in the PSHE education curriculum, to which Mr Gibb noted that schools are free to teach about religious discrimination and racism in PSHE, where 'pupils can reflect on and challenge notions of prejudice', while noting opportunities in National Curriculum Citizenship and History to raise awareness of these issues. Mr Gibb reiterated that the DfE will soon embark on a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of PSHE.
  • Stella Creasy MP asked what the timetable and the commencement date is for the consultation on relationships education. Mr Gibb answered that the DfE will set out more details shortly about the process, and that they “will be conducting a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of relationships education, relationships and sex education and personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, involving a wide range of interested stakeholders.”
  • In response to a question from Justin Tomlinson MP regarding teaching emergency lifesaving skills on the curriculum, Mr Gibb said that the Government believes in the value of teaching young people the basic knowlede they need to carry out first aid and emergency response procedures. Mr Gibb added that many schools choose to teach lifesaving as part of PSHE education, and cited the PSHE Association's Programme of Study for its inclusion of first aid and understanding of risk.


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