News Digest 11 – 15 September

Public Health England launched its Rise Above for Schools campaign this week, including PSHE resources on a range of topics relating to pupil health, wellbeing and resilience. A new commission has been launched to explore teaching about fake news and critical literacy skills. DfE Minister Nick Gibb highlighted the importance of PSHE to drug awareness and prevention education. It was also the FPA’s Sexual Health Week, with a focus this year on relationships and sex education, and TES and ITV published the results of their joint survey on bullying.

Rise Above for Schools by Public Health England
On 13 September Public Health England launched its Rise Above for Schools campaign to support young people’s health, wellbeing and resilience, including new secondary teaching resources on a range of PSHE issues. The resources address some challenging pressures young people face today in the digital world – including online relationships and cyberbullying, whilst also paying attention to more established issues such as including smoking and alcohol misuse.

Commenting on the launch, Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb said: "It is important young people are taught the knowledge they need to stay safe and healthy, and leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. High quality Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) teaching has a vital role to play in giving young people a better understanding of the society around them. These new resources provide teachers with another tool to help develop engaging lessons about the issues that young people face today."

Teaching about fake news and critical literacy skills in schools
The National Literacy Trust published its Fake news and critical literacy evidence review last month, which points out that children and young people in England do not have the required skills to recognise fake news. The review suggests that various aspects of the PSHE education programme of study “tap into critical literacy and being able to spot fake news” and that “most significantly for critical literacy, one of the overarching concepts of the programme of study – power – includes issues such as how power is used and encountered in various contexts (including online)".

The review went on to say that: “In a similar vein, the essential skills developed through the programme of study include “discernment in evaluating the arguments and opinions of others” and “recognising, evaluating and utilising strategies for managing influence”.”

Informed by this review, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy launched the Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools on 13 September, including surveys for schools to further determine pupils’ understanding of this area.

PSHE education’s role in drug awareness and prevention raised by education minister
Grahame Morris MP asked a question about drug education and awareness in schools, to which Minister Nick Gibb answered that “Education plays an important role in helping to ensure that young people are equipped with the information they need to make informed, healthy decisions and to keep themselves safe”.

Mr. Gibb went on to highlight PSHE educations’ role in achieving this, along with what’s covered in National Curriculum Science, saying that “we encourage all schools to teach PSHE and have outlined this expectation in the introduction to the National Curriculum”, adding that “many schools draw on materials produced by expert organisations for example, the PSHE Association non-statutory programme of study and evidence provided by tools such as ADEPIS”.

Mr. Gibb then referred to the Children and Social Work Act which would allow the Government to make PSHE mandatory: We will be further considering PSHE in the context of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 which provides for a power to make PSHE, or elements therein, mandatory in all schools, subject to careful consideration.”

FPA Sexual Health Week
The Family Planning Association (FPA) held its Sexual Health Week with a focus this year on relationships and sex education (RSE), in particular such issues as body image, consent, communication and safer sex, as well as perceptions and misconceptions about pornography. The Week included a range of activities, including a discussion in Parliament about the future of RSE and information for parents and schools.

Tes and ITV survey on bullying
A joint survey conducted by Tes and ITV This Morning found that of those surveyed, 23% of secondary school teachers and 12% of primary school teachers suggested they would not want to send their own children to the school in which they teach due to levels of bullying. Moreover, 22% of all teachers believe bullying is getting increasingly worse in their schools. Cyberbullying was highlighted as a particular problem, even in primary schools. Also more than half of all surveyed teachers said they had not received the training they need to combat bullying effectively.

A Department for Education spokesperson responded: "Bullying of any kind is unacceptable. Schools should be safe places where children are taught to tolerate and respect others. To help support this, the government is investing more than £4 million in anti-bullying projects. This includes the Diana Award to extend the peer-to-peer Anti-Bullying Ambassadors Programme to a further 4,000 young people.

"We have also funded advice for schools on understanding, preventing and responding to cyberbullying, along with an online safety toolkit for use in PSHE lessons."

Other PSHE related written parliamentary questions:

  • Richard Graham MP asked what steps have been taken to protect under 18 year olds from grooming and inappropriate relationships. Home Office Minister Sarah Newton answered that the Government announced a £40m package of measures in February 2017 to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking and to crack down offenders. Of that £2.3m went to the Home Office Disrespect Nobody campaign. She also mentioned that the Children and Social Work Act will make it a requirement that all primary schools in England teach relationships education and all secondary schools relationships and sex education (RSE) from September 2019.



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