News Digest 13 – 17 March

This week PSHE education was discussed during an online abuse debate in the House of Lords, our Chief Executive wrote in Children & Young People Now magazine about the importance of broader PSHE education and the Association issued new guidance for governors about PSHE. The Health and Education Committee held their first oral evidence session on mental health and education, the Government announced additional funding alcohol and drug education, the House of Lords voted in favour of ratification of the Istanbul convention and the NSPCC released figures about parental awareness of age limits on social media. The Terrence Higgins Trust also found that inclusive SRE would greatly benefit LGBT students and the Chair of Youth Social Action Review was announced.

The importance of broad PSHE education that encompasses but goes beyond relationships and sex education
Our chief-executive Jono Baggaley explained in his opinion piece (£) for Children & Young People Now that it is vital for relationships and sex education to continue to be taught in the context of broader, statutory  PSHE.

He said: “Relationships are central to our lives, so RSE must be at the heart of a comprehensive PSHE programme. But in the same way that addition could never be taught separately from mathematics, so RSE needs to be delivered within a broader PSHE education programme to be effective. Our emotional wellbeing, self-confidence and self-esteem are bound up in our relationships, but are not reducible to them.”

And added that: “As well as helping to keep young people safe, PSHE education has been proven to support children’s mental and physical health, reduce the risks of drug and alcohol misuse and can teach essential emergency life-saving skills. Good PSHE also has an impact on academic attainment, particularly for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils.”

PSHE discussed during online abuse debate in House of Lords
Minister for Internet Safety and Security Baroness Shields discussed the new duty on schools to teach online relationships from 2019 as part of PSHE during a debate in the House of Lords on social media and online abuse. She said: “Online anonymity is a particular problem. Online abuse is abhorrent and its consequences can be devastating, but oftentimes people are anonymous and it is difficult to track them. Unfortunately, while online abuse is always harmful it is not always illegal, so the goal of the Government is to equip people with the knowledge and the tools they need in order to be digitally resilient.

That is why last week the Government announced a new duty on all schools to provide education on online relationships as part of the PSHE curriculum and have announced a cross-government internet safety strategy with a Green Paper that is due out before the summer.“

(Visit the news section of our site for a reminder of Education Secretary Justine Greening’s recent historic announcement on PSHE and relationships and sex education (RSE).

PSHE Association publishes new guidance for governors on PSHE education
The Association has published updated guidance for governors about PSHE education, including what it covers and where it meets schools’ duties and responsibilities. This guidance was highlighted in an article (£) Jono wrote for the National Governor’s Association (NGA) magazine on why schools should prioritise PSHE education. The NGA supports the call for PSHE education to be a statutory curriculum subject.

‘Children and young people’s mental health – role of education’ oral evidence
On Tuesday 14th, the first oral evidence session for the children and young people’s mental health – role of education inquiry took place. The witnesses spoke on schools’ role in supporting emotional health and wellbeing and discussed a whole school approach including PSHE education. We have also submitted written evidence to the committee in which we outlined PSHE education’s crucial role in promoting emotional wellbeing, building resilience, establishing and protecting good mental health and in preventing the development of mental health problems in children and young people.

Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Bill
On Friday March 10th the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Bill was read for the second time in the House of Lords. The purpose of the bill is to finally ratify the Istanbul convention and put important mechanisms to hold the Government to account in their progress towards ratification in place. The Minister of State, Home Office Baroness Williams of Trafford, expressed that the Government fully supports the Bill and outlined some of the Government’s efforts to prevent violence against women and girls, including statutory relationships and sex education on the curriculum.

Government extends funding of Mentor ADEPIS alcohol and drug education programme
The Home Office and Public Health England (PHE) have awarded Mentor UK a new 3 year contract to continue the development and delivery of the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) programme for schools and community prevention services. The ADEPIS programme is a leading source of evidence based information and tools for delivering alcohol and drug education as part of PSHE education.

LGBT students say that inclusive SRE would have given them a better first sexual experience
A poll by the Terrence Higgins Trust has revealed that many LGBT feel left behind due to a lack of LGBT inclusive relationships and sex education (RSE). Approximately three quarters of LGBT students think they would have had a better first sexual experience if the RSE they had received had been more LGBT inclusive.

Alex Philips, RSE lead at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We are heartened by the government's promise to provide inclusive SRE in secondary schools – but to have full impact, inclusivity should begin at primary school in an age-appropriate way. It must also not become tokenistic, so teachers will need appropriate guidance and training on how to cover LGBT issues fully and meaningfully with students."

NSPCC figures suggest that many parents are unaware of age limit on social media
NSPCC has released new figures that suggest that many parents don’t know whether their children are old enough to use social networks such as Facebook or Snapchat, with 20% of parents thinking that there are no age requirements at all for social media.

Chair of Youth Social Action Review announced
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has named Steve Holliday as Chair of the Youth Full-Time Social Action review. The review will look at how to increase participation in full-time social action by young people, and examine the challenges that organisations working in this area face. 

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