News Digest 19 February – 2 March

This week the British Safety Council launched a new report on the future of work and the Equality and Human Rights Commission published the response they submitted to the PSHE and RSE call for evidence. Schools Minister Nick Gibb also answered various written and oral questions from Members of Parliament.

British Safety Council recommends development of soft skills and resilience in new report
The British Safety Council launched a report which explores ways in which a  the future world of work may place new health, wellbeing and safety pressures on employees, making it increasingly important to build resilience. The report also suggests that schools should prepare young people with a greater variety of soft skills to meet future requirements – including creativity, leadership, social skills and flexibility.

Equality and Human Rights Commission support for statutory PSHE
The Equality and Human Rights Commission published the evidence it submitted to the recent DfE call for evidence on PSHE and RSE, which closed on 12 February. The submission strongly supports statutory PSHE and stated that “The Commission considers that PSHE education provides an opportunity to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that the education of the child shall be directed to the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and that this requires a balanced approach to education, “reconciling diverse values through dialogue and respect for difference.”

Written and oral questions

  • Emma Lewell-Buck asked what the time frame is for the introduction of statutory PSHE education. On 20 February, Nick Gibb answered that the outcome of the ongoing engagement process that the Department for Education is conducting will determine the future status of PSHE.
  • Emma Lewell-buck also asked what funding has been allocated for the roll-out of statutory relationships and sex education (RSE). ON 20 February, Nick Gibb answered that The Children and Social Work Act 2017 places a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to make Relationships Education mandatory in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) mandatory in secondary schools. Mr Gibb said it was a priority of the Department to support schools to deliver high quality lessons.
  • Alex Sobel asked what steps are being taken to ensure students are educated on issues on privacy and personal security on social media. On 20 February, Nick Gibb answered that the Government is committed to ensuring that children and young people stay safe online. He mentioned that content on online safety may be taught through RSE and PSHE. He also referred to the UKCCIS Education for a Connected Work framework which the PSHE Association contributed to. 
  • Dan Carden asked what steps the Department is taking to ensure that all schools teach awareness of violence against women and girls. On 21 February, Nick Gibb answered that the Government is ensuring that young people have the knowledge tochallenge attitudes about abuse and consent. Mr Gibb referred to the Home Office Disrespect Nobody campaign (for which free PSHE resources are available here). He added that the Department for Education is currently considering how best to teach pupils about healthy and respectful relationships as part of measures to improve RSE and PSHE.
  • Catherine West asked whether there are plans for the PSHE national curriculum to include components to raise awareness of the problem of eating disorders. On 22 February, Nick Gibb answered that schools are already free to address eating disorders through PSHE and that the Government has funded the PSHE Association to provide guidance to schools on how to teach pupils about mental health.
  • Dan Jarvis asked if the Department for Education will make an assessment of the potential merits of making teaching first aid a compulsory part of the curriculum. On 26 February, Nick Gibb answered that many schools already teach first aid as part of PSHE education. These schools are able to draw from materials from expert organisations such as the PSHE Association and British Heart Foundation. Following the Children and Social Work Act 2017, the Department has conducted the first stage of a thorough and planned engagement process with a call for evidence that closed on 12 February, on the scope and content of Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education, and on the future status of PSHE.
  • Michael Tomlinson asked what plans the Department for Education has to ensure the guidance and regulations on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) makes reference to marriage. On 27 February, Nick Gibb answered that the Department has conducted the first stage of thorough engagement process that will help determine the content of the regulations and statutory guidance of RSE. The Department has received more than 20,000 responses to its call for evidence.
  • Carolyn Harris asked minister Amber Rudd whether she has taken the opportunity to emphasise to her Education colleagues how important it is to identify female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriages a priority area in the curriculum. Amber Rudd answered that both these areas will be considered as part of the curriculum, but highlighted that the Government has also already done quite a lot to address the “scourge, unpleasantness and horror” of forced marriage and FGM.

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