News Digest 23 March – 4 May

The Home Office launched its new Serious Violence Strategy, the Bank of England explored the importance of economic wellbeing education and various written questions were answered.

Serious Violence Strategy launched by Home Office
On April 9 the  Home Office launched its Serious Violence Strategy. The strategy aims to steer young people away from crime and to tackle gang violence. With £40 million of funding from the Home Office, the strategy focusses on both prevention and robust law enforcement, and brings together the voluntary sector, local government, policy and other key sectors to ensure the strategy is delivered effectively.

Discussion about the future of economic wellbeing education resource launch at the Bank of England
On Friday 27 April, the Bank of England held an event on 27 April to  launche its EconoMe PSHE resources (quality assured by the PSHE Association). Governor Mark Carney spoke about the importance of educating young people on the economy. This was followed by a panel discussion with Robert Peston, Lucy Kellaway and PSHE Association CEO Jonathan Baggaley exploring the need for the curriculum, and PSHE in particular, to prepare young people with the knowledge and skills to make sound financial choices.

Written questions

  • Lord Watson of Invergowrie asked what steps the government is taking to ensure that all schools teach awareness of violence against women and girls. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered on 23 March that the department is currently considering how to best ensure pupils are taught about healthy and respectful relationships as part of relationships education in primary and relationships and sex education in secondary schools. It is also considering the status of PSHE education. At the same time, the Home Office is delivering the third phase of the teen abuse campaign Disrespect Nobody (as part of this work the PSHE Association has recently updated elements of Disrespect NoBody PSHE resource back. The latest materials can be downloaded here).
  • Vicky Foxcroft asked what resources and training the Department for Education provides to teachers to ensure that they can identify and support teenagers who are in abusive relationships. On 5 April Nick Gibb answered that the Department has been working with the PSHE Association on the Disrespect Nobody campaign.
  • Lord Story asked what plans there are to protect pupils from new psychoactive substances which are not illegal but aim to mimic illegal substances. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered that the 2017 Drug Strategy references effective drug education as essential in preventing and tackling the problem of drug misuse. Pupils can be taught about new psychoactive substances in PSHE lessons - the PSHE Association’s non-statutory programme of study references drug education. He added that the government is also considering furthers steps to improve PSHE. Teaching about drugs is considered in that process as well.
  • Damien Moore asked what steps the Department is taking to encourage schools to use their budgets to provide sanitary products for children who are unable to afford them. On 23 April Nadhim Zahawi answered that the existing sex and relationships guidance encourages schools to make adequate and sensitive arrangements to help girls cope with menstruation.
  • Sarah Champion asked what the timetable is for the publication of draft guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE). Nick Gibb answered on 25 April that the Department for Education has conducted a thorough and wide-ranging engagement process, including a call for evidence, on the scope of relationships education for primary schools and RSE for secondary schools, and on the future status of PSHE. The DfE is currently considering the responses and is developing draft regulations and guidance. These will be subject to a full consultation before the regulations are laid in Parliament for debate.
  • Derek Thomas asked whether the consultation on changes to teaching of RSE and PSHE was sent to parents and guardians. Nick Gibb answered on 25 April that the Department undertook a call for evidence between December 2017 and February 2018, seeking views from parents and carers, teachers and other school staff, children and young people and other interested parties. The Department used a wide range of media channels to raise awareness and encourage participation from parents and other interest groups. The Department also met with representative groups such as the Parent-Teacher Association and Mumsnet.
  • Sharon Hodgson asked what discussions the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has had with the Secretary of State for Education in advance of the publication of guidance issued to schools to support the teaching of RSE lessons, and what public health content is planned to feature in the guidance. Steve Brine answered on 26 April that the Secretaries of State have met to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest and that the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England are members of the cross-Government group convened by the Department for Education to inform this guidance to support the teaching of relationships and sex education.
  • Karen Lee asked whether the Department for Education plans to introduce the teaching of menstrual wellbeing in schools. Nadhim Zahawi answered on 27 April that the national curriculum for science includes content on puberty and menstrual cycle in key stages 2 and 3. The government also provides guidance on sex and relationship education which outlines how and when schools can prepare girls and boys for puberty and menstruation. Schools will be required to teach relationships education (primary) or relationships and sex education from September 2019 and compulsory status for PSHE is being considered.  To decide what these subjects will look like, the government is conducting a thorough engagement process with a wide range of stakeholders. 
  • Derek Thomas asked whether the department has plans to introduce LGBT teaching for primary school age children.  Nick Gibb answered on 27 April that the Department is consulting a wide range of expert stakeholders to support the introduction of compulsory relationships education in primary schools and RSE in secondary schools. The findings from this process are helping the Department to reach evidence-based decisions on subject content.
  • Preet Kaur Gill asked if practical life lessons will be included in the PSHE curriculum. Nick Gibb answered on 27 April that the Department has conducted a thorough engagement process, including a call for evidence, on the scope and content of relationships education for primary and sex and relationships education for secondary schools, and on the future of PSHE. The findings of the call for evidence will support decision-making on PSHE and development of regulations and statutory guidance of the subjects.

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