News Digest 27 - 31 March

This week, Schools Week published an article on why sex education should be delivered as part of statutory PSHE. PSHE was discussed during the second oral evidence session for the children and young people’s mental health inquiry. Young enterprise highlighted PSHE in response to the House of Lords Select Committee report on Financial Exclusion, and the role PSHE can play in preventing alcohol abuse was discussed in the House of Lords.

Schools Week article on why sex education should be delivered as part of statutory PSHE
Schools Week published an article in which the case is made that PSHE and relationships and sex education should be introduced at the same time as one, integrated subject. Lisa Hallgarten, co-ordinator of the Sex Education Forum, said that schools will be “absolutely appalled” if forced to introduce two different subjects at different times.

Our chief executive, Jono Baggaley, said: “Keeping SRE separate from PSHE would damage its effectiveness from a pedagogical point of view and cause confusion for schools”.

The NAHT commented that PSHE is increasingly seen as the ideal method for delivering sex and relationships education and Caroline Lucas commented that: “It’s vital that the PSHE curriculum is developed alongside SRE and that a whole school approach is not lost. Combining PSHE and SRE makes much more sense from an implementation and training point of view.”

‘Children and young people’s mental health – role of education’ oral evidence
On March 29th the second oral evidence session for the children and young people’s mental health – role of education inquiry took place. In the first round of evidence, Lord Layard highlighted the significant contribution school makes to children and young people’s well-being. He proceeded by saying that evidence-based PSHE should be delivered in all schools and that at least one teacher per school should be a PSHE specialist. Wellbeing should be an explicit goal of schools and life skills should form part of the weekly life of the school, rather than be forcibly inserted in every lesson.

In the second round of evidence, Edward Timpson said that while teachers will not trained to become mental health professionals but could be trained to deal with low-level issues. He pointed out that the department for education has worked with the PSHE Association to provide guidance for teachers. He later pointed out that the Government would address digital resilience as part of the overall effort to educate children in life skills and PSHE areas.

Young Enterprise highlights PSHE in response to House of Lords Select Committee report on Financial Exclusion
Michael Mercieca, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise welcomed the Select Committee on Financial Exclusion’s report and highlighted the important role PSHE education can play in preventing financial exclusion:

"As secretariat for the APPG on Financial Education for Young People, we are pleased that the Committee has endorsed many of the key recommendations of the group's recent report on financial education in schools, including its addition to the statutory curriculum at primary level. It is vital that the Department for Education's upcoming consultation on statutory PSHE education recognises the important role that the subject – with a strong 'Economic' strand – can play in providing a platform for young people to start developing the knowledge, confidence and skills needed to navigate the financial challenges of later life.

Alcohol abuse debated in the House of Lords
On 30 March the cost of alcohol abuse to the NHS was discussed in the House of Lords. A part of the debate was dedicated to options for reducing the harms caused by alcohol abuse. Baroness Walmsey  said that it should be ensured that pupils are educated about the harms alcohol can cause in their PSHE lessons. Lord O’Shaughnessey, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for health, acknowledged the important role PSHE can play in informing young people.

Written questions on PSHE and SRE

  • Michael Gove asked what steps the Department for Education is taking to protect girls from female genital mutilation. In his answer Edward Timpson pointed out that the Government is committed to protecting children from all forms of abuse and that those campaigning on issues such as FGM can contribute to the public consultation that will be held on the contents of statutory relationships and sex education.
  • Grahame Morris asked what support the Government has made available to schools, colleges and universities to provide access to mental health services to students. Edward Timpson’s answers included a reference to guidance on teaching about mental health within the PSHE curriculum.
  • Stephen Timms asked what recent assessment the Secretary for Education has made of the adequacy of provision in primary schools of teaching children how to stay safe online. Nick Gibb answered that schools are encouraged to make provision for PSHE in their curriculum and added that: “High quality PSHE teaching has a vital role in preparing children for adulthood, including safe and respectful use of online technology.”
  • Lord Northbourne asked whether schools will be asked to teach about relationships between fathers and sons as part of the newly introduced obligation requiring all secondary schools to teach relationships and sex education. Lord Nash answered that the Government wants all pupils to be taught about how to recognize and build healthy relationships of all kinds, including family relationships. Students currently have the opportunity to learn about relationships in the non-statutory subject PSHE.

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