News digest 3 – 7 April

PSHE education was discussed in the Lords this week during the Children and Social Work Bill amendments debate and in the context of technical education.

Children and Social Work Bill amendments debated  and agreed in the House of Lords
On April 4th amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill were discussed and agreed in the House of Lords which place a duty on the Secretary of State to make ‘relationships education’ mandatory in primary schools and ‘relationships and sex education’ (RSE) mandatory in secondary schools from 2019, with the power to enable her  to make PSHE education statutory in its entirety at the same time pending the outcome of a consultation.

Introducing the proposed changes, DfE Minister Lord Nash made promising comments on the Government’s intentions regarding statutory PSHE education. He said that while many pressing safeguarding concerns relate to relationships and sex education (RSE), it is evident that wider concerns about child safety and wellbeing relate to other life skills that are covered in broader PSHE, including understanding the risks of drug and alcohol use and safeguarding physical and mental health. He reminded the House that the Government wants to have the ability to make PSHE statutory for that reason.

Lord Nash then outlined how the Government intends to proceed by publishing guidance in 2018 following a wide engagement to consider content in the spring of 2017, a consultation in autumn 2017, and debates in both Houses. Then statutory relationships education, RSE and potentially PSHE in its entirety will be introduced from September 2019.

Regarding the content of the Bill he said due to the rapidly changing nature of risks which young people face, “we do not want to be overly prescriptive on content and therefore have chosen not to specify in the Bill the exact content of the subjects”. He also mentioned that PSHE topics will likely “cover the broad pillars of healthy bodies, lifestyles and healthy minds, economic well-being and making a positive contribution to society.”

In his final introductory remarks, Lord Nash made clear that the Government will consult with experts in the teaching profession, including the PSHE Association. He paid special tribute to the PSHE Association’s former CEO Joe Hayman for working tirelessly for the cause for many years. Following this, the Peers debated the contents of the amendments before approving them.

PSHE education mentioned in House of Lord’s debate on technical education
On April 5th a debate was held in the House of Lords on technical education. During the debate life skills and PSHE were mentioned various times. Baroness Corston, who chaired the Lord’s Social Mobility Committee, reminded the House that her committee had recommended that young people should have life skills education at school.

Lord Nash, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for education, agreed that life skills are vital. He said: “As this House knows and I think welcomes, we are introducing a power for the Secretary of State to introduce a duty on secondary schools to teach PSHE. We will be engaging widely on what the contents of PSHE should be. I believe that a lot of the essential life skills to which the noble Baroness refers should be included in that.”

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