News Digest 6 – 10 February

This week a cross-party amendment on relationships education was tabled to the Children and Social Work Bill, resulting in front page story on the Telegraph on sex and relationships education (SRE). The Government responded to the British Youth Council report on racism and religious discrimination, acknowledging the valuable role PSHE could play in tackling both issues. Finally, two parliamentary questions were answered.

Cross party amendment to Children and Social Work Bill tabled
An amendment (NC5) was tabled this week on ‘relationships education’ to the Children and Social Work Bill. The amendment is supported by a group of cross party MPs, including a number of prominent Conservatives. This prompted The Telegraph to publish a piece about SRE in its printed and online editions speculating that the subject will soon be compulsory in all secondary schools as a result of the amendment and levels of support.

The PSHE Association was quoted in the online edition of Article. Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive, PSHE Association, said: "While we welcome such strong cross party support on improving relationships education on the curriculum, to prepare young people for life a strengthening of this part of the curriculum must cover the whole of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. While sex and relationships education is a central part of the subject it is only one component.

PSHE education, as the Education Secretary outlined last week, should be at the heart of the curriculum and provides the structure to address other vital areas such as mental health, healthy lifestyles, skills for work and career success and alcohol and substance misuse. This is why we are calling on the Government to take its own steps to improve the status of the whole subject in all schools."

Government response to British Youth Council report on racism and religious discrimination
On February 7th, the Government responded to the British Youth Council report “Young people and the issues of racism and religious discrimination”. Among the report’s recommendations was statutory PSHE, with protected classroom time and statutory guidance.

The Government, in its cross-departmental response, acknowledged the valuable role PSHE education can play in schools and repeated that: “The Department for Education is actively considering the case for further action on PSHE, with particular consideration being given to improving quality and accessibility to ensure that provision is high-quality and age-appropriate."

Bronagh Hughes Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “Whilst we do wish that more of our recommendations could have been supported, we were particularly pleased to read of the Department of Education’s consideration of further action on the teaching of PSHE, and the Government’s welcome of the establishment of a national hate crime Independent Advisory Group for young people.”

Kim Johnson, president of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “The Youth Select Committee's original report echoed our call to make PSHE statutory. We welcome the confirmation that the Department for Education is actively considering the case for further action on PSHE, and hope it delivers this for all children."

Written questions in parliament

  • Daniel Zeichner asked whether the Government will take steps to include ‘a module on safeguarding mental health’ in the national curriculum. Minister Edward Timpson answered that the Government wants to prepare all children for success in modern Britain and that PSHE education can help achieving that. He further commented that: “We are committed to exploring all the options to improve the delivery of PSHE, and the case for further action is actively under review, with particular consideration to improving quality and accessibility. We have also committed to update Parliament further on the Government’s plans during the passage of the Children and Social Work Bill.”
  • Lord Watson of Invergowrie asked how far the Government’s programme to prevent and address homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools has progressed. In his answer, Lord Nash referred to various steps the Government has taken to tackle the problem including contracting the PSHE Association to quality assure resources on the topic.


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