News digest 6 – 17 November

The Sex Education Forum celebrated its 30th anniversary and highlighted its 12 principles of effective RSE. The DfE appointed Ian Bauckham CBE as an advisor on how relationships and sex education should be taught in schools and about the role of PSHE education. Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield called for action on making PSHE statutory in its entirety and the UK Youth Parliament again chose a ‘curriculum for life’ as its priority campaign. Financial exclusion and digital resilience were discussed in the Lords and PSHE materials were launched to support the NaCTSO ‘run, hide, tell’ campaign.

Sex Education Forum celebrates 30th Anniversary & highlights principles of effective RSE
The Sex Education Forum celebrated its 30th anniversary at a Parliamentary event on 15th November, and used the occasion to release a 12 point statement on what is needed to ensure good-quality relationships and sex education (RSE), including that it should remain an identifiable part of PSHE curriculum. Education Secretary Justine Greening spoke at the event about the value of RSE and PSHE.

Children’s commissioner urges Government to take urgent action on statutory PSHE
In her evidence to the Education Committee, the Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield has urged the Government to make plans for statutory PSHE in its entirety ‘urgently’, not just RSE. Ms Longfield stressed that the need for “consistent” and “high-quality” PSHE, taught by “specialist individuals” with digital literacy as a key element.

UK Youth Parliament select ‘curriculum for life’ as campaigning priority
Young Parliamentarians held a robust debate in the Commons on Friday 10th November before voting to focus on campaigning for an education that provides young people with the skills, knowledge and attributes to make the most of a challenging world. Topics for inclusion in the debate were selected based on votes from just under a million young people. The UK Youth Parliament also chose a ‘curriculum for life’ as its main campaign in 2014 and 2017.

Education Secretary Justine Greening appoints Ian Bauckham CBE as advisor on RSE and PSHE
Ian Bauckham CBE has been appointed to advise the Department for Education on how relationships and sex education should be taught in secondary schools, ‘relationships education’ should be taught in primary schools, and on the role of PSHE education more broadly.  Mr Bauckham has 13 years’ experience as a head teacher and is former president of the Association of Schools and College Leaders. He will seek the views of parents, teachers, children and other interested groups. This follows Government commitments earlier this year to making RSE statutory in all secondary schools from 2019, ‘relationships education’ in all primary schools, and a consideration of whether to make PSHE statutory in its entirety, pending consultation.

The Government responds to the final report of the Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion
On 7 November the Government issued its response to the final report of the Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion. The role PSHE plays in teaching financial education was highlighted in section 5.14 the Committee’s report. The response states that: “The Department for Education is currently considering the case for making PSHE mandatory, alongside work to make Relationships Education in primary and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary compulsory in all schools”

Young Money (formerly pfeg) issued a statement welcoming the response, though urging the Government to “do more to ensure young people develop the skills, knowledge and confidence required to successfully manage their money” including by making PSHE statutory, adding that “Statutory PSHE with a strong ‘E’ for economic strand is an appropriate place to teach financial education, in both primary and secondary schools, as it includes the ‘personal’ aspects of financial education such as attitudes to money and budgeting”.

NaCTSO launches Run, Hide, Tell resource packs
The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) launched its Run, Hide, Tell resource pack that aims to inform 11-16 year olds this week on how to best react to a gun or knife attack. The PSHE Association has produced the teaching materials for schools, comprising lesson plans for key stage 3 and key stage 4 as well as detailed teacher guidance to support you to deliver this sensitive material confidently and safely. 

Government guidance encourages schools to embed promotion of National Citizen Service in PSHE
On 8 November the Government launched guidance for schools and colleges to help students get involved with the National Citizen Service (NCS). It recommends that schools embed promotion of NCS through their PSHE and Citizenship education curricula.

Digital Resilience debated in the House of Lords
On 7 November digital resilience was debated in the House of Lords. Lord Cotter asked what steps are taken by the Government to support the delivery of digital resilience programmes to help young people navigate the digital world safely. Lord Agnew of Oulton, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, said that the Government considers the teaching of digital resilience in schools through the development of relationships education and PSHE.

Written and oral questions

  • Chris Ruane asked whether the Secretary of State will assess the relevance for public health policy of the recommendations in the Happy people wear seat belts: wellbeing and risk-taking that was published on October 6 by What Works Centre for Wellbeing. Minister Robert Goodwill answered that the Government sees the wellbeing of children and young people as a priority and that it has funded the PSHE Association to publish guidance and lesson plans on teaching about mental health to this end.
  • Michael Tomlinson asked what steps are taken to include marriage in relationships education. Justine Greening answered that marriage is exceptionally important because the Government wants to help young people to understand how commitments and relationships are very much at the core of a balanced life that enables people to be successful more generally. Consequently, the Department is looking to update the guidance.
  • Stella Creasy asked when the Secretary of State plans to begin the public consultation on the provision of relationship and sex education guidance in schools. Justine Greening answered that the Government is pressing ahead with the engagement process with relevant groups and interested individuals, that parliamentarians shall be included over the coming months and that the views of young people and parents shall be sought. She also mentioned the appointment of Ian Bauckham CBE, the chief executive officer of Tenax Schools Trust, who will advise on that work.


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