News Digest 9 – 13 January

This week amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill were debated in parliament. In response to this, the PSHE Association released a joint statement with the NAHT. PSHE was also mentioned several times in other parliamentary discussions and questions. The latest edition of the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index was launched and Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech about mental health.

Children and Social Work Bill
On January 10th, amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill were debated in the House of Commons. Stella Creasy MP asked for the second reading of New Clause 11 ‘Safeguarding: provision of personal, social and health education’. She illustrated her case for the clause, which predominantly focuses on sex and relationship education, with sexual harassment and relationship data. Although some MPs were sympathetic to her calls, the request for a new reading was rejected.

PSHE Association and NAHT respond to Children and Social Work Bill debate
In response to the amendment that had been tabled to the Children and Social Work Bill, the NAHT and the PSHE outlined the case for making PSHE education a statutory subject in all schools in a joint statement, but focussing on the whole of PSHE and not just the SRE element.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “PSHE is crucial to provide time in the curriculum to discuss important and sensitive issues, and to protect teachers when grappling with these subjects. I hope the government takes on board this suggestion.”

Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association, said:”PSHE education develops essential skills and attributes – such as self-esteem, resilience, managing risk and resisting peer pressure – which pupils can apply to a range of areas. Therefore PSHE education in its entirety must be granted statutory status on the curriculum to support pupils with the broad range of complex and interconnected challenges they face”.

PSHE mentions in parliamentary questions and debates
Barbara Keeley, shadow minister for mental health and social care, spoke on the need for statutory PSHE saying that that “if the Government are serious about tackling the stigma around mental health, making high-quality PSHE lessons statutory would be a good place to start"

Nicola Blackwood, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, acknowledged the importance of the debate when responding to Ms Keeley and reiterated that mental health is an important issue for the Government. She said that while much must be done, there is currently quite a lot of support for teachers out there already, including Government-funded PSHE Association guidance.

Caroline Lucas asked whether the Secretary of State for Education will bring forward legislative proposals to make provision for age-appropriate PSHE, including sex and relationships education, to be statutory. Edward Timpson, speaking on behalf of the Government, answered that “The Secretary of State agrees that we need to look again at the case for further action on PSHE and SRE provision, as a matter of priority with particular consideration to improving quality and accessibility. We are actively considering what steps we could take and will give a view soon.”

Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index
On January 9th the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index for 2017 was launched. The report looks into the opinions and outlooks of people aged 16 to 25 and is based on a YouGov survey. It reveals that young people’s happiness and wellbeing is at its lowest level since the first edition of the index in 2009.

More than a quarter of young people do not feel in control of their lives, a third feel insecure of their job prospects and a tenth think their life will amount to nothing. The situation is especially bad for NEET young people. Commenting on the findings Dame Martina Milburn, chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, said:”The most effective thing we can do to empower young people is to help them develop the skills and coping mechanisms they need to move into work, education or training.”

Prime minster speech about mental health
Theresa May held a speech on January 9th pledging more help for people with mental health problems and moves to reduce number of suicides. The Prime Minister announced a number of measures, including mental health first aid teacher training and trials on improving links between schools and NHS mental health staff.

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