The two organisations welcome recent DfE statements that they are “considering all options” to improve PSHE and SRE provision, including statutory status. This comes on the back of a campaign for statutory PSHE and numerous calls for statutory SRE. As the organisations supporting schools’ SRE and PSHE education nationally they state that strengthening SRE alone would be a missed opportunity, and limit its potential to keep pupils healthy, informed and safe from a complex range of risks.
The joint statement outlines how SRE must form a mandatory element of a broader PSHE education which develops essential skills and attributes – such as self-esteem, managing risk and resisting peer pressure – which pupils can apply to a range of areas; and which addresses related factors such as alcohol and drugs, media literacy, online safety, gender equality and emotional wellbeing.
The PSHE Association and Sex Education Forum stress that this holistic approach helps to protect children from complex problems such as child sexual exploitation which often involve numerous contributory factors addressed by PSHE education – such as drug and alcohol abuse or emotional wellbeing – but not by SRE alone. The report of the inquiry into CSE in Oxfordshire, for example, recommended that universal drug and alcohol education should be provided to secondary school pupils to help protect children from exploitation.
Jonathan Baggaley, PSHE Association Chief Executive said:
“Sex and relationships education (SRE) forms a core part of PSHE education and we are delighted to make a joint call with the Sex Education Forum for the Government to make PSHE education as a whole statutory on the curriculum. This approach would help to address the breadth and complexity of issues such as child sexual exploitation (CSE) which often involve numerous contributory factors addressed by a broader PSHE education – such as drug and alcohol abuse, emotional wellbeing and online safety. We are encouraged by recent Department for Education recognition that the quality of PSHE and SRE provision needs to be improved, and that they are considering “all options”, so we want to ensure any commitment they make has the best chance of success by strengthening PSHE education in its entirety. “
Lisa Hallgarten, Sex Education Forum National Coordinator said:
"The Sex Education Forum is pleased to be joining forces with the PSHE Association to campaign for the education our children and young people need in order to ensure their safety and wellbeing as they grow up. We welcome calls from politicians, parents, young people and expert organisations for high quality holistic Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) for all children in all schools. Ensuring that SRE is a mandatory element of a statutory PSHE curriculum is a vital step in realising that aspiration."