PSHE Association response to Government statement on status of the subject

The PSHE Association has expressed deep disappointment about the Government’s decision to reject the Commons Education Committee’s recommendation that PSHE education should become a statutory subject.

Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:

“This is an appalling failure. In making this decision, the Government has ignored not just the Education Committee but also the Home Affairs Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Chairs of the Commons Health and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees,  Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, the Children’s Commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer, the Association for Directors of Public Health, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Association of Independent Local Safeguarding Children Boards Chairs, the NSPCC, two royal societies, six medical royal colleges, over 100 expert bodies, 85% of business leaders, 88% of teachers, 90% of parents and 92% of young people.

What is most baffling about this decision is that the Government has a range of objectives it seeks to achieve through PSHE education, including teaching pupils to stay safe online, promoting children and young people’s mental health and preventing radicalisation, child sexual exploitation and violence against women and girls. Its decision not to address a status quo in which these issues are addressed by untrained teachers in inadequate curriculum time – or left off the curriculum altogether – is self-defeating and leaves vulnerable young people at risk.

We note that the status of the subject will be kept under review by government, and the PSHE Association will revisit this issue with ministers at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, we will focus the energy of the statutory status campaign on driving up standards of PSHE provision in schools across the country. We know teachers, senior leadership teams, heads, governors, academy sponsors, and local authorities support the subject and we call on them to work with us as we redouble our efforts to improve PSHE education nationwide. We will announce new measures in this respect shortly.

Political failure must not prevent concerted action from professionals working to improve outcomes for children and young people. While the Government’s inaction makes our collective job harder, it should also make us more determined than ever to fulfil our professional duties. The imperative to keep all children and young people healthy and safe and to prepare them for life and work in modern Britain remains as strong as ever.”

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