PSHE Association welcomes DfE focus on resilience to extremism and calls for more support for teachers

The Government has today launched a new resource hub for teachers, school leaders and parents seeking to educate young people about radicalisation and extremism and increase the resilience of vulnerable young people. The site Educate Against Hate is part of a package of measures announced by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today, and includes resources developed by the NSPCC.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:  

“We welcome the Government’s focus on this issue. Attempts to draw vulnerable young people into extremism are, as Security Minister John Hayes said today, a safeguarding issue and we are therefore pleased that the Department for Education is working with our colleagues at the NSPCC on this issue. The new Educate Against Hate website sets out some overarching principles relating to preventing extremism and the PSHE Association will be bringing out more detailed resources for classroom practitioners later in the year to address the practicalities of teaching this challenging and complex issue, including building resilience to extremism amongst vulnerable pupils.

As Department for Education guidance on the Prevent duty states, PSHE education can be an effective way of equipping pupils with the resilience, character, knowledge and skills to understand and manage difficult situations. The subject can be used to teach pupils to recognise and manage risk, make safer choices, and recognise when pressure from others threatens their personal safety. This potential will only be realised, however, if teachers get the resources, training and curriculum time they need.

In spite of exceptional practice in some schools, PSHE delivery nationally has been assessed as “not good enough” by Ofsted and is “deteriorating” according to the Commons Education Committee.  Issues relating to radicalisation and extremism are challenging, complex and often very close to children’s realities. Such issues shouldn’t be addressed by teachers or external visitors who haven’t had training, and should not be addressed in tutor periods or left off the curriculum because of lack of teacher confidence. Yet all too often this is the reality.

Making PSHE part of the national curriculum would ensure that schools understood that it should be taught in regular timetabled lessons by trained teachers, in line with expectations for other subjects. While not a panacea, statutory status would be a clear statement of raised expectations for the subject, with the onus then on schools and education bodies to meet those standards. Only then will the Department for Education’s expectations on building pupils’ resilience to extremism be achieved through PSHE education.”

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