Public affairs special update: growing momentum for compulsory PSHE

In a week of major developments, the Education Secretary has expressed her support for PSHE education, and a number of senior Liberal Democrat and Labour Party figures have added their backing to Caroline Lucas’ statutory PSHE Bill.

On Wednesday, during , Ms Morgan was asked about making PSHE statutory. She responded: a wide-ranging Times Educational Supplement interview

"Let me have a think about it. I think PSHE is very important. I particularly want to emphasise the relationships element of it, and we have to think about how this ties in with teaching about healthy self-esteem… and character. I am also Minister for Equalities and one of the things this Government… will continue to look at is homophobic and transphobic bullying and I think these things all tie in together."

She added:

"There is a balance too between saying from Whitehall 'this is what we want to do' and schools feeling more overburdened. It is a balance that I am conscious of needing to strike."

Our Chief Executive, Joe Hayman, welcomed the Secretary of State’s “open-minded approach and commitment to pupil mental health, relationships education and preparation for life and work in modern Britain - all key elements of PSHE education”. He also said the Association agreed with the Government about the importance of not overburdening schools and ensuring teachers were able to tailor their PSHE programmes to pupil need rather than following a curriculum set by Whitehall. Read our full response to Nicky Morgan’s comments

In other news, senior Liberal Democrat and Justice Minister Simon Hughes showed support for Caroline Lucas’ statutory PSHE Bill and urged others in his party to follow suit. He confirmed that his party’s members would have a free vote on the Bill and said that he wasn’t aware “that there was anybody in the parliamentary party that doesn’t think this is a good thing”. Labour MP Diane Abbott also backed the Bill, stating that PSHE education was a “cross-party issue”.

This follows last week’s manifesto commitment by the Liberal Democrats – announced by Education Minister David Laws – to making PSHE compulsory in all state-funded schools.

Green MP Caroline Lucas reiterated the importance of statutory PSHE, and her reasons for proposing the Bill, saying that “Lessons which help keep our children safe, healthy and happy shouldn’t be an optional ‘bolt on’ – they are essential, as is provision of proper support for the teachers leading them.”

Summing up the importance of these developments, our Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:

“We are encouraged by the supportive words from the Education Secretary and confirmation of support for Caroline Lucas’ PSHE Bill from the Liberal Democrats. This is in addition to support for the subject from various parliamentarians across parties in recent weeks. We hope this support can be harnessed and a tangible outcome achieved when the statutory PSHE Bill comes before Parliament in October. We will of course keep members updated on developments.


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