Report on sexual exploitation of children with learning disabilities shows need for PSHE education

Today’s report from Barnardo’s and The Children’s Society shows that children and young people with learning disabilities face additional vulnerabilities to child sexual exploitation (CSE), and raises concerns about the lack of appropriate and inclusive safety education. Health and social care professionals cited in the report say that the government should do more to encourage PSHE education to be “utilised in all school settings to address CSE”.

This report is just the latest example of widespread recognition for the importance of PSHE education in keeping children and young people safe, with calls last week from the Children’s Commissioner, NSPCC and Barnardo’s for the Government to make PSHE education statutory. The cross-party Commons Education and Home Affairs Committees have also called for statutory status to keep children safe, while a series of inquiries into child sexual exploitation have highlighted the critical role of the subject.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Joe Hayman said,

“While PSHE education remains non-statutory, PSHE education will continue to be inadequate, with the subject falling off the curriculum entirely in some schools. It is difficult to see how the most vulnerable children, including those with learning disabilities, can be kept safe while provision remains so patchy.

“The PSHE Association continues to campaign for statutory PSHE education to ensure every child and young person receives learning that will help them to keep themselves and others safe. Statutory status has been recommended by both the Commons Education Committee and the Home Affairs Committee, and CSE has been called a ‘national threat’ by the Prime Minister. We call on Downing Street to make PSHE statutory so that this deeply concerning gap in Government policy in relation to vulnerable pupils is addressed”.

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