This was a busy but positive week. A number of reports were released that called for statutory PSHE and the NAHT marked anti-bullying week with a powerful statement in support of the subject. The news that the UK Youth Parliament has elected ‘a curriculum for life’ as its priority campaigning issue for 2017 was significant.
UK Youth Parliament chose ‘a curriculum for life’ as priority campaigning issue for 2017
On Friday 11th, the UK Youth Parliament voted for its priority campaigning issue for 2017. An overwhelming majority of Youth MPs voted in favour of ‘a curriculum for life’ (including comprehensive, statutory PSHE and SRE) after a robust debate. The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, congratulated the Youth Parliament’s choice and also commented on the good quality of the debate. Please read our full response to the vote.
Anti-Bullying Week & Alcohol Awareness Week
The week started with the release of an NSPCC report on online bullying. Research shows a worrying 88% rise in online-bullying over the last 5 years, with children as young as 7 reaching out to Childline for help. Russell Hobby, the NAHT’s general secretary, responded to the report with a powerful message on PSHE education’s preventative role:
“NAHT has consistently called on the government to ensure all children take part in PSHE lessons. Guaranteed curriculum time would allow teachers to talk about sensitive issues. Unless we see PSHE on the curriculum, children will never learn all the skills they need for life outside school.”
This was also Alcohol Awareness Week and to highlight both this and Anti-Bullying Week we posted a news item and sent a mailout to our contacts highlighting a number of quality assured resources that can be used when covering these topics through PSHE.
Youth Select Committee report on racism and religious discrimination recommends statutory PSHE
On 17 November the Youth Select Committee released a report on racism and religious discrimination. The report warns against people’s attitudes to racism and discrimination becoming ‘normalised’ and calls on the Government to do more to define racism and religious discrimination and raise awareness of what these definitions mean. Recommendation 11 of the report is that PSHE should be a compulsory subject in schools, with protected classroom time and statutory guidance (page 34):
“We support calls from other Committees, organisations and representatives of teachers that PSHE should be a compulsory subject in schools, with protected classroom time and statutory guidance. To develop a balanced and appropriate syllabus with a clear system to ensure quality across schools we recommend that the Government undertake a consultation within the next 12 months with teachers, representative teaching, faith, race and community organisations, parents and young people, on the teaching and content of PSHE, including whether young people should be required to sit a GCSE in PSHE.”
In response to the report, NAHT general secretary Kim Johnson tweeted a strong message in favour of statutory PSHE:
“Statutory PSHE provides time in the curriculum to discuss important and sensitive issues, such as racism and religious discrimination, and to protect teachers when grappling with these subjects. I hope the government takes on board this report’s suggestions; the case is becoming unarguable.”
Education Minister Edward Timpson attended the report launched and spoke positively about the importance of PSHE and the need to improve its quality and status.
Education Policy Institute ‘Time to Deliver’ report of the Commission on Young People's Mental Health recommends statutory PSHE education
On 15 November the Education Policy Institute released its ‘Time to Deliver’ report of the Commission on Children and Young People’s Health . It’s recommendations include a specific call for statutory PSHE - including dedicated mental health education - in all schools (see page 33):
“Mandatory updated high quality, statutory PSHE in all schools and colleges with dedicated time. PSHE is not just about sex and relationship education. It needs to encompass a rounded approach to young people’s physical and mental health. The updated curriculum needs to take account of online risks and help build resilience in young people in face of these challenges.”
State of the Nation 2016 – Social Mobility in Great Britain
The Social Mobility Commission released a report on social mobility in Great Britain on 16 November suggesting a continued link between social demography and educational destiny. The report also shows that poor careers advice and work experience contribute to approximately a third more children from a poorer background dropping out of post-16 education than their better-off peers. The commission recommends that the Government should aim for better career service in schools, more opportunities for quality work experience and high-quality teachers in schools that need them. We highlighted the role PSHE education can play in overcoming problems related to social mobility in a recent PSHE Association briefing.
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