In today’s Education Committee session, Justine Greening fielded a number of questions on making PSHE education a statutory subject.
Conservative MP William Wragg highlighted statistics from the Department for Education school workforce survey which show a significant decline (32%) in the time secondary schools spend teaching PSHE lessons in just four years. He asked when the Education Secretary would make PSHE statutory to address this decline, to which she replied that she was looking into the matter, but had not yet come to a final view. She agreed that the Government needed to look at how they can better address the issue, highlighting yesterday’s report from the Women and Equalities Committee into sexual harassment and violence in schools (which recommended statutory status for PSHE).
Conservative MP Michelle Donelan noted that statutory status and improved quality could help address a range of issues, from mental health to first aid. The Education Secretary suggested there may be no ‘silver bullet’ approach but that whether related to sex and relationships or strong financial skills, there are important life skills young people should come out of the education system with.
Committee Chair Neil Carmichael MP asked whether the Education Secretary agreed that there is a link between social mobility and life skills teaching in schools. He noted that life skills make a key contribution to social mobility, and suggested that this perhaps strengthened the argument for statutory status for PSHE education. Justine Greening said that she agreed with the importance of preparing young people for life beyond school.
Labour MP Ian Mearns reminded the Education Secretary of the Education Committee’s report recommending statutory status and that this call had so far been ignored. Justine Greening said she would make sure she went back and looked at the report and recognised that there was a clear steer from the Committee about their views on the matter.
The session can be watched in full here.