News Digest 1 – 12 January

This week Damian Hinds was appointed as the new Secretary of State for Education. News Wise, a news literacy programme for primary school children was announced and the Children’s Commissioner for England called on schools to prepare pupils for the pressures of social media. Furthermore, Lord Agnew of Oulton answered a written parliamentary question whilst minister for Women and Equalities Amber Rudd gave oral evidence.

PSHE Association welcomes Damian Hinds to his new role as Education Secretary
The PSHE Association welcomes Damian Hinds to his new role as Education Secretary, and calls for a continuation of progress made under Justine Greening towards statutory PSHE education that includes, but isn’t limited to, relationships and sex education (RSE).  Mr Hinds has previously been a member of the Education Select Committee and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said:
“We look forward to working with Damian Hinds as Education Secretary and hope that he will continue the progress made under Justine Greening towards improving the status and quality of PSHE education. Government amendments to the Children and Social Work Act have paved the way for statutory PSHE education including improvements to relationships and sex education, and Ms Greening must be commended for her work on this.

With a call-for-evidence on PSHE education and relationships and sex education now open, it’s vital not to lose momentum towards ensuring all children and young people, in all schools, benefit from statutory PSHE that enables regular high-quality lessons taught by trained teachers.  The evidence is clear that this could have a huge impact on young people’s life chances, wellbeing, safety and ability to achieve”

Guardian Foundation, National Literacy Trust, PSHE Association and Google announce News Wise - a news literacy programme for primary schools
On 12 January News Wise, a news literacy programme for primary school children, was announced. The pilot, which will launch in Autumn 2018, will enable children to access, navigate, analyse and participate in the news through a series of lesson plans, online resources and workshops. The project is developed by the Guardian Foundation, the National Literacy Trust and the PSHE Association and will be funded by Google for its first year.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said:“The school curriculum, including high quality PSHE education, can play a vital role in teaching all children critical literacy skills from an early age, including the ability to spot misinformation, identify persuasion in communication and distinguish fact from opinion. Teachers and schools need high quality training and support to cover this increasingly complex area, which is why we are delighted to work with the National Literacy Trust, Google and the Guardian Foundation on the News Wise programme.”

Children’s Commissioner calls on schools to prepare pupils for pressures of social media
In a new report the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, calls for schools to prepare pupils for pressures of social media. The research looks at the social media lives of children before their teenage years and it found that the impact the internet changes around the time pupils switch schools when their interest moves from games to social platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, welcomed the recommendation and said that the non-statutory status of PSHE holds back any progress in tackling the dangers of social media. He also commented that: “Online safety, including the impact which social media can have on emotional and mental health, must be seen as part of a bigger picture in schools for pupils of all ages.”

Written and oral questions

  • Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked how the Government will ensure that relationships and sex education will be LGBT inclusive, and which stakeholders are consulted in respect of the placing of (1) PSHE and (2) RSE on statutory footing, and when it is expected that the draft regulations for both will be laid before the Parliament.  Lord Agnew of Oulton answered that the Government has a begun an engagement process with a wide range of stakeholders, including those representing the interests of LGBT groups. It has also launched a call for evidence to gather the views of teachers, parents and young people. Draft regulations and guidance will be published in 2018.
  • Justine Greening asked Amber Rudd, minister for Women and Equalities, if she could confirm that the Government will push ahead with updating relationships and sex education guidance. Amber Rudd answered that this is the case.

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