News digest 10 – 21 April

Although much attention went to the newly announced June general elections this week, PSHE education and relationships and sex education (RSE) were discussed nonetheless. The NUT made a strong comment in which it called PSHE and SRE an ‘essential part of the curriculum’ that covers a whole range of issues, not just relationships. The results of a poll on hate crime and hate speech by the ATL union showed further support for PSHE and Edward Timpson reiterated the DfE’s commitment to pupil mental health and wellbeing.

NUT comments that PSHE & RSE should be 'essential part of curriculum'
Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), commented on the Government’s proposals to strengthen the status of PSHE and relationships and sex education (RSE) statutory in all schools, suggesting a need to cover the breadth of the subject and not just relationships: : “The goal must be a high quality and age-appropriate SRE across all key stages which fits the complexity of young people’s lives today. Implementation must ensure that, in primary education, the SRE/PSHE curriculum covers the whole range of issues, not just relationships.”

He proceeded by saying that: “It is high time that PSHE and SRE – including LGBT+ education – is recognised as an essential part of the school curriculum. It is important for a modern forward-thinking society to understand and embrace differences within our communities. Schools are ideally placed to do this. This will only be effective, however, if teachers are given high quality training and there is time and space in the school day to deliver it”.

ATL poll on hate crime and speech
The Association for Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) held a poll amongst 345 of its members. Over a fifth of respondents believed that pupils had been subjected to hate crime or hate speech at school during the last academic year and many believed that the problem had increased compared to other years.  84% expressed that education about hate crime, hate speech and discrimination should be included in statutory PSHE and age-appropriate relationship and sex education.

Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of ATL, said: "ATL calls for awareness to be raised about the discrimination faced daily by many. Schools need to play their role in educating children to build a culture of tolerance and respect. All schools should have robust bullying policies in place that cover how to deal with incidents of hate crime and speech. We hope that schools can support staff to educate young people in recognising and challenging hate crimes and hate speech wherever they occur.”

"After years of lobbying them to do so, we welcome the Government's proposals to require PSHE to be taught in all schools, to require relationship and sex education teaching in all secondary schools, and to require the teaching of age-appropriate relationships education in primary schools." 

Written questions on PSHE or RSE

  • In response to a question from Catherine McKinnell  MP on  the effect of exams (including unsatisfactory results)  on young people’s mental health and wellbeing ,  Edward Timpson answered that the Department for Education sees good mental health and wellbeing as a priority and that it has therefore supported schools in various ways, including funding the PSHE Association to publish guidance and age-appropriate lesson plans on teaching about mental health issues.

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