News digest 17 – 21 July

The Government’s new Drug Strategy, which recommends increased emphasis on preventative education, was debated in the House of Commons this week.  Parliamentary questions concerned PSHE education’s role in supporting positive body image, healthy relationships and emergency life-saving skills.

PSHE education’s role in delivering the new Government Drug Strategy discussed in Commons debate
On June 18 the Government Drug strategy – which was launched a week ago – was debated in the House of Commons. The Drugs strategy recommended increased emphasis on preventative education, including the need to build ‘confidence, resilience and risk management skills’ through PSHE.

Sarah Newton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability at the Home Office, introduced the strategy and said: “We want to reduce the demand for drugs by acting early to prevent people, especially young people, from taking drugs in the first place and then preventing escalation to more harmful use”

Ms Newton added that: “This starts with universal action to give all young people the resilience and confidence they need to make positive choices about their health and well-being, including resisting drugs. For example, we will be legislating to make PSHE statutory in schools and expanding the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service for young people.

Written parliamentary questions and answers relating to PSHE this week:

  • Justin Tomlinson asked if emergency lifesaving skills will be included in the curriculum. Minister Nick Gibb answered that schools are free to teach first aid, and that many schools currently do so as part of PSHE education. He also pointed out that the PSHE Association Programme of Study encourages schools to teach young people things such as how to recognise and follow health and safety procedures.
  • Lord Mendelsohn asked whether the Government Equalities Office’s (GEO) Body Confidence Campaign has undertaken many activities since its 2015 progress report and whether future activities are planned. Lord Nash answered that the GEO continues to address body image as part of its work to support young people’s media literacy, resilience, healthy relationships and healthy self-image. He also mentioned that the GEO had previously funded the PSHE Association to develop key standards on teaching about body image in schools and that it has funded Media Smart to develop a film-based resource on body-image for pupils in key stage 2.
  • Lord Mendelsohn also asked what assessment the Government has made of the Be Real Campaign’s conclusion that 52 percent of secondary school pupils regularly worry about their physical appearance and whether it will consider promoting the Be Real Body Confidence Toolkit in all schools in England. Lord Nash answered that the Government is supportive of the work of Be Real. He also noted that: “ In 2015 the Government funded the PSHE Association to develop and publish key standards on teaching about body image in schools” adding that it “. . . includes a list of resources on body image that have been accredited by the PSHE Association, and the Be Real body confidence toolkit has received that accreditation and so is included within the key standards resource. The PSHE Association is a trusted source for teachers and schools, and I am confident that this is an important way to support the promotion of the Be Real resource to schools.”
  • Sarah Champion asked what progress the Department is making on developing new guidance for schools on delivering sex and relationships and sex education (RSE). DfE minister Nick Gibb answered that the guidance will be developed following a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of RSE, involving a wide range of stakeholders and that the DfE will set out more details about the process shortly.

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