News Digest 23 – 27 October

This week a number of PSHE-related questions were answered by the Government and the Telegraph covered the #MeToo campaign, interviewing a PSHE Association subject specialist on the topic of tackling sexual harassment.

Tackling sexual harassment
In response to the #MeToo campaign, the Telegraph interviewed PSHE Association subject specialist Lucy Marcovitch on what we can do to tackle the problem of sexual harassment. Lucy pointed out that:

“There's a recognition from everyone that you don't just develop healthy relationship skills by osmosis. The issue lies with the fact that because PSHE isn't statutory, schools have never had to teach what a healthy relationship looks like.

A more holistic approach to sex education in secondary schools could start to address the issue. The curriculum could include what consent looks like, how to respect personal space and boundaries, what language is appropriate when it comes to sex, and how to tell if a relationship is healthy.  

This could be really positive if it opens up the possibility of having discussions with children about what's okay and not okay. Women are subject to all kinds of behaviour that goes unchallenged. This could challenge men and women, boys and girls about what is and isn't appropriate."  

Written questions

  • Caroline Lucas asked for what reason sex and relationships education (SRE) and PSHE are unavailable as a free teacher subject specialism course, and if the Secretary of State will make it her policy to make those subjects available as a free teacher subject specialism training course, and what steps have been taken to increase the teacher training on those subjects following recent legislative changes. Nick Gibb answered that the Department will be conducting a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of relationships education, relationships and sex education and PSHE involving a wide range of interested stakeholders, including the teaching profession. During this process subject contents, school practice and quality of delivery will be considered.
  •  Lord Watson of Invergowrie asked when the Government intends to bring into force sections 34 and 35 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered that the Government wants to help all schools to deliver high-quality Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) so that all young people are equipped to have healthy and respectful relationships, and leave school with the knowledge to prepare them for adult life. The Government shall shortly set out more details about the engagement process, timetable and work to consider age appropriate subject content.
  • Lord Storey asked whether the Department for Education intends to consult on making PSHE compulsory in all schools and if so, when. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered that the Department will be conducting a thorough engagement process on the scope and content of Relationships Education, RSE and PSHE and from that regulations and accompanying statutory guidance shall be created for Relationships Education, RSE, and should it be decided to make it mandatory, PSHE.

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