News Digest 25 June – 6 July

The APPG on fit and healthy childhood recommended PSHE to support mental health in childhood and the British Psychological Society referred to PSHE in its response to the childhood obesity strategy. Further recommendations for PSHE lessons were made in a report on preventing and tackling bullying and in a Science and Technology Committee evidence session. Finally, Ministers answered some written and oral questions.

APPG ‘Mental Health in Childhood’ report mentions PSHE
Mental Health in Childhood´, a report published this week by the all-parliamentary group on a fit and healthy childhood, refers to PSHE and how it could be used to support wellbeing. The APPG recommends a “PSHE curriculum to proactively support mental health and wellbeing from early years to secondary and further education”.

British Psychological Society response to obesity strategy includes focus on PSHE
The British Psychological Society has responded to the government’s new measures to half childhood obesity by 2030. Drawing attention to the complex nature of the causes of obesity, the Society recommends that “the PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) curriculum should include the role of food, nutrition, malnutrition, obesity and the promotion of healthy eating, exercise and a positive relationship with food.”

DfE publishes report on approaches to preventing and tackling bullying
The Department for Education has published a report which explores anti-bullying practices in England. The report includes  case studies, some of which demonstrate how schools  use the PSHE education curriculum  to effectively combat bullying.

Science and Technology Committee hears panel recommend compulsory PSHE lessons
On 3 July the Science and Technology Committee heard evidence on the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. Discussing the type of content that children and young people are exposed to online and on social media. Various members of the panel of experts giving evidence believed that PSHE lessons should be compulsory.

Written questions:

  • Scott Mann asked the Secretary of State if he will assess the potential merits of including cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the student curriculum. Nick Gibb answered that schools are already able to teach first-aid in a variety of ways, including as a part of PSHE education. In doing so, they can draw from curriculum materials from expert organisations such as the PSHE Association and the British Heart Foundation.
  • Lord Storey asked when the call for evidence on guidance relating to relationship education and relationships and sex education was opened, when it closed and when the Department expects to report. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered that the call for evidence was open from 19 December 2017 until 12 February 2018 and that its results will be published shortly.
  • Tulip Siddiq asked whether the Secretary of State for Education has made an assessment of the potential effect of conferring statutory status on PSHE education on tackling discrimination in schools. Nick Gibb answered that the Department for Education is currently finalising the assessment of the evidence gathered during a wide-ranging engagement process. Results will be published shortly.
  • Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked when the Government plans to publish the revised curriculum and draft regulations to introduce relationships education at primary level and relationships and sex education at secondary level. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered that the Government plans to publish the results of its call for evidence shortly alongside a consultation on draft regulations and associated guidance.
  • Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked what assessment has been made of the time needed for training teachers to deliver effectively the new [RSE] curriculum due to be introduced in September. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered that the results of a call for evidence on the scope and content of relationships education, relationships and sex education and the status of PSHE education will be published shortly. He added that the Department for Education is using evidence gathered from the engagement exercise to determine what resources, training and additional support should be available to teachers to deliver high quality teaching.
  • Sir Patrick Mcloughlin asked the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) what steps his Department has taken to safeguard the welfare of children who use social media. Margot James answered that the protection of children and young people from online risks remains one of this government’s top priorities. To that end the Government published the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in October 2017. The DCMS is also working closely with the Department for Education to develop online aspects of the new relationships education and relationships and sex education curriculum.
  • In a discussion about the Government’s LGBT action plan, Maria Miller asked whether the minister for women and equalities could update the house on the progress the Government have made on delivering statutory sex and relationships education. Minister Penny Mordaunt answered that the Government has made a commitment to relationships education at primary school level and relationships and sex education at secondary school level.
  • During a debate on the topic of sexual harassment of women and girls in public places, Tulip Siddiq asked what evidence the Government has that shows their work has had the desired effect in preventing sexual harassment. Minister Victoria Atkins said that the relationships education programme has not yet been introduced and therefore there is currently no firm evidence on its effectivity. Tulip Siddiq then asked whether the delay in introducing compulsory relationships and sex education had affected efforts to address social norms on sexual harassment. The Minister answered that the introduction of the programme requires schools to be given sufficient time to implement the changes.
  • Sarah Champion asked what the reasons are for a rumoured extension of the timetable for the implementation of statutory relationships and sex education from September 2019 to September 2020. Nick Gibb answered that the introduction of statutory RSE and relationships education is an important change to the curriculum that must be carefully considered and delivered. It is therefore essential that schools are given enough time to plan and prepare.

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