This week the Department for Education launched a call for evidence on PSHE and RSE. Moreover, a new evidence review concluded that PSHE education supports academic success, the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper was launched and the Government also presented its new Careers Strategy. The Centre for Mental Health published an evaluation of Project Future. Moreover, the DfE launched advice for schools on dealing with sexual violence and harassment between children and Justine Greening presented the Government’s new social mobility strategy. Brook and CEOP officially launched their Digital Romance report, which they presented previously at the PSHE Association Annual Conference 2017. Finally, minister Nick Gibb answered various written questions on the topics of PSHE and RSE.
Department for Education launches call for evidence on PSHE and RSE
On December 19th the Department for Education (DfE) launched an 8 week call for evidence on PSHE and Relationships & Sex Education (RSE). This followed Government commitments in this year’s Children and Social Work Act to make RSE statutory in all secondary schools from 2019, make ‘relationships education’ statutory in all primaries, and to consider statutory status for PSHE education in its entirety.
The DfE is very keen to get young people’s input, so we’ve created free resources for those of you teaching KS3&4 to run a feedback-gathering session in the new year with your students. The PSHE Association has welcomed the call for evidence, but emphasised the need for statutory status to apply to the whole of PSHE education, including but not limited to RSE.
PSHE education supports academic success according to major evidence review
A new evidence review by Pro Bono Economics highlights ‘very strong evidence’ that high quality PSHE learning ‘has a positive impact on academic attainment’.
The independent review examined national and international evidence in order to determine the degree to which PSHE’s impact on students’ health – both physical and mental – and behaviour might lead to greater academic attainment and improved life chances in adulthood. The evidence then links these positive outcomes to improved academic attainment: by helping young people to be healthier, happier and safer, PSHE enables them to do better in school.
The evidence suggests that PSHE education also directly supports young people – particularly the socio-economically disadvantaged – in succeeding academically by developing skills and attributes such as confidence and positive risk-taking, which enable young people to excel.
DfE launches advice on dealing with sexual violence and harassment between children
On December 15th the Department for Education published advice on how to identify sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges, and on how to minimise risks and deal with incidents that occur. The guidance document elaborates on the role of education in prevention and emphasises the role that PSHE education and RSE plays in school efforts to embed this through the curriculum – including a featured case study school that planned their work using the PSHE Association programme of study for PSHE.
Green Paper Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision launched
On December 4th the Health and Education Secretaries jointly launch the Government’s Green Paper on mental health, part of the Government’s work to transform mental health support. The paper discusses the role of schools in the strategy, including designated school leads for mental health and whole-school approaches, with references to PSHE education’s role within this. Visit the Government site for more details on the paper and how to contribute to the consultation by 2nd March 2018.
Department for Education unveils new Careers Strategy
Minister for Skills Anne Milton has launched the Government’s new Careers Strategy on December 4th. She said that “it matters to me that we give people from all backgrounds the best possible preparation to move into a job, or training that enables them – whatever their background or wherever they live – to have a fulfilling life”.
The strategy mentions the role PSHE education plays in teaching children and young people about careers education, employability and enterprise. Moreover, it mentions that the “Government will consider whether PSHE education (or elements of it) should be mandatory in schools” following the passage of the Children and Social Work Bill through parliament.
Centre for Mental Health publishes an independent evaluation of Project Future
On December 5th the Centre for Mental Health published its Unlocking the Future report, an independent evaluation of Project Future. The project - which aims to improve young people’s wellbeing, access to services, and education, employment and training opportunities and strives to reduce marginalisation and offending – has been evaluated over the past three years.
While the evaluation shows that the young people who have been involved in the Project have seen their wellbeing improve significantly, the Centre for Mental Health recommends further steps be taken. It says that “the Department for Education should embed ‘life lessons’ into the PSHE curriculum and consult with young people to find alternatives to school exclusions.”
Brook and CEOP launch Digital Romance report
On December 12, Brook and CEOP published a joint report on how digital technology shapes the ways in which young people relate to each other in romance, sex and relationships. The research looks at both the positives and negatives of using technology. Many of the 2,000 surveyed young people described benefits to using technology – for instance meeting someone online they later start seeing – but responses also showed that technology adds new pressures and risks to young people’s relationships, particularly for girls. Around 36% of girls have come under the pressure to send nude photos of themselves for example, whilst 14% of girls have experienced verbal abuse or threats online from partners during a relationship.
Department for Education launches social mobility strategy
On December 14th, Justine Greening unveiled an education action plan to improve social mobility. The report, Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential¸ sets out a series of measurements that aim to improve equality of opportunity for every child, regardless of where they live. The plan focusses on improving language and literacy skills in early years, on closing the attainment gap and on offering everyone good access to high quality follow-up education or rewarding careers. The PSHE Association argues that PSHE education also plays an important role in social mobility and wrote a briefing on this point last year.
- Heidi Allen asked what progress the Department is making on updating relationships and sex guidance. Nick Gibb answered that the Department wants to help all schools deliver high quality Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and PSHE so that all young people are equipped with the skills to have healthy and respectful relationships. He added that it is “currently conducting a thorough and wide-ranging engagement with stakeholders, which will help us reach an evidence-based decision on PSHE, as well as determine the content of the regulations and statutory guidance”.
- Lisa Cameron asked what steps the Department is taking to include mental wellbeing in the national curriculum. Nick Gibb answered that there are no plans to make changes to the national curriculum, but the Department is considering how it can build on the strong existing base of what schools already do to promote good mental health and wellbeing. In particular, it is working on developing regulations and guidance for mandatory Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools. The role of physical and mental well-being in forming and maintaining healthy relationship will be a part of this.
- Layla Moran asked what discussions the Secretary of State for Education has had with students and young people on improving relationships and sex education in schools. Nick Gibb answered that it’s the part of the Government’s duty to introduce mandatory Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools. The Department has begun a wide-ranging, thorough engagement with stakeholders to make decisions on the content of the regulations and the statutory guidance for both subject, and to consider the status of PSHE education further. It also plans to consult young people as part of this engagement process.
- Sir Henry Bellingham asked what progress is being made on the implementation of the curriculum elements required by provisions of the Children and Social Work Act 2017. Nick Gibb answered that the Children and Social Work Act requires the Government to make provisions for statutory Relationships Education in primary schools and Sex and Relationships in secondary schools. It also gives the power to make PSHE education mandatory in all schools. The Department has begun an engagement process with stakeholders to help draft guidance and the content of the regulations, as well as further consideration of the status of PSHE.
- Vicky Foxcroft asked what steps the Department for Education is taking to ensure all schools teach awareness of violence against women and girls. Nick Gibb answered that following the Government response to the Women and Equalities select committee report into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools, the Department is considering how to ensure that pupils learn about healthy and respectful relationships as part of Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools. The engagement process with stakeholders to help reach evidence-based decisions on the content of regulations and guidance for both subjects as well as further considerations on the status of PSHE has commenced.