News Digest 8 – 11 May

This week the Education and Health Select Committees reiterated their call for statutory PSHE in their response to the government mental health Green Paper. The response was later debated in the House of Commons. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney wrote a piece for TES on the importance of economic wellbeing education and various written questions were answered.

Education and Health Committees reiterate call for statutory PSHE
joint report from the cross-party Education and Health and Social Care Committees on the government mental health Green Paper stressed the need for compulsory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education in all schools. Both Committees have recommended compulsory PSHE education in recent years and this report reiterates their call for the Department for Education to take this measure, on this occasion in relation to children’s mental health and contributory factors such as social media use. In his article on the report for PoliticsHome, Education Committee Chair Robert Halfon also stressed that “young people also need social media education to be part of compulsory PSHE” and NEU General Secretary Mary Bousted said “we agree with the Committees that PSHE should be compulsory in all schools.”

Parents, teachers, campaigners and young people themselves have called for compulsory PSHE to address concerns about reduced curriculum time and variable standards. The government is weighing up whether to strengthen the status of PSHE, having so far only committed to making the relationships and sex element of the subject compulsory in all schools.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said:
“The PSHE Association welcomes the committees’ reiteration of the need for government to make PSHE compulsory in all schools. The future of the subject is in the balance, and although strengthening sex and relationships education is overdue and welcome, this isn’t the only aspect of PSHE that’s vital to children’s safety, health and readiness for the modern world. Issues such as mental health and contributory factors such as social media, drugs, physical health and economic literacy can’t be addressed through relationships and sex education alone, so the government must act to make PSHE a statutory curriculum subject in its entirety”

House of Commons debate on select committee response to ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ Green Paper
On 10 May a debate was held in the House of Commons on the Health and Education Select Committees’ response to the Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ Green Paper. Health and Social Care Committee  member Luciana Berger MP, stressed the need for compulsory PSHE which includes teaching on social media.

Bank of England’s Mark Carney writes on need to learn about economic wellbeing
Governor Mark Carney explained in his TES article why the Bank of England is on a mission to demystify economics for young people and support their economic wellbeing. Mr Carney highlighted the recently launched Bank of England econoME teaching resources and that they have received the PSHE Association resource Quality Mark. The benefits of PSHE education were discussed at last week’s econoME launch, with ITV’s Robert Peston commenting that “PSHE is the glue that can hold together the whole curriculum”. Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane also wrote to the Department for Education in recent months urging them to make PSHE compulsory in all schools to increase understand of the economy and economic wellbeing.

Written questions

  • Tracy Brabin asked what information the Department for Education (DfE) holds on the subject content of PSHE and citizenship in primary and secondary schools and if the subject will become a statutory component of the national curriculum. Nick Gibb answered on 9 May that schools can currently choose to teach PSHE. He added that the Department has conducted an engagement process on the content relationships education and RSE, and on the status of PSHE, and plans to consult on draft regulations and accompanying statutory guidance shortly, before laying the regulations in the House for debate. Citizenship remains a National Curriculum subject at secondary schools and is encouraged at primary schools he said.
  • Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked when the DfE plans to publish the draft regulations and public consultation on the new school curriculum in relations to RSE and PSHE. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered on 9 May that the department has recently concluded a through and wide-ranging engagement process. They received over 23,000 responses to the call for evidence that closed on February 12th andalso spoke with interested stakeholders, including teaching Unions, the Sex Education Forum and the PSHE Association. The department plans to consult on draft regulations and accompanying statutory guidance shortly, before laying the regulations in the House for debate.
  • Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked whether the Government considers to commission organisations such as the PSHE Association and Sex Education Forum to provide teacher training on the new curriculum. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered on 9 May that it is important that schools are able to deliver high quality teaching, and that the DfE is using evidence to determine what resources, training and other support should be provided. The department has recently concluded a through and wide-ranging engagement process. It spoke with a wide range of stakeholders including the Sex Education Forum and the PSHE Association and discussions included exploration of support schools will need to deliver quality subjects.
  • Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked what resources have been made available to train teachers on the new curriculum in relation to statutory RSE and PSHE, and whether the department has paid regard to the availability of teachers in designing this training. Lord Agnew of Oulton answered on 9 May that it is important that schools are able to deliver high quality teaching, and that the DfE is using evidence to determine what resources, training and other support should be provided.

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