Parents and pupils call for statutory PSHE to ensure 'a curriculum for life' for all pupils

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New calls from pupils and parents for statutory PSHE education are included in a report launched today by the PSHE Association which outlines the case for the subject to be a mandatory part of the curriculum.

According to new YouGov polling, 90% of parents agree that PSHE education should be taught in all schools.  This is the first time parental support for statutory PSHE has reached 90% - a major milestone. 

At the same time, young people have again expressed a need for lessons to help them negotiate life’s challenges and opportunities. 967,000 young people voted in this year’s UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) campaign to choose UKYP’s priorities for the year ahead. The results were released on Friday, with a ‘curriculum for life’ and ‘compulsory mental health education’ voted as two of the three most important topics amongst young people.

This latest support further strengthens the case for statutory PSHE, as outlined in the PSHE Associations new report, ‘A curriculum for life: the case for statutory PSHE education’. This report brings together compelling evidence that high-quality PSHE education helps to keep children and young people safe, mentally and physically healthy and prepare them for life and work. The report also highlights support for statutory status from expert bodies, pupils, parents, teachers, business leaders and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, with data from the Dods public affairs agency suggesting that 73% of members of Parliament support statutory PSHE and only 14% are against.

While the ‘A Curriculum for life’ report is focused on national policymakers, it - and our summary of evidence - will also be helpful for PSHE professionals when making the case for the subject in their schools and local areas. The report will provide many ideas on how to do this but if you are a member of the Association please do contact us if you would like further support with doing so.

Joe Hayman, PSHE Association Chief Executive said:

“We should have high expectations of every element of our children’s education, and yet for years we have tolerated standards of provision in PSHE which are simply not good enough. When taught effectively, PSHE education can meet the calls from pupils and parents for ‘a curriculum for life’, but only statutory status will bring the rigour we need. We’ve reached a tipping point that Ministers can no longer ignore. It is time to listen to parents and pupils and make the subject compulsory.”

Referencing the finding that 90% of parents support statutory PSHE, Emma Williams, Executive Director, PTA UK said:

“PTA UK welcomes these findings, which complement our recent survey which told us that 90% of parents polled feel that a good education goes beyond exam results. As the leading parent teacher association body, we support the campaign to ensure all our children are given the chance to develop these important life skills as a statutory part of the curriculum. We particularly welcome this chance to enhance our children’s wellbeing through a partnership between schools and parents.” 

Julia Peters, Girlguiding Young Advocate said:

“PSHE is the one subject that prepares children for the rest of their lives yet it’s often cut from the timetable to make space for other subjects. This is why it’s so important to have statutory PSHE which covers so many areas, from bullying to healthy relationships.

Right now children are getting their image of a ‘perfect relationship’ from the internet, music videos, films and their friends’ experience. This is often not age appropriate or an accurate representation of real life. This is just one example but there are many more arguments why PSHE is so important. Having time in school set aside to inform children and young people about issues and situations which they may encounter in their future is something that the government should be actively seeking to put into place.”


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