PSHE Association welcomes Children’s Commissioner’s focus on skills to keep children safe online

The PSHE Association welcomes today’s report from the Children’s Commissioner highlighting the urgent need for measures to keep children and young people safe and informed when online.

One of the key recommendations relates to the need for all schools to cover digital citizenship in order to help protect pupils from concerns such as online bullying and grooming, while encouraging them to be critical consumers and creators of information online.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said:

“We welcome this report and believe that PSHE education provides a framework through which the skills it calls for can be effectively developed, as part of a holistic approach that addresses healthy and safe relationships, emotional wellbeing and the ability to critically consume information offline as well as in the digital world.

“Though a lot of good work is happening in schools throughout the country it’s clear that provision is patchy and too many pupils miss out. From the statistics in the report we can also see that parents are very concerned about the complexity of these issues and need schools to help. We agree therefore with the NAHT in calling on the Government to make PSHE statutory in order to provide pupils with the regular timetabled lessons they require to stay safe, healthy and informed on these topics.”

Commenting on the report in the TES, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, stressed that statutory PSHE education is the medium through which such digital citizenship should be developed:

"PSHE would provide curriculum space for the discussion of a variety of important issues – not just online safety and digital understanding, but also some of the concerns that children might turn to the internet to learn about, like relationships and sexuality."

Mr Hobby added that: "It is only by tackling these sometimes difficult subjects that we can imbue children with the resilience and understanding that will prepare them for life in a digital world. The government must back teachers by making PSHE a statutory part of the curriculum."

"Schools can play a vital role in protecting children in the digital world by teaching them about their rights and responsibilities online.

"PSHE would provide curriculum space for the discussion of a variety of important issues – not just online safety and digital understanding, but also some of the concerns that children might turn to the internet to learn about, like relationships and sexuality."


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