The Sunday Times reported this weekend that the Department for Education has drawn up proposals to ensure schools teach sex and relationships education (SRE).
This is the latest in a number of recent encouraging indications that the Government is considering significant measures in order to improve the status of PSHE education, the subject through which sex and relationships education (SRE) is delivered.
The PSHE Association has been campaigning heavily in recent years to make PSHE education statutory on the curriculum in all schools. This is supported by 92% of parents, 92% of pupils, 85% of business leaders, 88% of teachers, the Children’s Commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child sexual abuse, Public Health England, 100 leading organisations and politicians from across the political spectrum.
Commenting on the latest developments, PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said:
“It is encouraging that the DfE is seriously considering making historic change to the curriculum. The issues discussed in the Sunday Times report – such as teaching about consent, the dangers of pornography, sexual harassment – are key to sex and relationships education within a broader PSHE education. PSHE is also central to schools fulfilling their safeguarding responsibilities.
It is vital to note however that PSHE education doesn’t end at SRE. As our joint statement with the Sex Education Forum points out, PSHE education in its entirety must be made statutory to be most effective, with SRE as a core element. PSHE education develops essential skills and attributes – such as self-esteem, media literacy, managing risk and resisting peer pressure – which pupils can apply to a range of areas, including online safety, emotional wellbeing, healthy lifestyles and preparing for the world of work.
Our key principles for statutory PSHE education explain that PSHE in its entirety must be statutory and must apply to all state schools, including academies and free schools. We look forward to discussing this further with the DfE when they are considering details of how to make the most of this huge opportunity.”