Teachers join growing calls for statutory PSHE

Momentum continues to build for statutory PSHE education with three major teaching unions - NUT, ATL and NAHT – adding their support for compulsory status.  This support for statutory PSHE from teachers and school leaders may alleviate concerns amongst politicians that schools would feel overburdened if the subject was made compulsory. The unions’ messages suggest that the right balance between statutory entitlement and flexibility for schools can be struck.

In a statement this week, Russell Hobby, General Secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said he was heartened by the Secretary of State's positive comments about PSHE in a recent TES interview.

Mr Hobby added: “Nicky Morgan asked whether statutory PSHE would be a burden for schools. NAHT believes this is one that schools will gladly bear.”

Calling for a statutory entitlement to high quality PSHE education, he echoed Nicky Morgan’s view that Westminster should not be too prescriptive about what was taught in PSHE but that Ms Morgan could be confident that “an effective balance is struck between what children and young people are entitled to and what teachers need to make teaching relevant to their settings.”

His calls were followed by a statement from Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary, who said: “Making PSHE statutory is the key to raising its status and improving provision. At present PSHE has too little time in the curriculum, and is almost always accorded very low status and few resources in schools.”

Ms Blower highlighted a recent NUT member survey in which over 88% of respondents said that they believed PSHE should be a statutory part of the National Curriculum.

Speaking on behalf of ATL, Dr Wanda Wyporska, Lead Equalities Officer said that “PSHE is vitally important and should be a discrete statutory subject within a whole-school approach where life skills are embedded across the curriculum”, adding that “teachers need to be supported to become confident in teaching PSHE, which is why we are calling for better initial teacher training in PSHE, ongoing CPD and up-to-date guidance and training on the often complex issues the subject addresses.”

The PSHE Association welcomes these calls. Politicians are often understandably concerned about overburdening schools, but support for statutory PSHE from three major teaching unions this week shows how much teachers - including heads - value the subject and see statutory status as a means of improving provision, not as a means of imposing a strict curriculum on schools.

This support from unions adds to recent calls from a variety of influential sources for statutory PSHE, including Parliamentarians across parties who plan to back Caroline Lucas’ Statutory PSHE Bill in October.

 

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