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Why PSHE should be made compulsory in schools

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s controversial decision to reject the recommendation to make personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) statutory in UK schools has left many feeling frustrated and disappointed. Choosing to ignore the advice of numerous education, health and business leaders, in a time when mental health, domestic abuse, internet safety and radicalisation are such hot topics, she has potentially put the future of thousands of young people at risk.

Morgan’s comment regarding ‘Ofsted’s finding that 40% of PSHE teaching is less than good’ surely undermines her decision. In schools that currently choose to teach PSHE, there is frequently a distinct lack of training, support and resources for teachers who are too often already struggling with workloads. By making PSHE and SRE a compulsory part of the national curriculum and therefore under inspection by Ofsted, teaching staff would have to receive adequate training and support in the same way they would for ‘core’ subjects, thus raising standards.

In my experience of attending an all-girls convent secondary school, PSHE and sex education were practically non-existent until sixth form when, many would argue, it is too late. I can unreservedly say that high quality PSHE would have had a huge impact on my peers and me at my secondary school in our formative years. It is vital that young people have access to age appropriate PSHE to ensure that they are prepared for life post-school and that they possess the skills needed for employment.

There are endless studies to show the strong links between social and emotional learning programmes and academic success. The PSHE Association outlines many of these findings in their Case for Statutory PSHE. Furthermore, Ofsted’s national lead for PSHE education, Janet Palmer, wrote an article in 2015 stating that effective PSHE is ‘more crucial than ever’ to the outcomes of school inspections, which makes Morgan’s decision even more frustrating.

ASDAN fully supports the recommendation for statutory PSHE and SRE, as well as the drive to raise standards of PSHE provision in schools across the country. We offer a wide range of imaginative and engaging PSHE programmes for young people of all abilities to support and accredit development. Our PSHE Short Course accredits up to 60 hours of PSHE activity across seven topic areas including Social Relationships, Careers and Your Future and Intimate Relationships. Additionally, our Personal and Social Development (PSD) qualification offers imaginative activities and personal challenges that support young people in becoming confident individuals who are physically, emotionally and socially healthy. To find out more, visit the ASDAN website.

Author: Emma Jones, ASDAN Digital Marketing Officer


Jemma Davies, ASDAN

10.28am, 12 February 2016

Fully agree – especially regarding PSHE subject training for teachers. To assume that just because someone is a teacher they are equipped to delivery PSHE does nothing for students' (and the public's) perception of the subject. If PSHE was made compulsory and additional funding was given to teachers who opted to train as PSHE specialists, the subject would have more status and currency in schools and in general. This is important curriculum content that is vital for the health, wellbeing, happiness and success of young people – to see the recommendation to make it compulsory dismissed is a huge disappointment.

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