Government delays decision on statutory PSHE in schools

Published

The Department for Education has delayed making a decision on introducing statutory PSHE in schools, a response labelled "feeble" by the chair of the education select committee.

The government was responding to recommendations made by the select committee in its report Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools, which was published in February.

The report included 14 recommendations on how to improve the quality of PSHE and sex and relationships education – including the call for it to be a statutory part of the curriculum in primary and secondary schools.

However, while acknowledging there was "more that (they could) do" to improve PSHE, the government stopped short of agreeing to this recommendation, merely stating that it would be considered further later in the year.

Neil Carmichael MP, the select committee chair, said: "Ministers entirely sidestep the call made by MPs in the closing months of the last parliament to give statutory status to PSHE.

"They also reject or brush over nearly every other recommendation made by the previous education committee in their key report published five months ago.

"It is unclear why it should have taken the government so long to publish such a feeble response.

"The inquiry found the government’s strategy for improving PSHE and sex and relationships education in schools to be weak. Yet there is nothing in this response to reassure parliament – or young people – that the situation will now improve.

"Ministers know that PSHE requires improvement in 40 per cent of schools, yet they appear to see no urgency in tackling this."

PSHE Association chief executive Joe Hayman added: “We remain committed to working in partnership with government on improving PSHE. Yet it is hard not to be deeply disappointed at another delay in the decision about statutory status because children and young people are missing out on education they want and need.

"Until we have statutory status, we will have no guarantee that pupils will receive lessons on how to stay safe or on preparing for the world of work or that where they do get lessons these will be taught by trained teachers. With that in mind, we call on the government to make its decision on the status of the subject as quickly as possible.”