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'Opportunity missed' to make PSHE education statutory

PSHE Association

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PSHE Association: Government misses opportunity to make PSHE education statutory and tackle sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools


The Government has responded today to the Women and Equalities Committee report into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools. The report called for statutory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education – including sex and relationships education (SRE) – amongst its extensive recommendations.

The Government response stated that the case for further action regarding statutory PSHE and SRE is “actively under review” but failed to make any further commitment to strengthening the subject’s status at this stage.

The Committee’s report had highlighted the extent of sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools and highlighted an inconsistency in how schools approach these issues and how they meet their legal obligations as well as a lack of guidance and support for teachers to deal with these issues effectively.

PSHE Association Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley said:

“We are disappointed that the Government hasn’t taken the opportunity presented by the Women and Equalities Committee report into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools to make PSHE education, including comprehensive sex and relationships education, statutory. The report’s recommendation was very strong in this regard as was its evidence for the shocking extent of the issue and the key role that statutory PSHE could play in addressing it. 

While we are pleased that the Government recognised the importance of PSHE education in its response, and is “actively reviewing” options to improve quality and accessibility, the fact remains that thousands of young people are missing out on these vital lessons due to the subject’s decreasing status on the curriculum. Only statutory status will help to arrest and reverse this decline in all schools and we call on the Government to take this step at the earliest available opportunity.

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