Mon, 4 December 2023

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The case for statutory PSHE education

Joe Hayman, Chief Executive, PSHE Association | PSHE Association

3 min read Partner content

The PSHE Association Chief Executive launches a new report setting out the latest compelling evidence for making PSHE education a statutory part of the curriculum.

Today, the PSHE Association launches ‘ A curriculum for life ’, a new report setting out the latest compelling evidence for making PSHE education a statutory part of the curriculum. We hope Ministers will consider this evidence as they prepare to respond to the Commons Education Committee’s recommendation that the subject should be given statutory status. The Government has committed to making a decision on this issue by the end of the year, making it a critical moment to make this case.  

The report outlines the strong evidence to show that, when delivered by trained teachers in line with best practice, this ‘curriculum for life’ is popular with children and young people, and parents, and has the potential to help pupils to stay safe, to promote physical and emotional health, to develop character and resilience, to support academic success and to improve pupils’ employment prospects.

Yet this potential is at present unfulfilled: Ofsted’s 2013 report on PSHE education found that lack of basic teacher training in PSHE means the subject is not taught rigorously, with topics such as mental health not covered at all in many schools. As PSHE education is a non-statutory, non-examined subject, it is not held to the same standards as other subjects: PSHE teachers are not given the curriculum time or training they need to deliver lessons to rigorous, professional standards.

We argue in the report that it is critical that we have the highest standards for all parts of our children’s schooling, and that in a 21st century education system, Government should require professional standards in every subject.  The document shows how statutory status would bring that professionalism to PSHE education, ensuring that teachers receive the training and curriculum time necessary to deliver rigorous lessons in all schools. We should not expect anything less.

The campaign for statutory status is supported by a strong majority of MPs including the Commons Education and Home Affairs Committees and the Chair of the Health Committee, by over 100 expert bodies, 85% of business leaders, 90% of parents and, critically, 92% of pupils who have actually received PSHE lessons. In making the case for statutory PSHE education, we refer to a ‘curriculum for life’, the term Members of the Youth Parliament use when calling for improvements in PSHE provision.

967,000 young people have just voted to make ‘a curriculum for life’ a UK Youth Parliament campaign priority for a fourth year in a row. It is time for their voices to be heard.

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Read the most recent article written by Joe Hayman, Chief Executive, PSHE Association - A curriculum for life: the case for statutory PSHE education