Examination of Witnesses (Questions 122-139)|
10 FEBRUARY 2005
Q122 Chairman: Good morning, everybody.
Can I explain that this morning's session is partly reviewing
our Sexual Health Report and the progress made since we produced
that report 18 months ago and looking at certain issues around
HIV and AIDS. For the first part of the morning we have got a
witness, Julie Bramman, from the Department for Education and
Skills. We are very pleased that you have been able to come before
us. Would you briefly introduce yourself to the Committee, Ms
Ms Bramman: I am Julie Bramman.
I am Head of Curriculum, Specialism and Collaboration at the DfES.
Q123 Chairman: I think you are aware
that when we undertook our inquiry, we did take evidence from
your Department and one of the areas of concern to us in sexual
health was a feeling that part of the problem that we have in
what we described as a `crisis' at the time and what our witnesses
in the last couple of sessions have said has got worse was partly
down to the lack of preparedness among children and young people,
and I think there was a feeling that our sex education is too
little and it is too late. We certainly got evidence that where
there was good-quality education, it appeared to delay the onset
of sexual activity, so, despite what people think, that if they
are explicit and talk to children at a younger age, they will
"do it", the evidence actually was completely the opposite.
As you are aware, we made some recommendations about including
sex education in the core curriculum. Obviously I am aware that
since we made those recommendations the Ofsted report has come
out a little while ago which was quite critical. What do you feel
can be done arising from the Ofsted report and arising from our
thoughts about this issue, bearing in mind that we certainly see
that what is happening appears to be even worse now in terms of
STIs and STDs, the overall problems of sexual health, than it
was when we looked at the situation 18 months ago?
Ms Bramman: I think the key points
that come out of the Ofsted report are around teacher confidence
and teacher competence in actually teaching sex and relationship
education within PSHE. Where they were looking at specialist teachers,
they found really good practice there both across the primary
and the secondary sectors, and I think that our priorities have
been to increase the level of competence we have and the number
of specialist teachers we have who have PSHE as a specialism.
Within that, we are running a continuing professional development
accreditation process and we have 2,000 teachers on that this
year and we have places for a further 2,000 next year. We think
that that is really what we need to be doing, making it part of
a specialist process, which it has not traditionally been, with
geography and history, as it is quite clearly a specialist subject,
rather than leaving it to form tutors which seems to be the majority
of practice at the moment.
Q124 Chairman: Are you weathered to the
concept that it has to be teachers because one of the things that
we generally wrestled with was whether there might be more appropriate
people from outside to come into schools? I have talked to health
professionals in my own area where use is made of them by the
schools and I think some of them feel that they may be better
able to do the job, which is not in many areas being done, than
teaching staff. The picture we got from many of our young witnesses
was that the staff were ill-prepared and embarrassed, and the
pupils picked that up, and that often the feeling was that perhaps
somebody from outside would be more appropriate. I have seen in
the past in young offender institutions health visitors and midwives
go in and talk to some of the lads in, I think, a very helpful
way from an outside perspective, not somebody based within that
institution, and I felt that that offered a model which we might
be looking at.
Ms Bramman: Most certainly. We
are also running an accreditation programme for community nurses
now and have in the first year over 300 community nurses on the
scheme to enable them to teach in schools or present in front
of a class, as they are not to use the word "teach",
as well as encouraging co-location of health services into schools
for our Extended Schools programme, including the full service
of extended schools, of which there are over 100 at the moment.
We have set out in our strategy in one of the five aims that the
Department has for young children and young adults, that of being
healthy. I think we are forging much closer links with the Department
of Health to achieve that objective and clearly it is very much
in our minds as a way forward. The general workforce reforms that
we are looking at, as a Department, encourage lots of para-professionals
into schools so that it is not so much the domain of teachers.
Q125 Chairman: In terms of the relationship
between education and health, can you just briefly describe whether
the steps that are being taken which you have just mentioned are
primarily being driven at national and ministerial level or is
it that you are encouraging these relationships at a local level
with schools and PCTs or is it both?
Ms Bramman: I think it is both
and I think, particularly through the Healthy Schools initiative
that we have where it is regionally based and we have set out
some very clear strands and objectives that we have within the
Healthy Schools agenda, that is encouraging local networking.
It is one of the things that the Ofsted report picked up on, that
very good connections were being made locally between the health
services and schools and that was a good thing on both sides.
Q126 Chairman: So at a ministerial level,
and obviously, as you appreciate, we have got the Minister coming
here, who do you relate to in the Department of Health? Where
is the connection? It is a big department, so who are the people
who are driving it forward from your point of view?
Ms Bramman: It is very wide-ranging.
The two departments now have a protocol on how they will work
together and what their joint priorities are. With regard to the
curriculum in schools, we are setting up a joint Healthy Schools
team which will sit within the Department of Health building,
but will have DfES officials as part of it as well, so it really
is very much joint working and we work closely with our Young
People health colleagues on a wide range of issues, not just sexual
health obviously, but drugs and many other aspects that come within
the PSHE and other parts of the curriculum.
Q127 Chairman: So there is a good working
relationship between the departments in moving this forward?
Ms Bramman: Yes, there is.
Q128 Chairman: In terms of structures
that you work to, the Public Health White Paper proposed certain
changes at Cabinet level. I am not going to ask you to comment
on those, but can you anticipate all the changes that might take
place structurally that would be helpful to that working relationship
moving forward, as we are talking about this morning?
Ms Bramman: Structurally, in the
Department we are looking at how we can better co-ordinate across
our own structure on health issues because clearly it covers from
early years, from SureStart right through to Lifelong Learning
and we are very aware that at the moment we have, for want of
a better word, lots of silos that could be far better co-ordinated
in our interface with the Department of Health, but officials
have met recently to discuss how we might restructure ourselves
so that we can interface better and reporting through to individual
Q129 Dr Taylor: You mentioned that you
are getting some accredited community nurses and you are getting
accredited teachers. Is there any evidence, any pointer, as to
which are more effective?
Ms Bramman: Not to my knowledge.
Q130 Dr Taylor: Any comments from students
who have had both types of teaching?
Ms Bramman: The only feedback
I would know about is around the confidentiality with community
nurses. It is clearly easier in some respects for young people
to talk to someone they are not in contact with within the school
full-time and, therefore, I think it is a different relationship.
Q131 Dr Taylor: With the 2,000 teachers
in training for accreditation, are these from a wide range of
other subjects or are they people who are going to be absolute
specialists in teaching PSHE?
Ms Bramman: It is both. Some are
taking it as their main specialism, so they will be PSHE teachers
and will teach across the school age. Others are taking it as
a second specialism.
Q132 Dr Taylor: Would the pure specialists
go round different schools or would they just be attached to one
Ms Bramman: They will be attached
to one school, but we encourage very much collaboration between
schools through many of our other programmes, such as the Specialist
Schools and Leadership Incentive Grant and Excellence In Cities,
very much on the theme of collaboration.
Q133 Dr Taylor: So if you had got a specialist,
you would make the most of that person?
Ms Bramman: We would expect the
most to be made of that person, yes.
Q134 Dr Taylor: The paper we had from
Ofsted dated January 2005 actually said that some schools do not
provide PSHE in any form and it goes on to say that the position
of these schools is untenable. What are you doing about that?
Ms Bramman: That would be picked
up in the individual school's report. This was a subject report
of course, but when Ofsted visits for a whole school inspection,
it will be picked up there and become part of the conversation
that we had under the new relationship with schools and we will
clearly have to have very serious conversations with the school
about ensuring it has adequate PSHE just as in the same way as
if it did not have adequate mathematics or English.
Q135 Dr Taylor: So that would be enforced
Ms Bramman: It would be enforced
pretty quickly. The report was unhelpfully not specific.
Q136 Chairman: I think you have also
accepted in what you have said before that having a form tutor
doing the PSHE role as well as everything else he or she has got
to do is not acceptable.
Ms Bramman: What I said is that
it is probably not best practice. I had not said that it is not
Q137 Dr Taylor: And you will aim to replace
that by these accredited teachers, so how far will 2,000 accredited
teachers go across the country?
Ms Bramman: There are around 3,000
secondary schools, and many more primaries of course.
Dr Taylor: Moving on, we talked to a
number of young people during our inquiry and there was the definite
feeling that it is okay to talk about sex and sexual health, but
you have got to have the round, full picture and you have got
to go into relationships because one without the other is certainly
lacking something. Is there any evidence to say that this is actually
being covered by PSHE or SREI get muddled up with the initialsthat
it is the relationship that leads to the sexual activity which
is so incredibly important, so is that being taken up?
Q138 Chairman: Can I just say that we
actually suggested that SRE should become RSE for reasons that
you might understand. Maybe it is indicative of the age of the
Committee, I do not know, and probably we are a bit old-fashioned,
but we put that forward as a serious suggestion.
Ms Bramman: Well, it is sex and
relationship education and we do underline the relationship aspects
within all of the guidance that we produce. That is why it is
so important to teach it within PSHE rather than as something
that is separate or just the science aspects of sex.
Q139 Dr Taylor: The fact that young people
raised it with us made us wonder how effective that amalgamation
was, but obviously you are aware of it.
Ms Bramman: We are aware of it
and it is something, as I said, that we cover in all resources
and the guidance that we produce.