Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140-150)|
10 FEBRUARY 2005
Q140 John Austin: There is a lot of difference
in the figures as to what age sex education begins, but certainly
I think there is general agreement that relationships education
starts at the very earliest stage. It is relationships education
which is the most important and when children get to a certain
age, then the sexual side of that comes in, does it not?
Ms Bramman: I think that is very
right and the evidence that we had back from the QCA monitoring
reports on the subject tells us quite clearly that primary schools
rank PHSE as their fifth most important subject behind English,
maths, science and ICT, so I think that that gives some indication
of how important primary schools generally understand about developing
the whole child and, within that, including understanding relationships.
We are currently, through QCA, consulting on Key Stage 1 and Key
Stage 2 end-of-stage assessments in PSHE so that we can guide
teachers about what a child of that age typically should understand
and know about relationships as well as the other aspects of the
Q141 Mr Bradley: Is it, therefore, the
intention to make such teaching a compulsory part of the curriculum?
Ms Bramman: We are not intending
to make PSHE statutory. We do not think that that is necessary
or possibly even desirable in terms of continuing to allow schools
flexibility on how to deliver PSHE and, within that, SRE in consultation
with parents and the communities that they serve, but there is
a clear expectation that PSHE should be delivered, so I do not
think there is an intention to change the statutory basis of it,
but clearly we expect it to be delivered.
Q142 Mr Bradley: Yes, but expectation
and having it as part of the curriculum, there could be huge gaps,
therefore, in the provision, could there not?
Ms Bramman: That is what Ofsted
inspections will tell us. What we are coming up with is a non-statutory
framework for PSHE covering guidance and best practice, as I have
said, around the Key Stage end-of-stage assessments throughout
all of the Key Stages to give further guidance on how teachers
should be delivering and monitoring and assessing the progress
of their pupils.
Q143 Dr Taylor: Ofsted have said that
it is untenable not to have PSHE and you tended to agree with
me when I brought that up, but then you said that you are not
going to make it obligatory. It has got to be obligatory, has
Ms Bramman: At the moment PSHE
is not part of the statutory national curriculum, and sex and
relationship education is statutory, but what is not statutory
is the content.
Q144 Dr Taylor: So SRE is?
Ms Bramman: Yes, it is statutory.
It has a statutory basis with
Q145 Dr Taylor: So is SRE not the most
important bit of PSHE?
Ms Bramman: I think that might
depend on which committee you are sitting in front of!
Q146 Dr Taylor: Should they not both
cover the same thing?
Ms Bramman: PSHE is wider than
sex and relationship education. It will also cover things like
drugs education, for instance, and wider health issues and wider
social issues that relate to an individual.
Dr Taylor: It seems to be absolutely
obvious that SRE and drugs education ought to be obligatory, the
whole lot, ought it not? That is certainly my view.
Q147 Chairman: Your title as head of
various things included collaboration.
Ms Bramman: That is right.
Q148 Chairman: I am not sure whether
Richard touched on this because I was talking to a colleague when
he asked his first question, but one of the things that really
impressed us in the sexual health inquiry was the TicTac project
which no doubt you are familiar with in Paignton and there are
other similar models in different parts of the country.
Ms Bramman: Yes.
Q149 Chairman: I wonder whether you felt
able to encourage that sort of approach through your responsibilities
at a local level because it struck me that in my own area that
would really be so beneficial. I think all of us who went there
really felt it was a model that ought to be looked at and it was
doing a really first-class job, not just in terms of sexual health,
but wider support and advice to youngsters going through adolescence.
Ms Bramman: We are encouraging
that kind of project to be co-located with schools where schools
wish to do it. Clearly it is a matter for individual schools rather
than the Department whether or not to go down that track, but
it is something that we encourage. We have, through the Teenage
Pregnancy Unit, produced guidance and materials about this which
include case studies, like the TicTac project and the benefits
of it, and our understanding is that that kind of co-location
is continuing to blossom really.
Q150 Chairman: Can you see that as a
logical kind of extension of the collaboration that you described
at a local level?
Ms Bramman: Absolutely and a logical
extension of the Extended Schools policy where we are looking
for schools to become the heart of their local community and co-locating
health and social services as well as other activities for the
pupils and parents to do.
Chairman: Can I thank you, Ms Bramman,
for this brief session; we are most grateful to you. You are very
welcome to stay for the rest of the session if you want. Thank
you very much.