Memorandum submitted by the PSHE Association (CS 33)

 

The PSHE Association is the national subject association for all professionals working in personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. Our mission is to raise the status, quality and impact of PSHE education and enable high quality teaching and learning for all children and young people

 

'Our pupils have a right to a clear and explicit PSHE curriculum. The quality of their inclusion in society will be largely dependent on their knowledge and understanding of their rights and responsibilities in life. It is crucial to their self-esteem, happiness and safety'. [Special school headteacher]

 

The PSHE Association supports the proposal to make statutory the area of learning 'understanding physical development, health and well-being' (UPHW) in primary schools and the subject 'personal, social, health and economic' (PSHE) education in secondary schools Bill. Our members believe that making PSHE education statutory will support them in delivering an appropriate and relevant curriculum that helps children and young people grow and develop as individuals and as members of families and of social and economic communities. 

 

The flexibility allowed by the proposal promotes a national entitlement for all children and young people which can be planned by schools to take account of local data on, for example, teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol misuse, employment and personal debt and delivered in the context of the ethos, values, faith and opinions of the school community.

In producing this submission the PSHE Association draws on the views of teachers and their pupils.

 

 

Clause 10 - Areas of learning

'PSHE is important because it helps us to understand people's feelings. In understanding feelings we know it's ok to feel angry, sad and annoyed but we have to control these feelings and not let them affect others....'

[10 year old]

 

The PSHE Association supports the introduction of a new primary curriculum which will aid progression from the early years and foundation stage curriculum, provide an appropriate and positive learning framework for ages 5 to 11 and prepare children for learning at key stage 3. We believe that by making statutory the area of learning Understanding physical development, health and well being parliament will be promoting children's health and wellbeing, helping them to stay safe, enabling them to develop positive and appropriate relationships, preparing them to manage their money and helping them begin to understand the world of work.

 

 

Clause 11 - PSHE in maintained schools

'As a result of our PSHE education lessons pupils are more confident, more successful, they are able to deal with new situations, they have the skills to manage situations that might prevent them learning, they can assess risks, they are better at self motivating, they can express themselves better - they are just more confident' [Secondary school headteacher]

 

The PSHE Association strongly supports making PSHE education a statutory requirement. A survey of our members showed that 97% of teachers want this because it will secure an entitlement for children and young people, parity of status with other subjects, more investment in teacher training and increase the quality of teaching and learning. Young people report that where they receive high quality lessons taught by teachers trained in the delivery of PSHE education they feel prepared to deal with the opportunities and challenges of life now and in the future, better able to talk to their parents and other adults about sensitive issues and problems and feel more responsible in decision-making. By making PSHE education statutory parliament is removing the 'post code lottery' that currently exists where some schools provide this important aspect of learning and others do not. It is also

enabling the means for much needed specialist workforce development to ensure universally high standards of teaching and learning.

Whilst the PSHE Association supports the view that there should be no attainment targets at this stage, it is clear that assessment appropriate to the subject should be developed by schools in order that pupils' progress can be tracked and to inform future teaching and learning. Assessment is a means of checking that pupils have learnt what was intended. It should not be confused with testing. The PSHE Association does, however, support the retention of power to specify attainment targets or assessment arrangements should it be found at a later date to be necessary. Too little is currently known about effective assessment in PSHE education for this to be completely ruled out at this stage.

The PSHE Association strongly supports the three principles for PSHE education that are included in this clause. They will support schools in developing a curriculum that is appropriate to their learners and supportive of the families and communities they serve.

The PSHE Association supports the removal of sex education as a separate subject in the basic curriculum and placing it within wider PSHE education.

 

Clause 12 - PSHE in Academies etc.

'Our Academy sees the development of world class citizens as our fundamental driver. If we achieve that we will make a significant contribution to society and PSHE education is at the heart of this.' [Academy headteacher]

 

The PSHE Association welcomes the clause that states that Academies should not be exempt from teaching PSHE education.

 

 

Clause 13 - Sex and relationships education: manner of provision

'It gives us the chance to talk about relationships in a safe environment. They can be awkward to talk about but in PSHE we tackle them and learn how to deal with difficult situations' [14 year old]

 

The PSHE Association agrees with the renaming of sex education as sex and relationships education (SRE). The emphasis on relationships will help to protect children from harmful relationships and better promote the development of a strong framework of values, an understanding of what constitutes positive and stable relationships and more responsible and informed decision-making.

 

 

Clause 14 - Exemption from sex and relationships education

'PSHE gives us vital information and skills. Teenagers may find it difficult to talk to their parents about sex and PSHE can help them to talk to them' [15 year old]

 

The PSHE Association supports the proposal to reduce the age limit from 19 years to 15 years. This will ensure that it is Human Rights compliant and that all young people will receive at least one year of SRE before the legal age of consent and marriage.

The PSHE Association does, however, believe that schools should work in partnership with parents so that they develop SRE that is appropriate to the values and faith of the community. This way it is less likely that parents will want to withdraw their children. In the very rare event that parents should want to withdraw their children from this important area of learning the PSHE Association believes that there should be a face to face conversation to clarify from what aspect they wish to withdraw, to make clear which aspects of SRE are within the science programmes of study and are therefore exempt from the right of withdrawal and to discuss how the children and young people's entitlement will be met through alternative means.

Schools will need detailed guidance to help them to build and maintain effective relationships with parents in relation to this sensitive area of the curriculum.

 

 

Other issues raised in debate:

 

Time allocations

No curriculum subject has a curriculum time allocation determined by government. PSHE education should be no different. It should be for schools to decide how to organize their curriculum and how much time to allocate to each subject.

 

Name

There has been much discussion about the name of the subject. After extensive consultation no appropriate alternative name has been found. The suggested Life Skills title would not convey the breadth of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education and detracts from the fact that there is a considerable body of knowledge to be acquired in addition to skills development. Life Skills is also associated with a commercially published resource. The PSHE Association suggests that, rather than change the name, which would itself cause confusion, efforts are better channeled into promoting understanding of the meaning and importance of the existing one. Of course, schools would be free to continue to use any name they wish for this area of the curriculum.

 

 

Implementation

 

The PSHE Association will work with its members to implement the new requirements. It will find and disseminate examples of effective practice and put every effort into ensuring that the new legislation has the most positive impact possible on children and young people's lives.

 

January 2010