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In my experience, five things are needed for such a programme and they may happen in all schools only if a subject is statutory. The noble Lord, Lord Fowler, talked about the patchiness of the provision. This is a difficult issue because although some schools put the subject high on the agenda, others do not. The first thing that is needed is strong support from the head teacher and senior staff. Secondly, there should be a designated teacher in charge of co-ordinating PSHE. Thirdly, teacher training must be high on the agenda: teachers cannot just go into a PSHE lesson using formal methods and hope that they will succeed in instructing people how to behave. You cannot teach people how to make decisions; they have to learn how to do it themselves. Fourthly, schools need good resources to teach PSHEagain, some schools have them and make their own, some do not. Finally, there needs to be information to parents about the programme. Some schools do these things brilliantly, including the school where I am a governor. But many do not and will not until PSHE is statutory and there is a policy for it in every school.
I, too, support the formation of a teachers association for PSHEit is an excellent idea. I have always strongly supported the national healthy schools standard programme. It, too, has achieved a great deal. However, it is mainly about health and not about relationships, which are part of decision-making for good health and valuable in helping young people to learn how to make decisions for their own benefit. A comprehensive approach to PSHE is required, and I strongly support it being a statutory programme in schools.
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that to her five admirable requirements should be added a sixth which we appear not to dare name; that is, the absence of the religious lobby, which has prevented the matter being properly taught, as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, said, over the past 20 years?
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I have listened to the admirable speeches that have been made on this subject and, even if I had not been persuaded by this whole debate, I certainly am now. I hope that the Minister will be, too.
As some of your Lordships will know, I was appreciative of citizenship being made a statutory part of the curriculum. I remember our debating how important it would be to teach parentingnot just how you got on with your own parents, but what your thoughts were when you became a parent and what you reckoned your responsibilities were, as well as the enjoyment you were going to get out of it. There seems to be no reason why all these subjects, which are very important in todays world, are not clearly joined up and made a compulsory part of the curriculum. Far more importantly, they should be taught together so that they are not spread about in other parts of other peoples lessons, thereby preventing the message coming across. I agreed with my noble friend Lord Northbourne when he said that children should emerge from the education process feeling comfortable with themselves. That will be important in how they negotiate their way through the world.
However, they will learn so much within their own community about how they can be a more effective part of it and how they can be tolerant of what happens in their own groupings. Bullying was mentioned. It is horrifying to hear how often people who are involved in such activities as caring for disabled, disadvantaged or drug-ridden parents get bullied because they are not in attendance the whole time or for whatever reason they are picked on.
I hope that the Minister will give strong consideration to all three of these amendments. All three of them are important. I remember the time when the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, acted on the HIV/AIDS scare. For the first time, you could see action being takenit had a very good effect indeed. In other areas, the same preventive measures were not taken, and we know what happened.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, we have heard several eloquent speeches in favour of the first two amendments. I shall support the third amendment, Amendment No. 92, in the name of my noble friend Lord Northbourne. He was right to emphasise pupils self-esteem. There are surely ways of achieving it. If children can excel at something or other in the course of their school lives, there is hope that they will emerge as confident adults. Amendment No. 92 is not in any way in competition with the other two amendments in the group. It is parallel and supports them at a different level in the scheme of the curriculum.
Unless individuals acquire self-esteem, they will be continually subject to bullying and will feel obliged, quite often, to prove their own virility, perhaps by fathering unwanted children, and will have continuing problems through the rest of their lives. What we should aim for is self-respect and individuals taking responsibility not only for their health but for their relationships. I hope that Amendment No. 92 will commend itself to the Government.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, I support Amendments Nos. 91A and 91B and, very briefly, want to add another dimension. I support it because I think it is what the children need. I say that having listened and talked to hundreds of children during my time at Childline and having read case notes.
If the Minister looked at the lists in the Childline report, he would find that many children call about relationship problems across the whole spectrum. Some of the answers that they come up with themselvesI was reminded of this by the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Fowlerthey have gleaned from the media or television and are frankly sometimes bizarre. I would much rather that they had that information from a good PSHE teacher, could discuss those issues with their peer group and could be given answers with greater clarity than some of the bizarre answers about sex, social life, relationships and other families that I have heard from children down the years.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, I shall first deal with Amendment No. 92, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, which would make personal and social skills a foundation subject at key stage 4. While we agree that personal and social skills can and should be developed across the school curriculum, they are usually taught discretely through personal, social and health education. We are discussing that issue under Amendments Nos. 91A and 91B. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will allow me to address my remarks to PSHE, as I see the two amendments as being in competition with each other in that sense.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, and my noble friends said, we have had a non-statutory framework for PSHE in place since 2000. We believe that the right course is to strengthen the teaching of PSHE and not
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To make PSHE statutory would be a complicated business of unpicking existing statutory provisions to replace them with a new one. But there is another aspectand I shall be frank on this matter. Later we shall discuss making science in a different way statutory and compulsory. We have had debates about modern languages in that regard. This is not the only subject about which there is an intense debate on making it statutory and compulsory; it applies to many other subjects. If we were to take this step, I am sure that we would face an equivalent argument that we should follow exactly the same course in respect of a number of other subjects. That would get us into a further set of very prescriptive requirements on schools from the centre of a kind which in other contexts noble Lords have argued against throughout our debates on the Bill. We need to balance the steps that it is right to take to improve the take-up of PSHE in schools with the specific issue of whether at this stage it is right to make it a further statutory requirement on schools.
Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, will the Minister clarify what he meant by the other subjects for which, as I took it, equal argument could be made? It is a very important statement. I am sure that he has a list of subjects and that he will be able to measure the Governments case by looking at the strength of those which he thinks are as strong as this one.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, we shall debate next the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, on science. The noble Lord may wave his hand but he asked me a question which I seek to answer. On the previous day of Report, amendments on modern foreign languages were discussed. The noble Lord, Lord Dearing, whom I am glad to see is present, is considering that issue. There is strong support from a wide spectrum for a more prescriptive regime. Every time I meet my colleagues representing the history and geography communities there are calls, including
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Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, I asked the Minister which were the subjects for which an equally forceful argument could be made in the interests of children. I am thinking of the interests of the child.
We have actively sought to improve PSHE. My noble friend Lady Gould mentioned the healthy school standard, as did my noble friend Lady Massey. Our target is that over half of schools should have achieved the healthy school standard by the end of this year. Some 48 per cent have already achieved it. I believe that we shall exceed the target of over half achieving it by the end of this year. More than 75 per cent of schools are engaged in the programme. To achieve the healthy school standardin which weare investing more than £12 million this year, up from £5 million in 2003-04the first criterion is evidence of how the school delivers personal, social and health education, including sex and relationship education and education on drugs, including alcohol, tobacco and volatile substance abuse. The healthy school status guide is made available to all schools. As I say, 48 per cent of schools have achieved the healthy school standard and many others are coming through. All the opening sections of the guide relate to PSHE. It states that a healthy school:
We also have training in place for PSHE teachers. The noble Baroness said that we have further to go, and I accept that, but we have 5,000 teachers in place at the moment. We have 2,000 enrolled in the programme, we are continuing to sustain training at that level, and the certificate is at present entirely free. We are building up a larger body of PSHE-trained teachers. We are also establishing, as my noble friend Lady Gould mentioned, a PSHE subject association to provide a network of support for PSHE teachers and to increase their confidence.
The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, asked about the role of Ofsted. At the moment, it is reviewing the delivery of PSHE in schools. It will be issuing a report on PSHE by the end of the year, and we will look carefully at its findings. I would not wish to rule out further statutory underpinning for PSHE in the future; it needs to be kept under review. It is a vital area of education in schools, and in due course it may well be appropriate to bring in a statutory framework. However, at this stage the priority is to continue to make real improvements on the ground and to invest in training, support and incentives for PSHE rather than to seek statutory changes that will be seen as nationally prescriptive and run against our desire to have fewer, not more, statutory burdens on schools. For those reasons, while we wish to see much stronger support for PSHE in schools, the Government do not support the amendment.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply and all other noble Lords for their supportive remarks. The picture that I painted through the statistics that I listed in my remarks is one of ignorance, with major serious consequences for the lives of many young people in this country. It affects not just individuals but the country as a whole. We need to take the long view and use, at this point, the lever of compulsion, because none of the other levers has worked. I am afraid that the Minister has not convinced me that the levers that he is proposing will work.
He painted a very confusing picture of how schools are delivering elements of PSHE and how they will do so in the future. I welcome what the Government are doing to strengthen the teaching, but making the subject compulsory would give more power and impetus to that programme. On the question of other subjects,
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If there is one thing our education system must do, it is to prepare our children for real life, and PSHE does that. It helps people to make the right decisions every day of their lives. I do not make decisions about quadratic equations every day of my life; people do not make decisions about the lifestyle of the frog or how much coffee is grown in Brazil every day of their lives. But the majority of citizens of this country make decisions every single day of their liveslarge decisions and small decisionswhich could be affected by good-quality PSHE education in our schools. They have a right to that. I would like to test the opinion of the House.
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