Peers debate the importance of statutory PSHE in during Lords debate

July 14, 2011

Members from both the Government and Opposition benches in the House Lords spoke yesterday in support of making Personal, Social, Health and Economic edcuation (PSHE), which includes age appropriate Sex and Relationship Education (SRE), a compulsory part of the National Curriculum.

The comments were made during a Committee Stage debate of the Education Bill after an amendment from Liberal Democrat Peer, Baroness Walmsley, and amendment from the Labour Peers Baroness Massey, Baroness Gould and Lord Knight were discussed, which all sought to ensure that state funded schools in England taught the subject.

A range of Peers spoke in favour of the amendments. Baroness Walmsley noted how there was a strong human rights argument in favour of ensuring that children received PSHE under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, while Baroness Massey observed that PSHE lessons could be the only source of information that young people received on these issues that the subject covered.

Lord Laynard highlighted research that showed that PSHE teaching improved both children’s emotional well-being and wider academic performance by 11 percentile points when compared to children who did not receive it.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield observed that debate about SRE failed to take on board the merit and value of providing relationships education, which could help children manage conflict and cope with family breakdown, how to recognise and understand abusive behaviour in relationships and what they needed to do to seek help in those situations. She also highlighted that the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group had warned that teenage pregnancy would rise again unless there was better provision of SRE.

Meanwhile, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff also spoke about the potential for PSHE to incorporate learning in others areas, such as helping children deal with bereavement reactions in grief and loss and learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Amendments at this stage of the Bill require unanimous support and despite the wide range of contributions in favour of making PSHE part the National Curriculum the amendments were rejected by Lord Hill of Oareford, the Minister responsible for the Education Bill in the Lords. Amendments

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Surveys show that parents want children to receive PSHE, that children want to receive more and better quality PSHE and that teachers want extra support and materials to help in teaching it. However, the demands of these groups are not currently being met due to PSHE’s low status.

‘PSHE might not count in terms of academic league tables, but can make a difference to teenagers’ lives and should be regarded as a vital part of their education. If the government gave greater priority to the subject, it would help boost the professional status of the subject and lead to improvements in both teacher training and the provision of teaching materials.’



The report Sex and Relationship Education: Views from teachers, parents and governors, commissioned by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, the National Association of Head Teachers, the National Governors Association and Durex, found that 90% of parents and 93% of Governors thought schools should be involved in providing SRE, but that 80% of teachers do not feel sufficiently well  trained and confident to talk about SRE. Only 9% of school leaders rated the teaching materials available to them as ‘very useful’. More than one in four school leaders and a fifth of governors believe that current SRE in schools is failing children by preparing them for the future ‘not well’ or ‘not at all well’.

Current SRE provision in the UK lags behind that of many developed countries and a 2007 survey by the UK Youth parliament of over 20,000 young people found that shockingly 61 per cent of boys and 70 per cent of girls aged over 17 reported not receiving any information at school about personal relationships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Accord depends on your support

Please give.

Sign up

find us on Facebook

News history