Accord Coalition calls for compulsory PSHE to better secure pupils’ health and wellbeing

June 15, 2012

The Accord Coalition has called upon the Government to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, which includes age appropriate Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), a part of the National Curriculum, in light of two meetings in parliament this week that have highlighted the bullying and abuse suffered by many children in society.

Addressing the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday (June 12th), Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, gave a shocking testimony on the prevalence of sexual exploitation of children in England, which she claimed took place in every ‘town, village and hamlet in England.

Meanwhile, later on Tuesday, a parliamentary debate took place in Westminster Hall on homophobic bullying in schools, sponsored by the Conservative MP Iain Stewart. Mr Stewart, an openly gay MP, set out the miserable experience that many pupils endured in schools due to homophobic bullying, and the impact that it could have on young people’s social and academic development.

SRE seeks to do many things, including reduce unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, as well as give children tools to be clear about personal boundaries, resist pressure, seek help when they need it and to challenge misleading and inappropriate messages in the media. It can also provide a space for schools to ground and advance their anti-bullying measures, including anti-homophobic bullying.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said, ‘There is widespread support for making SRE part of the National Curriculum among educationalists, religion and belief groups, health organisations, as well as in parliament and among parents, schools and young people. The last Government came within a whisker of making SRE part of the National Curriculum and our society’s continued failure to ensure that all schools provide thorough, accurate and balanced SRE undermines the future health and wellbeing of our children.

‘The current Government has prevented its review into the new National Curriculum from considering whether PSHE should be included. Meanwhile, although the Coalition Agreement committed the Government to tackling homophobic bullying, we have yet to see any substantial initiatives or action in this area.

‘We therefore urge the Government to reconsider PSHE’s exclusion from the National Curriculum review, as well as to issue improved guidance and better resources for the teaching of SRE and tackling of homophobic bullying in schools. These two parliamentary meetings only serve to highlight the pressing need for all pupils to receive age appropriate SRE.’



The NSPCC report Child cruelty in the UK 2011: An NSPCC study into childhood abuse and neglect over the past 30 years found that in 2009, one in four 18-24 year olds (25.3%) had been physically attacked by an adult during childhood, sexually assaulted, or severely neglected at home, and that one in twenty children (4.8%) had been sexually assaulted – either by an adult or another child.

The report Sex and Relationship Education: Views from teachers, parents and governors (2010), 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’.

The un-amended Children, Schools and Families Bill 2009/10 proposed making SRE part of the National Curriculum at both the primary and secondary stages, which was supported by both the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales and the Church of England.

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

Page 29 of the Coalition Agreement, The Coalition: our programme for Government, committed the Government to  “… tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying.”

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