Accord Coalition castigates Government position on PSHE as ‘detached’

May 1, 2013

crayon-rainbowThe Accord Coalition has described the Government’s policy towards Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education as ‘detached’ following publication today of a new OFSTED report assessing strengths and weaknesses of PSHE education in primary and secondary schools in England.

Among the report’s key findings were calls to the Department for Education to ensure that there is better training for new and existing PSHE teachers, that schools have better access to guidance highlighting examples of best practice, and that the Department should give a clear message to schools about the importance of PSHE. However, these recommendations make awkward reading for Ministers, as they follow on from the conclusion of the Government’s own nineteen month review of PSHE, which was published in March.

The Government’s review did not set out firm proposals for improving teacher training, but instead its publication coincided with an announcement that the PSHE Association would have its funding reduced, while the Government did not consider whether PSHE should be added to the National Curriculum, which would ensure that all schools provide it. Meanwhile, the latest draft of the Government’s revised National Curriculum offers less information on the teaching of biological aspects of sex education than is included in the current National Curriculum.

This is despite there being a cross-party consensus in support of proposals to make PSHE, which includes Sex and Relationships Education, a statutory entitlement for young people as part of the National Curriculum, when an unsuccessful attempt to establish this was made during passage of the Children, Schools and Families Bill 2009/2010. The proposals were also supported by the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales and the Church of England.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Surveys show that parents want children to receive PSHE, that pupils want to receive more and better quality PSHE, and that teachers want extra support and materials to help in teaching it. The report from OFSTED also highlights various areas of major weakness in PSHE provision, which it thinks should be addressed.

‘However, in stark contrast the Government has done little to improve the standing and provision of PSHE, and may now even undermine it by reducing the modest amount of sex education that is currently required to be taught as Science in the National Curriculum. The Government’s position seems increasingly isolated, detached and hard to understand. To deny pupils information about how their bodies work, as well as personal boundaries, how to resist pressure, how to seek help and misleading and inappropriate messages in the media places the future health and well-being of children and young people at risk.

‘OFSTED’s report highlights a close correlation between schools rated as outstanding in their provision of PSHE, and also those schools that were rated as outstanding in their overall effectiveness and the grades that pupils achieved. This should send yet another powerful signal to the Government about how boosting pupils’ emotional, behavioural and social well-being also boosts their achievements and general fulfilment, both academically at school and during later life.’

OFSTED’s new report ‘Not yet good enough: personal, social, health and economic education in schools’ found that PSHE education was good or better in 60% of schools, but required improvement or was inadequate in 40%. It found that at 20% of schools staff had received little or no training to teach PSHE education, and that many teachers lacked expertise in teaching sensitive and controversial issues, which resulted in some topics such as sexuality, mental health and domestic violence being omitted from the curriculum. The report highlighted concern that a lack of high-quality, age-appropriate Sex and Relationships Education in schools may leave children and young people vulnerable to inappropriate sexual behaviours and sexual exploitation. It also noted that the weakest aspect of PSHE teaching was that the assessment of pupils’ learning was usually less robust for PSHE education than for other subjects.



OFSTED’s report ‘Not yet good enough: personal, social, health and economic education in schools’ can be found at

The PSHE Association is the national subject association for professionals working in PSHE education.

The NSPCC report ‘Child cruelty in the UK 2011: An NSPCC study into childhood abuse and neglect over the past 30 yearsfound 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’.

A poll from Brook in November 2011 found that around one in four 12 to 18 year olds in the UK indicated that they didn’t receive any Sex and Relationships Education in school at all.

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