PSHE should be taught in all schools, MPs say

A number of MPs including the education, health, home affairs and business committee chairman have called upon the government to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education compulsory in schools.

The MPs voiced their beliefs in a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, in which they criticise her delayed response to the campaign and advise that she make tackling the issue her ‘new year’s resolution’. The letter argues that ‘it is essential’ that the subjects be taught in schools and claims that PSHE is a ‘crucial part of preparing young people for life’.

The chairman's letter said: "We write to express our disappointment with your response so far to the issue of the statutory status for PSHE and sex and relationships education in schools.”

The letter continues to outline the importance of the subject by insisting that it will ultimately aid children in making decisions that will affect their health, well-being and future relationships. Furthermore, effective teaching of the subject could also help pupils develop skills for employment and protect ‘young people from abuse in many forms’.

Neil Carmichael, chair of the Education Committee, said: “The government's strategy for improving PSHE in schools is weak and Ofsted has highlighted that PSHE requires improvement in 40 per cent of schools.”

In regard to the government’s delayed response, Carmichael said: “The secretary of state promised to report back to my committee by the end of 2015: it’s now time she responds in full and outlines her strategy for improving the quality of PSHE teaching in the nation’s schools.”

Commenting on the letter, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said: “We have long campaigned to make PSHE a statutory subject in our schools, and welcome further calls from prominent voices within parliament.

“The point about statutory status for PSHE is not to tell teachers how to teach it but to protect them from challenge when they do. This is a way of the government backing teachers when they tackle difficult topics in the interests of pupils. A light touch, statutory entitlement would be a suitable compromise between protection and autonomy.”

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “We want all young people to leave school equipped with a curriculum for life that prepares them to succeed in modern Britain, and the teaching of PSHE is central to that plan.

“We are working with head teachers and other experts to understand how best to achieve high-quality PSHE for every pupil."

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