Government rebuffs calls to make PSHE and SRE compulsory

The government has refused to make personal, social and health education (PSHE) and sex and relationships eduction (SRE) statutory, despite calls for the subjects to be made compulsory.

In response to a Neil Carmichael, who called on the Education Secretary to make the subjects compulsory, Nicky Morgan said: “The vast majority of schools already make provision for PSHE and while the government agrees that making PSHE statutory would give it equal status with other subjects, the government is concerned that this would do little to tackle the most pressing problems with the subject, which are to do with the variable quality of its provision, as evidenced by Ofsted’s finding that 40 per cent of PSHE teaching is less than good.

Morgan concluded: “As such, while we will continue to keep the status of PSHE in the curriculum under review, our immediate focus will be on improving the quality of PSHE teaching in our schools.”

The response comes after a number of Education figures protested the plans, including four reports which strongly advised the government to recognise the importance of PSHE and SRE.

Last month, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said she was disappointed by the decision. She said: “When report after report following the tragic sex abuse cases in Rotherham and Oxford point out that PSHE keeps children safe, how can Nicky Morgan refuse time and time again to make PSHE mandatory in all schools. How can the government look young people in the eye and tell them that their personal, social, health and economic needs are just not that important.

Bousted argued: “There are some outstanding PSHE teachers and schools taking an inspiring approach, but why does the government not afford teaching PSHE the respect and resources it so clearly needs? This is a short-sighted decision that will have many serious repercussions for young people’s health and their futures.”

Morgan said that ‘leading head teachers’ were working closely with the government to produce an ‘action plan’ to improve PSHE.

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