‘Feeble’ response over compulsory PSHE delay

The chairman of the Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael, who led calls for the subject to be made compulsory, accused ministers of ‘brushing over’ the proposals and providing a ‘feeble’ response, as it has already taken them six months to make it.

Compulsory PSHE - the study of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education - was deemed unnecessary by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan as the lessons were ‘not yet good enough in many schools’. The subject covers issues including sex and relationships, drugs, healthy eating, bullying an citizenship.

Morgan responded to the latest calls by emphasising the need to improve the standards of PSHE lessons, but did not indicate any plans to change its status soon.

She said: ”Young people today face unprecedented pressures posed by modern technology. Good quality PSHE can provide them with the information they need to stay safe and build resilience against the risks of exploitation or radicalisation. At its heart, good PSHE supports young people to make informed choices."

Carmichael claimed the announcement was ‘disappointing’. He said: "Ministers entirely sidestep the call made by MPs in the closing months of the last Parliament to give statutory status to PSHE. It is unclear why it should have taken the government so long to publish such a feeble response.

“The inquiry found the government's strategy for improving PSHE and sex and relationships education in schools to be weak. Yet there is nothing in this response to reassure Parliament - or young people - that the situation will now improve."

Joe Hayman, chief executive of the PSHE Association, said that he understood why the government needed time to consider whether or not to make the subject statutory.

He said: “Yet it is hard not to be deeply disappointed at another delay in the decision about statutory status, because children and young people are missing out on the education they want and need. Until we have statutory status, we will have no guarantee that pupils will receive lessons on how to stay safe, or on preparing for the world of work.”

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