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What goes around … ?

Yet again it appears that staff at the DfE are about to fail to take the essential step and include PSHE Education as a statutory part of the revised National curriculum due in 2014.

Whilst there are continued calls for schools to address all the concerns of society – drugs/alcohol, smoking, teenage pregnancy, bullying, anti-social behaviour, knife crime, obesity, healthy eating, self-harm, mental health, road safety and most recently careers education… (I’ll leave you to add to the continuously increasing list) the desire to ensure this critical element of every student’s personal development is to be left to the vagaries and enthusiasm of individual Headteachers. Please don’t misunderstand, there have always been some schools where the importance of PSHE has been placed alongside the core subjects with time, staffing and resources provided to ensure students can make important decisions based on sound knowledge. However too many children have received, at best, an occasional or one off lesson in say S & R or drugs education, or at worst the basic facts provided by the science curriculum or death by worksheets, as there are no suitably qualified staff to deliver key aspects or time left to provide regular sessions. With the demand for improved numeracy and literacy and the pressure on Heads who have to respond to targets and league tables, who can blame those who feel they cannot give appropriate time and resources to PSHE, it is not statutory!

I was really excited when I heard comment in2012 that PSHE was to become statutory, I should have known better. It appears this will not be the case, the ‘Consultation on PSHE education – summary report’ published in March 2013 dashed our hopes again. The best we can expect are ‘new standardised frameworks or programmes of study’ with ‘funding from the PSHE Association to work with schools, to advise them in developing their own PSHE curriculum’ ‘enabling schools to respond to student need’. That sounds very much like it’s left to Headteachers to decide again and so the roundabout turns again. Who will help equip staff with the necessary skills to deliver some of the more sensitive or specialised aspects? Where will the finance be found to properly resource programmes? What is most disappointing is there are many, not profit making organisations (NAPCE, Sex Education Forum, NSPCC, CEOP to name a few), who continue to work in various aspects of PSHE and could have provided the DfE with the knowledge and skills to put together the key basics of a good programme – who remembers all the great work that went into ‘The Passport Project’ only for it to be pushed aside by a more political group championing citizenship?

As I near the end of my 33yr teaching career, the foundation for which has been on Pastoral aspects and supporting young people to develop into confident well rounded young adults, I am disappointed that in the 21st century the staff at the DfE still do not recognise the key value of personal development through a PSHE curriculum that is as well developed, structured and resourced as English, Maths, Science (but not examined by tests)

What can you do? Send your comments to NAPCE at and/or write to your local MP and make your views known. Unless we raise the issue another 30 odd years will pass and many more young people will be denied the knowledge and skills they deserve to help them make sense of and make informed decisions in a confusing and demanding world.

Jae Bray
NAPCE June 2013

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