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Health Education

Volume 31: debated on Tuesday 9 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on health education in schools.

As we said in our guidance document "The School Curriculum", health education should give pupils a basic knowledge and understanding of health matters both as they affect themselves and as they affect others. It should also help them to become aware of those moral issues and value judgments which are inseperable from such choices. There should be the closest possible co-operation between parents and schools when dealing with sensitive topics such as sex education.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he entirely satisfied with the quantity, quality and nature of health education currently offered in schools? Does he have plans to include this subject in basic teacher training? Will the Department issue guidelines on the instruction of this most sensitive subject?

I am sure that the training colleges, the colleges of education and the institutes of education will bear in mind this important subject of health education. As for schools, we in the Department have published a booklet entitled "Health Education in Schools", which covers diseases, accidents, dental health, drug and alcohol misuse, smoking and also sex education. I would only add that the school day is limited. It is the one thing that has not changed since 1939. The more one puts in, the more something else will have to come out.

In connection with our interest in health education and the health of pupils, will the Under-Secretary say why he has disregarded the intelligent report on school meals by the Select Committee? What is his response to the report of the National Union of Teachers, which says that health regulations are clearly being flouted in a number of local education authorities?

If health regulations are being flouted, that is a question for local authorities. The Education Act 1980 places the responsibility for school meals back on the local authorities, which are democratically elected bodies.