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Schools: PSHE

Volume 710: debated on Monday 27 April 2009

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In October 2008, following reviews of sex and relationships education and drugs and alcohol education, I announced that I proposed to give PSHE education statutory status, subject to formal consultation. To prepare for that consultation, and mindful of some of the sensitivities around the subject, I invited Sir Alasdair Macdonald, head teacher of Morpeth Secondary School in London, to conduct an independent review of how statutory status might be achieved in practice and what other steps should be taken to improve the consistency and quality of PSHE education so that all children and young people benefit.

Following widespread consultation with stakeholders Sir Alasdair has completed his report, which I am publishing today. Copies are being placed in both Houses. The report contains a number of important recommendations and I am grateful to Sir Alasdair for these and for the open way in which he has conducted his review.

This Statement sets out the Government’s response and the next steps.

Sir Alasdair has recommended that PSHE education should become part of the national curriculum at both primary and secondary levels. I am attracted to this approach for the reasons set out in the report. The recommendation will be subject to formal consultation alongside that on Sir Jim Rose’s review of the primary curriculum.

Sir Alasdair has made a number of other recommendations which I accept in principle, subject to formal consultation. These are: that at secondary level the existing non-statutory programmes of study should be carried forward and that at primary level the relevant parts of the proposed new programme of learning, “Understanding Physical Development, Health and Wellbeing”, should form the core PSHE entitlement; that governing bodies should retain the right to determine their school’s approach to SRE, to ensure that this can be delivered in line with the context, values and ethos of the school but that this must be consistent with the core entitlement to PSHE education; that governing bodies should retain the duty to maintain an up-to-date SRE policy, which is made available to inspectors, parents and young people and that they should involve parents and young people (in the secondary phase) in developing that policy; that the DCSF should seek the opinions of stakeholders and the wider public on whether to change the name of PSHE education within the secondary national curriculum; and that legislation should seek to exclude PSHE education from the requirement to have statutory levels of attainment but that the DCSF should work with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to find appropriate and innovative ways of assessing pupil progress in PSHE education.

Sir Alasdair also recommended that the existing right of parental withdrawal from sex and relationships education (SRE) should be maintained. The report also stresses that the notion of a common entitlement to all aspects of PSHE education for all children and young people is central to the recommendations of the review and to the future of statutory PSHE education. In light of this, I accept the recommendation, but propose that we will keep the issue under review to ensure this entitlement is met.

Sir Alasdair’s report makes a number of other recommendations about improving teaching and learning in PSHE education. I propose to make an early start on implementing them.

The full list of recommendations, and the Government’s response, is attached.

Macdonald review of making PSHE education statutory:Key recommendations and Government response

Macdonald recommendation

Government response

1. PSHE education should become part of the statutory national curriculum, in both primary and secondary phases.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

2. At secondary level, PSHE education should become a foundation subject in the national curriculum, with the existing non-statutory programmes of study forming the basis for public consultation on the core entitlement.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

3. At primary level the proposed new programme of learning, “Understanding Physical Development, Health and Wellbeing”, should form the basis for public consultation on the core entitlement.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

4. Governing bodies should retain the right to determine their school’s approach to SRE, to ensure that this can be delivered in line with the context, values and ethos of the school. However, this must be consistent with the core entitlement to PSHE education.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

5. Governing bodies should also retain the duty to maintain an up-to-date SRE policy, which is made available to inspectors, parents and young people. Moreover, governing bodies should involve parents and young people (in the secondary phase) in developing their SRE policy to ensure that this meets the needs of their pupils, and reflects parents’ wishes and the culture of the communities they serve.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

6.The DCSF should consult school governor and faith school representatives about any supplementary resources, guidance and support they need and work with them to ensure that this is in place before statutory PSHE education comes into force.

Accept.

7. The existing right of parental withdrawal from SRE should be maintained. Where parents do choose to withdraw, schools should make it clear to them that in doing so they are taking responsibility for ensuring that their child receives their entitlement to SRE through alternative means. This right of withdrawal does not extend to the existing statutory elements of the national curriculum requirements regarding sex education in science at key stages 1 to 4 and we recommend that this should continue to be the case. Furthermore, there should be no right of withdrawal from the whole or any other aspect of PSHE education.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

8. The DCSF should review the status of all of its existing, separate guidance relating to the issues covered in PSHE education. The DCSF should then publish in due course an overarching document that sets out the common principles underpinning effective PSHE education and applies them to delivery of the core entitlement.

Accept.

9. Alongside or within the consultation surrounding the core national curriculum entitlement for PSHE education, the DCSF should seek the opinions of stakeholders and the wider public on whether to change the name of PSHE education within the secondary national curriculum.

Accept and will consult.

10. The DCSF should commission further research that will establish and report on the prevalent models of delivery for PSHE education and their effectiveness in improving outcomes for children and young people. However, other subjects in the national curriculum are not subject to prescription regarding delivery and we see no reason why PSHE should be any different.

Accept.

11. All initial teacher training (ITT) courses should include some focus on PSHE education. We agree with the recommendation from the SRE and drugs and alcohol education review groups that the DCSF should work with the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) to investigate a dedicated route for ITT that will, in time, create a cohort of specialist PSHE education teachers.

Accept.

12. The DCSF should also work with the TDA to consider a PSHE enhancement option in ITT, as well as promoting PSHE education through the masters in teaching and learning and Advanced Skills Teachers programme.

Accept.

13. The DCSF should continue to support a PSHE CPD programme. The DCSF should also work with the TDA and local authorities to explore the other types of CPD on offer in PSHE education. This should aim to identify local provision of CPD in PSHE education that is collaborative, sustained and evaluated, in order to exemplify good practice in guidance.

Accept.

14. CPD should also be available for support staff and the wider children’s workforce involved in PSHE education.

Accept.

15. The DCSF should work to raise the profile of PSHE education among school senior management teams.

Accept.

16. We recognise the important contributions that external organisations and visitors can make to the PSHE curriculum and recommend that schools are encouraged to identify opportunities where this wider input can be made appropriately. Furthermore, the DCSF should consider how best to disseminate examples of effective practice more widely across local authorities.

Accept.

17. Legislation should seek to exclude PSHE education from the requirement to have statutory levels of attainment.

Accept in principle, subject to public consultation.

18. The DCSF should work with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to find appropriate and innovative ways of assessing pupil progress in PSHE education.

Accept.

19. The DCSF should consider further ways of promoting pupil and parent engagement in the development and delivery of PSHE education, and how to disseminate good practice in this area.

Accept.

20. We are satisfied that the existing accountability framework and planned well-being indicators will provide sufficient monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of a school’s PSHE education programme. Therefore, the review recommends that no additional requirements should be placed on schools in terms of inspection.

Accept.