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Our call for PSHE to be made statutory to support delivery of RSE

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New research conducted by school leaders’ union NAHT among schools has shown that 91 per cent of school leaders believe PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) should be taught in regular timetabled lessons in their school. 

Just under half (49 per cent) say that PSHE and RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) do not have the same status as other subjects but over 90 per cent thought that they should.

The NAHT is calling for PSHE Education to be made statutory, for all pupils, in all schools, to the same timescales as RSE –  PSHE is the vehicle which will support successful and effective delivery of RSE and make it work for schools and students as well as raise the status of the subject. 

NAHT welcomed the passing of the Children and Social Work Act earlier this year, introducing ‘relationships education’ in all primaries, and ‘relationships and sex’ education in all secondary schools from 2019, along with the potential to make PSHE education statutory in its entirety, pending consultation.  But more progress is vital.  

Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s General Secretary, said: 

“NAHT has long advocated statutory PSHE and age-appropriate sex and relationships education, for all pupils in all schools, to help prepare young people for the challenges they will encounter in their adult lives and the current challenges they face beyond the school gates.” 

Sarah Hannafin, Policy Advisor, NAHT, said: 

“It’s so important for young people of all ages to be taught about appropriate relationships and in our view, RSE is best fulfilled as part of statutory PSHE. 

“The challenge now is ensuring these proposals meet their potential in a way that works best for schools, school leaders and teachers charged with implementing them. Schools want to teach this well and they need to be given access to the tools which enable them to deliver the high-quality learning experience that their pupils deserve.” 

The NAHT survey showed that delivering effective RSE requires increased training for teachers. Fifty-one per cent of respondents agreed that RSE in their school is taught by teachers who have had training in the subject, 89 per cent said that RSE in their school should be taught by teachers who have had training in the subject, highlighting a significant area which needs further support and resources. 

When asked what would support the improvement of RSE provision in their school, ‘better parental understanding and support’ was cited by 92 per cent of respondents, followed by ‘a central list of quality-assured resources’ and ‘training or guidance on how to select high quality resources’, each of which was mentioned by 91 per cent of those questioned. 

NAHT aims to continue its campaigning work, engaging with the government and other stakeholders to ensure that PSHE Education is made statutory, for all pupils, in all schools, to the same timescales as RSE.

First published 30 November 2017