As the new school term begins, school leaders’ union, NAHT, endorses the Children’s Commissioner’s timely reminder of the importance of online safety but warns that statutory action is vital.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT said:
“Many Primary school age children will have received tech gifts for Christmas, from smart phones to tablets. They are a powerful source of information but they need to be handled with care. The benefits and risks of easy internet access for pupils are clear, so it’s important to find the right balance.
“It’s vital that schools and parents work together to give young people the tools they need to navigate the internet safely and with confidence. Whilst this is already happening in many schools progress is being held back because Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) has not yet been given statutory status alongside Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). Online safety, including the impact which social media can have on emotional and mental health, must be seen as part of a bigger picture in schools for pupils of all ages.
“NAHT has long advocated statutory PSHE and age-appropriate RSE, for all pupils in all schools. This is the best way to properly prepare young people for the challenges they will encounter in their adult lives and the current challenges they face beyond the school gates. Statutory status for PSHE, would help young people avoid reaching the ‘Cliff Edge’ that the Children’s Commissioner describes.”
A recent survey conducted by NAHT among schools showed that 91 per cent of school leaders believe PSHE should be taught in regular timetabled lessons in their school.
Just under half (49 per cent) say that PSHE and RSE do not have the same status as other subjects but over 90 per cent thought that they should.
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