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Today the Commons Education Select Committee has published a report following its inquiry into teaching Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in schools. The inquiry received over 430 written submissions following its launch last April, and oral evidence was taken from seven panels of witnesses. The National Governors’ Association submitted both written and oral evidence.
The Committee makes a number of recommendations, including that SRE should be renamed as Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) to better reflect the current focus on relationships. NGA welcomes the recommendation that age appropriate PSHE and SRE are introduced as statutory subjects in both primary and secondary schools. The Committee commented that this will ‘contribute to ensuring that appropriate curriculum time is devoted to the subject, to stimulating the demand for trained teachers, and to meeting safeguarding requirements’. It notes that there was some concern from parents about removing the right to withdraw their child from SRE, and therefore recommends that this is retained. Furthermore, it recommends that all schools should be required to regularly consult with parents on the school’s SRE provision.
The inquiry concludes that the quality of PSHE and SRE teaching is too often weak, and links this to a lack of appropriate training for teachers. The Committee recommends that the government restores funding to the National PSHE CPD programme, so that every school has at least one teacher who has been trained in PSHE, and that it ensures that there are sufficient school nurses training places. The Committee also advises that government should formally endorse and issue the SRE guidance produced by Brook, the Sex Education Forum and the PSHE Association and promote this more actively to schools and governors.
The Committee acknowledges that the quality of PSHE is not easy to measure, and measurement through trends in teenage conceptions and STIs provide little insight into the effectiveness of SRE in schools. Therefore, it recommends that measurement should be through Ofsted inspection and through levels of pupil and parent satisfaction. Furthermore, the Committee urges the government to explore how pupil wellbeing could be measured in schools. Pupil wellbeing is something governors care very much about and in NGA and Wellcome Trust’s Framework for Governance contains examples of how wellbeing could be assessed.
Gillian Allcroft, NGA Policy Manager, commenting on the report said “NGA welcomes the recommendations contained in the Education Select Committee report. NGA in both written and oral evidence to the committee supported the introduction of age appropriate Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). Alongside parents, schools have an important role to play in teaching children and young people what safe and happy relationships look like and educating them about how to avoid risky behaviour. Governing bodies should ensure that the staff in their schools feel confident and have been given appropriate training and development to enable them to deliver the PSHE and RSE curriculum.”