Finding a place for PSHE in schools.

Dr Clare Owen, Teacher and Education Consultant writes in The Huffington Post that PSHE has long been a thorny topic for schools and its importance is unquestionable. Students need to be the recipients of quality instruction on sometimes difficult, often sensitive subjects, but who should deliver it, what should be delivered and how are questions to which there seems to be little consensus.

Yet PSHE is not currently statutory and where it does exist, Ofsted considers the quality of provision as ‘not yet good enough in a sizeable proportion of schools in England’.

Encouragingly, the Department for Education (DfE) recently released a policy statement declaring that following consultation, statutory guidance on Relationships Education (Primary) and Relationships and Sex Education (Secondary) will be published early next year. However, the policy suggests schools may or may not be required ‘to provide PSHE or elements of it’ pending ‘the outcome of review work’. Given the lack of obligation and curriculum time hampering the delivery of PSHE until now, greater clarity is a welcome step forward, but if PSHE as a whole is not made statutory, is it enough?

Schools tend not to have PSHE departments, but rather, staff who have gaps in their timetables, meaning a lack of qualified subject delivery. There is a risk that if they lack confidence in teaching such sensitive topics, they might avoid teaching them altogether.

Some families find particular subjects difficult to discuss. Schools offer neutrality and allow barriers to be broken down in a safe space. Local issues can be discussed, expertise shared and stereotypes challenged. Young people can learn about consequences and hopefully, engage in less risky behaviours. Studies have shown that time spent discussing bullying leads to fewer incidents of bullying and fewer behavioural issues.

Investment is needed, not just in terms of money, but further government support (beyond RSE) and, most critically, time. Things of value need time. Time brings depth. With a narrow, exam-focused curriculum, we are doing our children an injustice if we don’t invest in PSHE. Its teaching can help remove barriers, improve academic outcomes and help young people make informed choices. It surely isn’t asking too much to give them the information they might need to handle difficulties better and the space to consider them.

Read the full article Finding a place for PSHE in schools.

With schools focusing on exam success, PSHE is not prioritised. But could more time spent on health and wellbeing result in happie,r healthier children? Please tell us your thought in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin 

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