Leading teaching unions demand statutory PSHE

September 9, 2014
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Three major teaching unions – NUT, ATL and NAHT – have announced their support for statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education.

It comes a week after Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan hinted that she could be moving towards backing the measure.

The senior Tory promised to have a “think” about the issue but added: “There is a balance too between saying from Whitehall ‘this is what we want to do’ and schools feeling more overburdened. It is a balance that I am conscious of needing to strike.”

In response, Russell Hobby, General Secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “Nicky Morgan asked whether statutory PSHE would be a burden for schools. NAHT believes this is one that schools will gladly bear.”

Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary, added: “Making PSHE statutory is the key to raising its status and improving provision. At present PSHE has too little time in the curriculum, and is almost always accorded very low status and few resources in schools.”

Ms Blower highlighted a recent NUT member survey in which over 88% of respondents said that they believed PSHE should be a statutory part of the National Curriculum.

Speaking on behalf of ATL, Dr Wanda Wyporska, lead equalities officer said that “PSHE is vitally important and should be a discrete statutory subject within a whole-school approach where life skills are embedded across the curriculum.”

She added: “Teachers need to be supported to become confident in teaching PSHE, which is why we are calling for better initial teacher training in PSHE, ongoing CPD and up-to-date guidance and training on the often complex issues the subject addresses.”

The PSHE Association – the subject’s leading national body – has welcomed the calls, saying that “Politicians are often understandably concerned about overburdening schools, but support for statutory PSHE from three major teaching unions this week shows how much teachers – including heads – value the subject and see statutory status as a means of improving provision, not as a means of imposing a strict curriculum on schools.”

Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes last week issued support for a Private Members’ Bill, tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas, requiring the government to make PSHE a statutory requirement for schools.

Mr Hughes said he expected that Lib Dem MPs would vote in favour of the bill next month.

Labour has already promised to make SRE statutory if it wins the 2015 general election.


Related topics: nut, PHSE, PSHE, sex education, SRE, teachers

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