PSHE; NO LONGER COMPULSORY;
HOME EDUCATORS RELIEF AS REGISTRATION PROVISIONS ALSO DROPPED
Clauses dropped from the education Bill in pre-election wash-out
Clauses 11, 12, 13 and 14-in other words, all the clauses about having compulsory PSHE in maintained schools curriculum were dropped from the Children Schools and Families Bill on 7 April.
PSHE is not just about sex and relationship education-although you could be mistaken for believing this to be the case if you followed the Parliamentary debates –it in fact includes careers, business and economics, individual safety, personal finance, nutrition and physical activity, sex and relationships, emotional health and well-being, alcohol and other drug education. Sir Alasdair Macdonald, who advised the Government, established that PSHE should be seen as a distinct subject with its own body of knowledge, understanding and skills. The controversy surrounded the sex and relationship education (SRE) element of PSHE. Some critics said it would mean sex lessons for five year-olds. It would not. The Government did not accept proposals from faith organizations that children should be withdrawn from sex and relationship education until the age of 16. Statutory PSHE is regarded by many as essential in preparing young people for adult life. By reducing the age of opt-out on SRE to 15, the Government had intended that all children should receive at least one year of sex and relationship education before leaving compulsory education A large body of evidence shows that good sex and relationship education correlates well with young people waiting longer to have their first sexual experience and thus reduces teenage pregnancy rates. We have one of the worst records for teenage pregnancy in Europe.
It does seem a shame that we have lost PSHE as a statutory requirement almost solely f over the controversy surrounding the SRE element.
Registration and monitoring of home education was also dropped from the Bill .Following Graham Badman’s independent report into home education, these provisions were put in place because the Government saw them as ‘ a valuable tool for local authorities in their work to safeguard all children.’ But a hostile and effective lobby organised by Home Educators and ultimately supported by the opposition parties saw the Government off .Less than adroit handling by the Government made it look as if it viewed Home Educators as potential child abusers, rather than parents wishing to give their children an education that the state could not provide. The Governments approach ended up looking like an assault on a basic much cherished right-to choose the education of ones child, although to be fair this was not its intention. More cock up than conspiracy one feels, the result of poor political judgement and handling. But Ministers have only themselves to blame for this. HE parents deserve credit for a campaign that managed to place the Government on the back foot, while never allowing themselves to compromise their independence . But as they no doubt know, the battle has been won, but the war may still continue, post May 6.