The PSHE Review

So there we have it, the Department for Education have published their statement on the PSHE review, and given it’s rather lengthy gestation period (the review was first announced in November 2010) I thought it would be worth looking back at what was said by Ministers and the department between then and now.

Announcing that there would be a review the White Paper said:

We will conduct an internal review to determine how we can support schools to improve the quality of all PSHE teaching, including giving teachers the flexibility to use their judgement about how best to deliver PSHE education.

By July 2011 Parliamentary Questions were being asked about why the review seemed not to have begun, to which the then Minister, Nick Gibb, responded:

PSHE education is an important subject and we are giving proper consideration to the review’s remit, process and time scale. This will ensure that the review has the best chance of determining how schools can be supported to improve the quality of PSHE teaching and of how to give teachers the flexibility to use their judgement about how best to deliver PSHE education.

And as if by magic the review was launched the very next day, which also happened to be the last day of the summer school term. Ministers set the review team five core tasks:

  • Consider the core outcomes and the knowledge and awareness that the government should expect pupils to gain.
  • Look at whether the frameworks  and programmes of study are effective at defining the content  of the subject.
  • Explore how schools can decide what pupils need to know, in consultation with parents and others locally.
  • Consider whether elements of PSHE should be made statutory (in addition to SRE).
  • Simplifying SRE guidance.

We now know that 699 of us decided to offer our thoughts on what the government could do before the consultation closed in November 2011.  Mentor’s submission to the review can be downloaded here.  The summary of the responses to the consultation produced by the DfE yesterday says:

Many respondents understood that whilst the Government would not be making PSHE a whole statutory subject, it was essential that a strong message was sent to schools to raise the expectation that high quality PSHE should be delivered across all key stages and be afforded real curriculum time.

In January 2012 Sarah Teather was saying:

The first phase of the review has completed and the Department will be publishing proposals for public consultation in 2012.

As we know those proposals weren’t published in 2012 and nor is there to be a public consultation.

At the beginning of this year the UK Annual Report to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction argued that:

School-based drug education forms a central part of the United Kingdom’s approach to universal drug prevention.

And said that the government were:

pledged to improve the quality of PSHE education in schools with the aim of providing young people with knowledge of the potential risks of taking drugs and the confidence to resist pressure to take them.

Yesterday’s announcement was disappointing for all sorts of reasons, the lack of a programme of study, or standardised framework, the complacency about what is needed to ensure that young people get the sort of programmes that will be able to equip them for the decisions they’ll need to make, and the lack of leadership that Ministers are displaying.

I can’t help contrasting this laissez-faire approach to health education to the detail that is being proposed around spelling, or the micro-management of the use of calculators in primary schools.

The government may argue that the support they are providing the PSHE Association meets the commitment to better teaching, but as the Association point out this is actually a “significant” reduction” in the support the department has previously provided.

The other service in yesterday’s announcement was for the ADEPIS service that Mentor will be running.  We’re excited about this opportunity, but in many ways it builds on the work that we did with the Drug Education Forum until Ministers decided not to continue funding the Forum last year.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, Michael Gove yesterday announced £10 million for teacher training, but I’ll be surprised if any of it goes towards training teachers to deliver better health and wellbeing education.

2 thoughts on “The PSHE Review

  1. Pingback: Chicken or Egg? Who cares, the link between health behaviours and educational outcomes are clear | Mentor Thinks

  2. Pingback: Drug Strategy Annual Review 2013 – Reducing Demand

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