Joe Hayman, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association asks health care professionals to lobby the Prime Minister in support of statutory PSHE education, to help keep our children safe and healthy.
These next few weeks are critical for the future of PSHE education. The Government has said that it will decide by the end of the year whether the subject should be given statutory status, the cause the PSHE community has campaigned on for so long. We are therefore launching a call to action today asking professionals involved in the support and delivery of PSHE education to write to the Prime Minister.
The strength of support for our campaign is overwhelming: 92% of young people, 90% of parents, 88% of teachers, 85% of business leaders, 150 expert organisations and political leaders from across the spectrum want statutory PSHE. Evidence is strong, and growing, for the potential impact of statutory PSHE in keeping children safe and healthy, preparing them for work and aiding their academic attainment, and just last week, the Children’s Commissioner lent her voice to the campaign in her landmark report on preventing sexual abuse of children. Very few campaigns share our breadth of public, academic, professional and business support.
Now we must go further and counter the misgivings decision-makers have about statutory status. A Government source recently questioned whether PSHE education should be made a statutory subject because pupil needs “are very different in Tower Hamlets than they are in Lincolnshire”. We urgently need to clarify this point: when the Commons Education Committee recommended earlier this year that the subject should be given statutory status, it stated that there should be “minimal prescription of content to ensure that schools have flexibility to respond to local needs and priorities”, a recommendation that the PSHE Association completely endorses. Every week, we train schools to use local data, assess pupil needs and consult with parents, community leaders and local employers in order to plan a programme which is right for them. We trust professionals to make the right judgments about the content of their PSHE programme, and would hope and expect that this model would continue under statutory status.
Statutory status would not be a straightjacket for schools but rather a statement that the same high standards of rigour are expected for PSHE education as for other subjects and a commitment to lessons tailored to pupils’ needs. Now we need to show the Government that the professional community supports this move forward: a statutory entitlement for pupils to receive learning that keeps them healthy and safe and prepares them for life and work, but professional autonomy to plan a programme which is tailored to each class and each school. With that in mind, we have launched a new campaign, focussed specifically on professionals working in and with schools, aimed at making this point to the Prime Minister.
Everyone is busy, everyone is stretched, but the voices of the professional community need to be heard on this issue. By sending the text below to Number 10 using this link (please visit https://email.number10.gov.uk/ if clicking this link does not work for you), and then sharing with your colleagues, you could really help the campaign. Simple instructions are below – thank you for your support.
1. Visit the Prime Minister contact form (please visit https://email.number10.gov.uk/ if clicking this link does not work for you)
2. Fill in your name, address, email and the text below (or your own text if you prefer)
3. Press send
4. Verify your response by clicking on the link in the automated confirmation email you receive
5. Send to as many colleagues as you can and ask them to lend their name to the campaign.
Statutory PSHE education and freedom for schools
Suggested text to be inserted:
As an education professional, I call on the Prime Minister to make PSHE education a statutory subject with the flexibility for schools to tailor provision to their own priorities.
Statutory status is not about requiring schools to follow a rigid curriculum, but is a commitment to ensuring all pupils receive lessons tailored to their needs, planned in consultation with parents, communities and local businesses and delivered by trained teachers.
This protection is needed because PSHE education is the only non-statutory and non-examined school subject, meaning that it often falls off the curriculum in schools, as demonstrated by Ofsted and Department for Education data.88% of teachers, and five leading teaching unions, including the National Association of Headteachers, support statutory status: they don’t see it as a burden but as a vital step towards keeping pupils healthy, safe and prepared for life and work in modern Britain.