Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Education and Skills Bill

The House of Lords have been debating the Education and Skills Bill.

One of the amendments (asking for PSHE to be made statutory) will be of particular interest to readers of this blog and it’s on this that I’ll focus.

Baroness Garden (Liberal Democrat) moved the amendment and said:

For PSHE to become a statutory part of the curriculum, it is estimated that there should be a minimum requirement of an hour a week, incorporating the existing statutory requirements for education in sex and relationships, drugs and alcohol, as well as careers guidance. From Ofsted reports we know that the quality of PSHE education as it currently stands is extremely variable and not universally well taught. Under this amendment, PSHE would become a teaching specialism, with initial teacher training set up to ensure a high-quality teaching workforce. That would raise the profile of the subject and reinforce the Government’s commitment to promote pupil well-being.


Lord Lucas (Conservative) wasn’t sure that PSHE should be examined but went on to say:

I see it as much more of an entitlement. It is extremely important that children should be offered exposure to this area, and schools are generally pretty bad at it. Schools do not offer children much education on how to manage money, on how to get on with relationships of various sorts or on sexual health, other than that set out at the moment in some rather unimaginative structures.


Baroness Howe (Crossbench) was concerned that amongst the many other issues that schools need to deal with this won’t be a priority unless there is statutory force behind it.

Lord Elton (Conservative) expresses concern about subjects which a deemed to be cross-curricular don’t get taught.

Barroness Walmsley (Liberal Democrat) supports the ammendment and argues:

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, did not like the idea of examining the subject. I tend to agree, but it may not be necessary to examine the subject as long as Ofsted inspects the quality. I also agree that PSHE should permeate the whole school and has an effect on the school ethos. We, too, believe that it should be an entitlement, which is why we tabled the amendments, which seek to ensure that every child receives PSHE and that it is high quality. Making this a statutory requirement would mean that teachers were properly trained to deliver some of these very sensitive subjects. Some of the CPD budget could be devolved to train people who already deliver PSHE in many schools but have not been properly trained to do so.


Lord Adonis spoke for the government:

The Government’s policy on making PSHE statutory has not changed, but it is far from complacent. In the first place, much of PSHE is already statutory in schools. All schools must have a sex education policy, which is supported by statutory guidance issued by my department on the content and teaching of sex and relationships education. This education is required in law to include education about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. In addition, statutory content in the science curriculum supports teaching about sex and drugs, healthy eating and the importance of exercise…


He says it has been a departmental priority to improve PSHE teaching through guidance, funding conitnuing professional development, and spreading good practice. He points out that guidance says to gain Healthy School Status a school will:

“[Invlove] professionals from appropriate external agencies to create specialist teams to support PSHE delivery and to improve skills and knowledge, such as a school nurse, sexual health outreach workers and drug education advisers”.


He points to the good work of the PSHE Association, and argues that things are improving:

Ofsted reported in March 2007 that in primary schools, teaching and learning was judged to be at least adequate in nearly all PSHE lessons and good in three-quarters of them. In secondary schools, the quality of teaching and learning has shown a steady improvement, with 66 per
cent of lessons in key stage 3 and 75 per cent of lessons in key stage 4 judged as good.


He ends on a consilatory note:

we continue to keep the position of PSHE under review. The review of the primary curriculum, which is currently being led by Sir Jim Rose, has a specific remit to consider how to develop an integrated framework for the personal skills that all pupils should develop through their schooling. Good PSHE is essential to this process. There are also ongoing reviews of drugs education and sex and relationships education. We will consider all three reviews when they report and the future position of PSHE in the curriculum in the light of them.


Baroness Garden asks how many teachers teach PSHE without a specific qualification or training, to which the Minister says he doesn’t know. And on that note the Baroness withdrew the amendment.


Filed under: Parliament, PSHE,

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