Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Consultation on Primary Curriculum and PSHE

Sir Jim RoseAlong with about 200 others I’ve spent this morning at a consultation event the QCA have organised around the proposed new primary curriculum, and making PSHE a statutory subject.

The people at the event came from a very diverse set of backgrounds, for example I was sat between someone from the Ordinance Survey and on the other side a head teacher who was representing ASPE.  Others on my table were there from a business and enterprise background, a teaching union, a couple of curriculum advisers from local authorities, and someone from National Strategies.

One of the things that struck me was how positive the room was about the potential of what Sir Jim has produced.  They didn’t share the concerns expressed in the press about the importance of ICT in the proposed curriculum, and while there were concerns expressed about the naming of certain aspects of learning these were mildly put rather than a demand that we return to more clear subject based learning.

PSHE Education

That point came out even more strongly in the discussion about making PSHE statutory.  Amongst this audience 67% strongly agreed with PSHE becoming statutory, with a further 23% tending to agree with the statement.

There was also a strong majority who would not give parents the right to remove their children from the sex and relationships aspects of PSHE education.  The feeling seemed to be that education about sex and relationships (particularly relationships) was critical to the children’s personal development.

We were also asked about the name of PSHE education, and it seemed clear that there’s no real love for it.  Only 4% strongly agreed that it was the best name possible, with 20% tending to agree with the statement.  25% tended to disagree and 17% strongly disagreed – with 33% saying they didn’t know.  The discussion at our table tended towards the view that PSHE education needed a fresh start and that a new name (Life Skills was mooted) would be helpful.

There was also a strong feeling against attainment targets, with 42% saying they strongly thought there shouldn’t be any for PSHE education, and only 8% strongly feeling there should be.   However, the discussion we had also recognised that measuring attainment may be part of what PSHE education needed to gain status in school.


The consultation on these two areas remains open for everyone to contribute to until 24 July.  More details can be found on the QCA website.

Filed under: consultation, PSHE

The National Youth Agency on PSHE

The National Youth Agency have released the following statement on the Macdonald review:

“We have long supported this move, especially since young people have been telling us for some time that the quality of sex and relationships and drug education they receive can leave a lot to be desired” said NYA Chief Executive Fiona Blacke. “If we are to provide the quality and coverage that our young need in this most vital of areas, the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ commitment to commission further research on models of delivery for PSHE education must look hard and long at the vital expertise and input of many non-formal organisations into the curriculum. Examples of excellent provision – such as that in Coventry – bring together all of the right partners to broaden the relevance of the curriculum and improve access to external services.”

The NYA is also lobbying to ensure that young people will continue to have a direct influence on the PSHE curriculum at national and local levels, and that continuous professional development opportunities are also opened up to non-formal education providers involved in PSHE, including youth workers and others.

Filed under: PSHE

Consultation on PSHE and Primary Curriculum

The QCA have been asked by the secretary of state to undertake the consultations on PSHE becoming statutory and on the new primary curriculum.


They say:

Reviews into PSHE education by QCA, Ofsted and others report that the quality of delivery of PSHE education varies between schools and does not always adequately meet the needs of children and young people. One reason for this could be the subject’s current non-statutory status.

Following an independent review led by Sir Alasdair Macdonald into the provision and status of PSHE education, it has been recommended that it become part of the statutory national curriculum at all key stages. It is proposed that this will raise its status as a subject, improve provision and underline its key role in supporting children and young people’s personal wellbeing and development needs.

See more and download the consultation documents here.

Primary Curriculum

The QCA say:

Sir Jim Rose’s final report has proposed the following changes to the primary curriculum:

  • basing the revised curriculum on three fundamental aims:
    1. successful learners
    2. confident individuals
    3. responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society
  • reinforcing the importance of literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology (ICT) and learning and thinking skills, personal and emotional skills and social skills as the essentials for learning and life
  • reorganising the knowledge, skills and understanding contained in the primary curriculum into six broad areas of learning
  • creating a less prescriptive curriculum that increases flexibility for personalisation.

Find out more here.

Filed under: consultation, PSHE

Written Ministerial Statement on PSHE

Hansard has published Ed Ball’s statement on PSHE:

In October 2008, following reviews of sex and relationships education and drugs and alcohol education, I announced that I proposed to give PSHE education statutory status, subject to formal consultation. To prepare for that consultation, I invited Sir Alasdair Macdonald, headteacher of Morpeth secondary school in London, to conduct an independent review of how statutory status might be achieved in practice and what other steps should be taken to improve the consistency and quality of PSHE education so that all children and young people benefit.

Following widespread consultation with stakeholders, Sir Alasdair has completed his report, which I am publishing today. Copies are being placed in both Houses. The report contains a number of important recommendations and I am grateful to Sir Alasdair for these and for the open way in which he has conducted his review.

This statement sets out the Government’s response and the next steps. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: PSHE


Fergus Crow, Assistant Director, in the well-being department of NCB says:

“NCB welcomes Sir Alasdair Macdonald’s recommendations into how to make PSHE education statutory. For many years, NCB has called for improvements in PSHE education and children and young people have told us many times how optimistic they are about the potential of the subject only to be let down when it comes to their actual experiences in school.

In the schools of the 21st century we should expect that learning and well-being are seen as interdependent. A statutory basis for PSHE education in the National Curriculum means that all children and young people can expect that their learning in school should make a positive contribution to all aspects of their well-being as they grow towards adulthood.

NCB will be encouraging members, including members of Young NCB who have campaigned for statutory PSHE for the last two years, to contribute to the consultation process that follows”.

Filed under: PSHE

DEPF response to PSHE Report

John Hayman, vice-chair of the Drug Education Practitioners Forum has the following to say about Sir Alastair’s review of PSHE:

“Today’s MacDonald review confirms that the government’s stated intention to make PSHE education a statutory part of the primary and secondary school curriculum is not only desirable, but, crucially, it is also achievable. The Drug Education Practitioners’ Forum believes that all young people should have access to good quality education on how to live a healthy life.  PSHE education should comprise information on a range of subjects such as drugs (including alcohol), sex and relationships.  While there are many schools that currently deliver excellent PSHE education, regrettably the quality of provision remains patchy. Making PHSE statutory will hopefully address this and we urge ministers to act on Sir Alasdair’s recommendations without delay.”

Filed under: PSHE

PSHE Association responds to Sir Alasdair Macdonald’s review of PSHE

The PSHE Association have issued the following statement on Sir Alasdair Macdonald’s review:

This is a huge step towards ensuring that all children and young people can learn to make informed choices about personal, social, health and economic matters as they grow up’ said Sarah Smart, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association.

She went on to say that ‘we will be encouraging all our members to respond to the consultation on Sir Alasdair’s proposals which starts on 30 April.’

Our members will be pleased to see that Sir Alasdair suggests that the current non-statutory programmes of study form the basis of the new entitlement for secondary schools as many are already using these in their schools.

Filed under: PSHE

Independent Review of the proposal to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory

macdonaldSir Alasdair Macdonald’s review looking at making PSHE statutory has now reported.  He says:

The prominence of the subject has in fact grown in recent years, particularly with the increasing focus on the Every Child Matters outcomes and the duty on schools to promote their pupils’ wellbeing, but it has remained non-statutory and therefore its status has been unclear…

From the outset we have encountered widespread support for making PSHE education statutory but we have also been presented with a range of challenging issues. Many of these originate from the development of PSHE education as a non-statutory subject where every school has to a greater or lesser extent developed its own version of the subject. On the one hand this is a huge strength – as context is a crucial element of PSHE education – but on the other, it makes the development of a statutory National Curriculum subject far more complex.

Responding to the report Eric Carlin, Chair of the Drug Education Forum said:

The Drug Education Forum believes that every child should have an entitlement to excellent health education, and we welcome the findings and recommendations from Sir Alasdair’s review. We urge the government to accept them in full and to bring forward legislation as quickly as possible.

Our survey of the drug education profession last year showed us that one of the critical factors in getting good drug education in schools is enthusiastic school leadership.  We therefore endorse Sir Alistair’s call for the DCSF to “raise the profile of PSHE education amongst school senior leadership teams”.

However, we know that making PSHE subject statutory can’t, on its own, bring about the changes to young people’s health education that we want to see.  We are therefore delighted to see the calls for further research into effective practice and for investment in Initial Teacher Training and continuing professional development.

I’ve created two presentation – of the recommendations that Sir Alasdair makes and some of what I consider the key quotes from the document – which I hope will allow readers to quickly access the report.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Filed under: PSHE

PSHE education- Putting Policy into Practice – Conference

pshe-assocVia email I’ve had details about the PSHE Association’s annual meeting.  They say:

The second annual PSHE Association conference will provide an excellent opportunity to explore and develop curriculum practice within PSHE education. Workshops will be experiential and designed to support and improve classroom practice. A range of cross-phase workshop topics will be on offer including risk education, SRE and drug education, bereavement, planning through concepts and processes, financial education, diversity and values and more; there will also be input from QCA on the primary curriculum review.

More details on their website.

Filed under: Conferences, PSHE

Can you measure happiness in schools?

Cassandra Jardine attacks the well-being agenda for schools and PSHE in particular in the Telegraph:

And yet more hours will be given over to vague lessons of doubtful benefit when PHSE – personal, health and social education – is already creating yawning holes (and I mean yawning) in timetables. Those holes that would be better filled with science, art, music, maths and modern languages.

She goes on:

And yet there is hypocrisy in my position. Whenever I have looked around a school for one of my five children I have always tried to gauge the happiness of the pupils using measures rather more subjective than those the Government has picked.

Now read on.

Filed under: PSHE, Well-being

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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July 2021