Lords vote to keep personal, social and health education out of the curriculum

writes Lauren Revans

Members of the House of Lords have rejected attempts to raise the status of personal, social and health education (PSHE) in schools.

Lords rejected by 173 to 85 an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill that would have seen PSHE made a statutory part of the national curriculum, despite the change being backed by a whole range of organisations including children’s charities the NSPCC and the National Children’s Bureau.

NCB chief executive Paul Ennals said PSHE had a vital role to play in promoting the physical, emotional and well-being of children and young people, but that a significant number of children were still “losing out”.

“Many schools deliver excellent PSHE programmes,” Ennals said. “But because it is not a statutory subject, it can be difficult for some schools to give it the priority it needs.”

But, arguing against the amendment, education minister Lord Adonis insisted that the government had actively sought improvements in PSHE and would continue to invest in training, support and incentives for PSHE rather than seek statutory changes that would place yet more statutory burdens on schools.

The House of Lords vote came the day after the Institute for Public Policy Research called for sex education be taught to children in their last year of primary school after research due to be published by the think-tank next month revealed that British teenagers are the most sexually active in Europe and the third least likely to use a condom during underage sex.

“The proportion of young people who are sexually active before the age of consent has risen from less than one per cent to 25 per cent [over the last 50 years],” said IPPR senior research fellow Julia Margo. “Our education system must respond in kind and start teaching children about the risks involved in sex before they even consider taking those risks.”

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