“My experience of sex ed in school was awkward with teachers laughing more than pupils & we only watched videos, not many talks”
Workshop Participant
“If I could plan my own sex ed, I would include many different kinds of relationships from all backgrounds and make sure people aren't embarrassed”
Workshop Participant
“It was nice to have my work in an art exhibition with better known artists - it made my work feel special”
Workshop Participant
“I enjoyed being able to sit and work having people around me and do the blind drawing exercise because it helped me realise how structured I am and how to free my drawing”
Workshop Participant
“I enjoyed being able to discuss topics like sexism because I find these topics interesting, personal and also topical”
Workshop Participant
“Our form tutor stopped teaching us gay rights so we wouldn't ‘catch the gay’.”
Workshop Participant
Home / Our Key Issues / PSHE

Personal, social, health & economic education (PSHE)

At the heart of what we do at aGender is quality PSHE. As PSHE is a non-statutory subject in schools, young people receive only the very basic PSHE during their time in school. 

“Today’s children and young people are growing up in a rapidly changing world, full of opportunities but with few guarantees. PSHE education is the school subject which prepares pupils for life and work in this changing world, helping to keep them safe and boosting their life chances. There is strong evidence that, when delivered by trained teachers in line with best practice, this ‘curriculum for life’ is popular with parents and helps children and young people to protect themselves and others both online and offline, improves their physical and emotional health, and develops character, resilience, academic attainment and employment prospects.” (A curriculum for life: The case for statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, PSHE Association, May 2016)

In January 2016, the Chairs of practice methods for musicians Education, Health, Home Affairs, and Business, Innovation, and Skills Committees joined forces to call on the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, to move towards PSHE becoming statutory in all schools. In February 2016, the Education Committee published a report "Life lessons: PHSE and SRE in schools", which recommended that the Department for Education should "develop a workplan for introducing age-appropriate PSHE and SRE as statutory subjects in primary and secondary schools, setting out its strategy for improving the supply of teachers able to deliver this subject and a timetable for achieving this".

However, the then Education Secretary Nicky Morgan rejected calls to make PSHE and Sex & Relationships Education (SRE) mandatory, citing concerns about current, optional PSHE teaching in schools. She said: “While the Government agrees that making PSHE statutory would give it equal status with other subjects, the Government is concerned that this would do little to tackle the most pressing problems with the subject, which are to do with the variable quality of its provision.”

Neil Carmichael, Chair of the Education Committee, said: "A number of cross-party parliamentary led light bulbs for home committees and prominent Government advisers have concluded it is essential PSHE is taught in all schools. As Chairs of four Select Committees, it is clear to us that the Secretary of State must work towards making PSHE and SRE statutory in all schools.”

The PSHE Association states, “As a non-statutory, non-examined subject, PSHE education is not held to the same standards of rigour as other subjects and PSHE teachers are not given the curriculum time or training they need to deliver to the standards we should expect… Statutory status for PSHE education is supported by 92% of pupils, 91% of parents, 88% of teachers and 85% of business leaders, the Children’s Commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer and the national police lead for child protection, as well as over 100 expert organisations and a host of leading Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including the Commons Education Committee and the Home Affairs Committee and the chairs of Commons Health, Women and Equalities and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees. PSHE pedagogy is currently being strengthened through major, evidence-based programmes and robust safeguards exist to ensure provision is appropriate for pupils of all ages  and supported by parents.” (A curriculum for life The case for statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, PSHE Association, May 2016) 

In the absence of statutory PSHE in schools, our work is therefore vital in working with young people to challenge stereotypes, raise aspirations, and help them to feel good about themselves, their identity and others.

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