Firm plans for compulsory PSHE needed ‘urgently’, says Children’s Commissioner

The government is under pressure to release “firm plans” for compulsory personal, social, health and economics education (PSHE) in all schools.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, told MPs in a parliamentary session today, that she has been “asking questions” about proposals to make PSHE statutory.

Currently, there is no requirement for any schools to deliver PSHE lessons, although local authority-maintained schools are encouraged to teach the subject through the national curriculum.

I think we have to see that come through, in terms of firm plans. I haven’t seen those yet

But, earlier this year, parliament passed a law giving Justine Greening, the education secretary, the power to introduce compulsory PSHE at some point in the future.

However, unlike compulsory sex and relationships education, which Greening now has a duty to introduce in 2019, there is no timeframe for the implementation of compulsory PSHE.

Longfield told the parliamentary education committee this morning there was a “matter of urgency” in the need for the extension of PSHE teaching to all pupils, and said she had asked to see “firm plans” from the government.

These plans should be for “consistent” and “high-quality” PSHE, taught by “specialist individuals”, she said.

“I think we have to see that come through, in terms of firm plans. I haven’t seen those yet, I am asking questions about that, but I think there is an urgency around plans for PSHE coming into place.

“I would worry if they didn’t go down the road of being fulsome in terms of consistent, in terms of specialist teachers, in terms of high quality, meaningful lessons.”

Longfield also repeated her calls from earlier this year for pupils to be trained in “digital literacy”, to help keep them safe online. This should form part of the new PSHE curriculum, she said.

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