The Education Committee says Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) and Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in schools should be given statutory status, in a report published on Tuesday 17 February.
The measure aims to ensure appropriate curriculum time is devoted to the subject and that teachers get the training they need.
Launching the report, Graham Stuart, Chair of Education Committee, said:
"There is an overwhelming demand for statutory sex and relationships education - from teachers, parents and young people themselves. It’s important that school leaders and governors take PSHE seriously and improve their provision by investing in training for teachers and putting PSHE lessons on the school timetable. Statutory status will help ensure all of this happens.
Young people have a right to information that will keep them healthy and safe. SRE forms an important part of any school’s efforts to safeguard young people from abuse, and is particularly needed to protect the most vulnerable children. PSHE builds character and resilience, and will help young people to live happy and healthy lives.
Parents have rights too. They must be consulted by schools on the provision of SRE and must keep the right to withdraw their children if they are unhappy with what the school provides."
The report investigates the actions taken by the Government to improve PSHE following Ofsted’s finding in 2013 that the subject required improvement in 40% of schools.
The Committee concludes that the Government’s current strategy for improving PSHE is weak, with a mismatch between the priority that ministers claim they give PSHE and the steps that have been taken to improve the quality of teaching in the subject.
The Education Committee recommends:
- The Department for Education should develop a work plan for introducing age-appropriate PSHE and SRE as statutory subjects in primary and secondary schools.
- All schools should be required to run a regular consultation with parents on the school’s SRE provision.
- The parental right to withdraw their child from elements of SRE should be retained.
- The Government should formally endorse and issue the SRE guidance produced by Brook, the Sex Education Forum and the PSHE Association. It should also promote this more actively to schools and governors.
- The funding of continuous professional development for PSHE teachers and school nurses should be reinstated.
- Ofsted should resume its regular subject surveys of PSHE provision.
- SRE should be renamed Relationships and Sex Education – RSE - to emphasise the relationships element of the subject.