The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that all pupils will study compulsory Health Education (HE) as well as compulsory Relationships Education (RE) in primary school and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary school.  The announcement comes alongside eagerly awaited draft guidance on what schools should teach and the legal duties with which schools must comply when teaching these subjects. The guidance - last updated in 2000 – will now become compulsory in all schools across the country by September 2020. The consultation on the draft guidance closes on 7 November 2018.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 placed a duty on the Secretary of State for Education to make the new subjects of Relationships Education at primary and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at secondary compulsory through regulations. The Act also provides a power for the Secretary of State to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE), or elements of the subject, mandatory in all schools. The department has engaged thoroughly with a wide range of interested organisations and conducted a call for evidence on the content of the subjects, and the status of PSHE.  

The findings gathered from the process have informed the drafting of the regulations, statutory guidance and regulatory impact assessment, on which the department is now consulting. This includes the department’s decision to make Health Education compulsory, not all of PSHE.

So, how might this impact on you? Do you have a view on what should be included and how DfE should or could be supporting educators with this agenda? The consultation will feed into the final guidance so if you have a view, get involved!

Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association said: 

The government’s commitment to mandatory health and relationships education is welcome and a major step forward. Damian Hinds has shown outstanding leadership in guaranteeing young people an education that supports their physical and mental health, wellbeing and relationships. Many schools are already preparing young people for life through high quality PSHE education and these measures will encourage them to continue this work while helping to ensure a levelling up of PSHE standards across all schools so that all pupils benefit.

Health and wellbeing are central pillars of PSHE education, and this – along with recent commitments to mandatory relationships education – gives a clear signal to all schools that regular, high-quality PSHE should be a central part of their curriculum.

We are disappointed that mandatory status doesn’t apply to the whole of PSHE, but schools mustn’t feel any need to de-prioritise aspects of the subject that fall outside health, wellbeing and relationships. Learning about economic wellbeing and preparing for work are vital to preparing young people for modern life – and are inextricably linked to health and relationships. Schools should continue to plan their PSHE as a coherent programme taking all aspects into account.

These commitments are a huge boost which will benefit children, young people, parents and carers, for many years to come. We will now look closely at the draft guidance and reply to the consultation on how it can work best for schools and young people”.

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