Voice’s written evidence to The Education Committee’s Inquiry into Personal, Social, Health and Economic education and Sex and Relationships Education in schools has now been published by the Committee.
In its evidence, Voice commented:
“a key purpose of education is to prepare children and young people for adult life in partnership with parents/carers and other groups within local communities and society in general.
“Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) can facilitate this, as part of the statutory duty of schools to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils, enabling children and young people to become personally effective in adult life within society.
“PSHE should be made statutory, but not as part of the National Curriculum, and without any detailed prescriptive content, so that schools can make it bespoke in relation to the needs of their pupils and local communities.
“Parents and carers should retain a fundamental responsibility for SRE, in partnership with schools, and should keep the right to withdraw their children from this aspect of the curriculum if they so chose, given that SRE is not morally neutral.
“Teaching staff should also be allowed to exempt themselves from teaching SRE if they believe it would compromise them morally.
“The current state of PSHE in schools is variable and many different approaches are extant. Whilst there are examples of good practice, there are many areas of weakness, including lack of expertise and access to training, poor assessment and tracking of pupil progress, and lack of transferability from the classroom to real life.
“In order to improve provision and quality of delivery, PSHE needs to be made available as a specialist route for initial teacher education, Ofsted need to prioritise it within the inspection framework, and schools need to give it parity with other subjects.
“The statutory basis for SRE is currently very narrow and needs to be strengthened, but should continue to be set within a moral framework and delivered sensitively and appropriately according to the age and maturity of pupils.
“Every school should be required to have an SRE policy that is clear, informative and accessible to parents. Teaching resources should be monitored carefully for suitability and appropriateness, and staff should be adequately trained and supported to deliver SRE.
“Statutory guidance needs to be revised and supplemented from time to time in line with changes in society. Recent guidance has been useful in some areas, but also shows a worrying tendency to disenfranchise parents and lose its focus on the importance of moral values.
“The effectiveness of SRE is inherently difficulty to measure, and to do so requires clarity about purpose and objectives and reference to behaviour outside of school.”
“Delivering sex and relationships education”
The November 2013 (pdf) issue of Your Voice included an article “Delivering sex and relationships education“ (pdf) by Kristina Thordal, Director and Trainer, Tina Training Initiatives, which delivers sex and relationships education. This prompted Adrain Dulston to write a letter to the April 2014 issue. The letter then formed part of his own evidence to the inquiry.