Education is key to the strength of our society, the success of our economy and the well-being of our citizens. Young people in Britain need to receive an education that provides them with the knowledge and skills that will empower them to realise their potential in adulthood. To this end it is crucial that all schools include adequate provision for PSHE.
PSHE stands for Personal, Social, Health and Economic education. It is the part of the curriculum that covers areas such as sex and sexuality, relationships and domestic violence, drug use, mental and physical health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, personal finance and employability. Without learning the facts about these issues young people are at risk of encountering a whole range of problems in later life.
Although 87% of parents support compulsory PSHE, there is no statutory requirement for state-funded schools to teach it. In fact, a 2013 Ofsted report found that PSHE education was inadequate in 40% of schools.
Throughout my work prior to being elected in domestic violence prevention, I championed PSHE education and developed resources for teaching about relationships and abuse that are still in use in schools today (the ‘Spiralling’ toolkit: http://www.bava.org.uk/professionals/resources/). During my campaign I worked with young people from local secondary schools who made clear to me the extent to which this issue concerned them.
Action must be taken on PSHE education as soon as possible. That is why I have sponsored Caroline Lucas’s PSHE bill, presented to the House on Wednesday. Owing to the support of Labour MPs in a vote the Bill will be given a second reading in January 2016. If passed it will make a broad PSHE curriculum a statutory requirement for state-funded schools to teach. By educating young people around topics like consent in relationships, domestic violence prevention and LGBT issues, we can raise a better informed and more understanding generation fully prepared for the challenges of adult life.