Changes to the teaching of Sex and Relationship Education and PSHE – The Diana Award’s response

The Department for Education is exploring the current provision of PSHE and SRE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education and Sex and Relationship Education) lessons in schools and how these subjects can be improved to adequately equip young people for life in the modern world.

The Diana Award agrees with the core principles set out in the DfE consultation: that children need more support to navigate growing up in an increasingly complex and digital world and that there needs to be a universal coverage and improved quality of SRE and PSHE education for all young people. Crucially, we believe that SRE should be delivered as part of a statutory PSHE curriculum to ensure that it forms part of an overall focus on healthy relationships and the wider world.

We know from delivering Anti-Bullying training in schools that the issues young people face online and offline are increasingly complex:

  • In a recent study The Diana Award conducted, we discovered that the top online issues young people are concerned about include one of their online accounts being broken into (44%), being bullied on social media (43%) and others starting an argument with them online (39%).
  • Our research shows that 61% of primary school children and 49% of secondary school children have experienced some form of bullying.
  • Young people taking part in our Be Strong Online Ambassador training report that they are most likely to see other young people in their school affected by tiredness as a result of tech/ internet use (89%), feeling ‘hooked’ to their device (88%) and posting something online they later regret (82%). The introduction of a statutory PSHE curriculum presents a great opportunity to further equip young people with the skills they need to cope with these challenges. Celebrating difference, managing conflict and respect and tolerance for others are all fundamental building blocks in developing healthy relationships and self-esteem which can form part of a comprehensive PSHE curriculum.

However it is important to note that whilst lessons focusing on bullying and cyberbullying are welcomed, we would encourage schools to complement these with a wider whole-school approach to tackling bullying that engages young people throughout the school year. It is also important that staff members responsible for the teaching of SRE and PSHE are fully equipped with the support, training and resources they need to plan and deliver effective lessons.

The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Ambassador Programme aims to empower young people with the confidence and skills they need to change the attitudes, behaviours, and culture of bullying in their schools, communities and online. A comprehensive PSHE and SRE curriculum would reinforce these skills with an understanding of how to effectively manage relationships and cope with conflict in a positive way.

Click here to view our full response to this consultation.