ACT response to DFE consultation on Relationships and Health education
We submitted a response developed with the support of ACT council today raising 8 important points on the DFE proposals for Relationship and Health education.
1. In the future a child’s education and especially the curriculum that they are taught will be increasingly determined simply by the type of school they attend. This is because the basic and national curriculum have a different legal status in different school types and this effects the curriculum and what is taught. These proposals represent the first time new subjects have been included in the basic curriculum rather than the national curriculum. Schools will need further advice to understand the implications and consequences of this.
2. ‘Personal’ Relationship and ‘Personal’ Relationship and Sex Education would be a more appropriate title because key aspects of wider social and relationship education such as identity, diversity, belonging to groups and communities and the relationship between citizens and the state are taught in Citizenship and are not included in the new proposals.
3. To ensure schools do start with the existing subject curriculum, the proposed legal regulations should be amended to include that schools must have regard to ‘what is taught in the school curriculum and the national curriculum where that is taught’.
4. The ‘Right to Withdraw’ from sex education should be described so that it is clear there is no right to withdraw from the national curriculum in maintained schools.
5. There are significant areas of Citizenship in the proposals, particularly in relation to teaching core subject content including the law, rights and responsibilities of citizens and active citizenship and social action. ACT’s 2018 teaching survey shows there remains confusion about the distinctions and differences between the subject of Citizenship and programmes of PSHE education in terms of aim, purpose, content and skills, particularly among head teachers. These proposals further conflate areas of the curriculum which relate to both these subjects and this is unhelpful to schools. The draft Statutory Guidance should set out clearly where the national curriculum for Citizenship is relevant to the proposed new content, and the document should be amended to ensure that any content that is Citizenship, is clearly presented and described as Citizenship. ACT has provided specific suggestions about this to DFE.
6. Citizenship is established in law as a foundation national curriculum subject. DFE and Ofsted should avoid any language that has the effect of undermining Citizenship as a subject, and ensure that any curricular or teaching strategies promoted in guidance start with the existing curriculum subjects, including Citizenship, and encourage schools to plan any new requirements to complement these. Schools should not simply be encouraged to continue what they already do unless what they are doing is compliant with statutory requirements and represents good quality education.
7. A practical school support and regional training package should be designed and implemented with input and involvement of ACT and Citizenship teachers who will, in many schools, be asked to take forward work on the proposed new subjects.
8. Economic and financial education is a well-established area of Citizenship and we welcome the opportunity to focus on the enhancing role of the existing subject of Citizenship as the basis for teaching this area. However economic and financial education has been less well defined and supported than other aspects of the subject. We hope the DFE will support ACT as the subject association in taking forward work with others to better clarify economic and finance education in Citizenship in primary to post 16 education and in quality assuring new resources for teachers.