Personal Social and Health Education

Children, Schools and Families written question – answered on 7th January 2008.

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Photo of Chris McCafferty Chris McCafferty Labour, Calder Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

(1) what estimate he has made of the number of parents who opted their children out of personal social and health education in the latest period for which figures are available;

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of schools which did not include sex and relationships education in their personal social and health education curriculum in the latest period for which figures are available;

(3) how many (a) school nurses and (b) school nurses who teach sex and relationships education in schools there were in the latest period for which figures are available.

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

holding answer 17 December 2007

The Department does not collect data on the number of pupils withdrawn from personal, social and health education (PSHE). However, Ofsted's survey on SRE published in 2002 found that only 0.04 per cent. of pupils were withdrawn from the non-statutory aspects of SRE normally delivered through PSHE.

Similarly, the Department does not collect data or the number of schools who include SRE within PSHE, but departmental guidance on SRE (DfES, 2000) makes clear that schools should embed SRE within their programmes for PSHE.

In 2006 there were 1,129 school nurses with a school nurse qualification (an increase of 31.9 per cent. since 2004). Their involvement in the delivery of SRE is a decision for primary care trusts and individual schools. The Department recognises the unique contribution that school nurses make to SRE and encourages all those involved in classroom delivery to undertake the National PSHE: Continuing Professional Development Programme. This accredited programme supports standards in the delivery of PSHE teaching including sex and relationships education.

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Nick Gulliford
Posted on 8 Jan 2008 2:20 pm (Report this annotation)

The top recommendation of the Ofsted report in April 2002 to which the Minister refers was that children should be taught more about values; an issue about which ministers are invariably silent. Professor David Paton of Nottingham University has been reported as saying, "The underlying social deprivation of an area, family breakdown rates and religion seems to have a greater effect on teenage pregnancy rates than more obvious policies such as sex education or providing access to family planning. There has been a tendency for the Government's teenage pregnancy strategy to focus on creating schemes where teenagers can get the morning after pill or other forms of family planning at school or clinics. The danger with this sort of approach is that it can lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviour amongst some young people. There is now overwhelming evidence that such schemes are simply not effective in cutting teenage pregnancy rates." []. In peer-reviewed journals such as HEALTH ECONOMICS Health Econ. 15: 1021–1032 (2006) Published online 19 June 2006 in Wiley InterScience ( Professor Paton has drawn the same conclusion, "we find no evidence that over-the-counter emergency birth control schemes lead to lower teenage pregnancy rates".

Nick Gulliford
Posted on 8 Jan 2008 2:58 pm (Report this annotation)

In Sex Education Vol. 6, No. 3, August 2006, pp. 281–308 "Random behaviour or rational choice? Family planning, teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections" David Paton Nottingham University Business School, UK writes:

".... the results reported here demonstrate an important lesson for policy-makers, and one that is very familiar to economists. It is not enough to introduce a measure aimed at a specific outcome without considering the endogenous response of agents to the policy itself. In the case in question, there is at least some evidence that some measures aimed at reducing adolescent pregnancy rates induced changes in teenage behaviour that were large enough not only to negate the intended impact on pregnancy rates, but also to have a possible adverse impact on another important area of adolescent sexual health — STIs. The results in this paper should give some heart to proponents of standard neo-classical microeconomic models. Teenage sexual behaviour appears to be little different to other fields that economists have studied in at least one important respect: incentives matter to teenagers too!"

Will policy-makers pay attention?