Children and young people want it, most parents want it and in October 2008 at long last this government showed leadership on it by announcing the intention to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education statutory. For many of us campaigning with and for children and young people this signalled the end of an era. The door was open. It was going to happen. Albeit slightly slower than expected. And as we gallop towards a general election with a short parliamentary session, I believe the door is still open.
Has the amendment laid down by Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, that provides school with right to teach PSHE Education in line with their religious character really provided an opt out for faith schools?
Was the amendment necessary? Not in my view. Is the amendment devastating? Probably not as long as schools know what they must deliver. Will it reassure some? Probably.
It is always important to know what you are arguing about. It seems to me that PSHE Education is becoming a battleground for age old arguments about state aided 'faith based schools'. Regardless of the school, PSHE Education has to be as good as it can be, and that is what this legislation must seek to ensure.
Legislating for Statutory PSHE Education is morally and socially right. It should have happened at least five years ago and must get through now. If it gets through, it will bring about systemic change and real, lasting benefit to children and young people in line with the Every Child Matters agenda. Let's keep our eyes and our minds on the big prize, statutory PSHE that will help drive standards up. This legislation, with all its limitations is worth our support.