25/01/2005

Health education 'poor' in many schools

Personal, social and health education (PSHE) is "still poor" in many secondary schools and "non-existent" in others, the education watchdog, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has warned.

According to the 'Personal, social and health education in secondary schools' report, many secondary schools are not making any attempt to judge the effect that PSHE has on pupils' attitudes and personal development.

The report also found that some schools do not teach PSHE at all, devoting more time to academic and accredited subjects.

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell, said he "could not condone" any schools who decided not to teach PSHE. He said: "High quality personal, social and health education is vital to young people's development in and out of the classroom. It is important that both schools and parents take this role seriously in order to ensure that our young people are prepared for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences they will face in later life."

Mr Bell said that some schools had been successful at establishing links with a range of support services, such as community police officers, nurses and health workers. However, he said that some schools found some aspects of personal support, including confidentiality, "difficult". He said: "Pupils rarely understand the boundaries of confidentiality in lessons and too few schools have a policy or framework that ensures its provision when needed."

More than 60 schools were visited as part of the survey and evidence was gathered from more than 100 school inspection reports.

The report made several recommendations, including seeking support from appropriate external agencies, if necessary; creating a broad PSHE programme, including mental health and well-being, parenting education and financial awareness; and specialist training for tutors teaching PSHE.

Mr Bell concluded: "The report features some case studies highlighting good practise in PSHE lessons. But clearly, these types of lessons are too few and far between. Schools must ensure that they have a well planned and structured programme for teaching personal, social and health education and that they fully assess and evaluate the programme to ensure that it fulfils the needs of their pupils."

(KMcA/SP)

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