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Education in the media: 10 February 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Curriculum, Mental Health

Today’s news review looks at sex and relationship education, support staff in schools and mental health.

Sex and relationship education

Today, Friday 10 February, the Telegraph has written a story about a proposed amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill, put forward by 23 MPs, that calls for sex and relationship education (SRE) to be made compulsory in all secondary schools.

SRE is already compulsory in all maintained secondary schools, with many primary schools also choosing to teach it. In addition, many academies teach SRE as part of the requirement to teach a broad and balanced curriculum. Statutory guidance makes it clear that all SRE education should be age-appropriate and that schools should ensure young people develop positive values and a moral framework that will guide their decisions, judgements and behaviour. This is particularly relevant to sexual consent and the guidance makes clear that all young people should understand how the law applies to sexual relationships.

The Secretary of State recently outlined the Government’s current position on SRE to Parliament on Thursday 2 February.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

High-quality education on sex and relationships is a vital part of preparing young people for success in adult life.


It is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and, as the Education Secretary said last week, we are looking at options to ensure all children have access to high-quality teaching in these subjects.


We are working closely with select committee chairs and others and will update the House in the passage of the Children and Social Work Bill.

Support staff

Today, the Association of Teachers & Lecturers (ATL) published a survey of teaching assistants which claimed that more support staff are now teaching lessons in schools. Almost eight in ten support staff (78 per cent) say they feel the work they do when covering a class is the same as that of a teacher.

The story was picked up the Daily Telegraph, BBC Online and MailOnline, which links these findings to wider concerns around school funding.

The rules are clear that teaching assistants are allowed to teach classes, provided they are assisting or supporting the work of a qualified teacher. It is up to schools to decide how to train, develop and use their teaching assistants and we trust them to do so in a way that best meets their needs. The full guidance is available here.

It is also important to note that school funding is currently at a record high, totalling over £40 billion in 2016-17.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Teaching assistants are allowed to teach classes but we are absolutely clear that schools should use them to add value to the what teachers do, not replace them. It is up to individual schools to decide how to train, develop and use their teaching assistants effectively.


We want schools to have the resources they need, and through our careful management of the economy we have been able to protect the core schools budget in real terms. That means that in 2016-17 schools have more funding than ever before for children’s education, totalling over £40 billion.  The national fair funding formula we are currently consulting on will ensure schools are funded according to their pupils’ needs, rather than by their postcode, giving headteachers certainty over their future budgets and helping them make long term plans.

Mental health

Today children’s mental health charity, Place2Be and the school leaders’ union NAHT, published results from a survey that found more than half of school leaders find it difficult to find mental health services for pupils, and one in five found their support unsuccessful.

The findings were discussed on the Victoria Derbyshire Show and covered by the i Newspaper and the TES.

We have always been clear that we want children and young people to have the support they need, which the Prime Minister reiterated in an announcement last month, in addition to the record £1.4billion investment into this area.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

As the Prime Minister announced last month, we want to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff to ensure children and young people get the help and support they need and deserve. This is backed by a record £1.4billion government investment to transform the mental health support available and school funding is also at its highest level on record.


As part of this, we have already announced plans for every secondary school in the country to be offered mental health first aid training. There will also be a major thematic review of mental health services for children and young people across the country and a new Green Paper to look at a range of ways to transform services for children and young people in schools, universities and for families.

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