Today our blog addresses calls from the Labour Party for SATs to be discontinued, whilst also documenting our work on Relationships and Sex Education and mental health.
There is widespread reporting of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the National Education Union (NEU) conference in Liverpool, in which he suggested that SATs would be abolished under a Labour government. This received coverage in the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, the Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Mail, the Mirror, the Sun and more.
The Key Stage 2 tests help to ensure primary schools are teaching children the fundamentals of reading, writing and maths, and help reassure parents that schools are laying the foundations for their children to succeed at secondary school and beyond.
These tests should not be a source of stress for pupils – the Education Secretary has made clear they should be treated like any other test – and we trust teachers to administer them in an appropriate way.
The Secretary of State’s op-ed on Key Stage 2 tests can be found here.
Yesterday, at the NEU conference, there was a vote among union members in favour of LGBT teaching to be statutory in the school curriculum. This was covered by the Independent and the Mirror.
We are introducing Relationships Education in primary schools, Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools, and Health Education in all state-funded schools from 2020, to help ensure that pupils are safe, happy and healthy.
A DfE spokesperson said:
We are making relationships education compulsory in all primary schools and relationships and sex education in all secondary schools from 2020.
These subjects will teach pupils the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships of all kinds, starting with family and friends. The subjects will teach children, in an age appropriate way, about healthy relationships of all kinds and will help schools’ efforts to foster respect for other people and for difference.
Pupils should receive teaching on LGBT relationships during their school years - we expect secondary schools to include LGBT content and primary schools are enabled and encouraged to cover this.
The Education Secretary Damian Hinds sent a letter on this topic to Paul Whiteman of the National Association of Headteachers last week.
Today, Wednesday 17 April, the NEU has released a press notice about a survey they conducted into children’s mental health. They surveyed 8,000 teachers, school leaders and support staff in the UK, with 83% saying they had seen an increase in the number of pupil and student mental health problems in the past two years. This was covered by the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Mirror.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Mental health is just as important as physical health and should be treated as such.
That is why the Education Secretary has made children's mental health a key priority for this government; and through our new compulsory health education all children will be taught how to look after their mental wellbeing and recognise when classmates are struggling.
We are investing more in mental health support - with an additional £2.3bn a year being spent by 2023 -24. This means that by 2023/24 an extra 345,000 children and young people up the age of 25 will benefit from a range of services, including new support teams that will provide additional trained staff to work directly with schools and colleges.
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