THE BLOG

Failure to Make PSHE Compulsory Is a Missed Opportunity to Make a Difference

15/02/2016 10:43 GMT | Updated 12/02/2017 10:12 GMT

It's hugely disappointing the Government has chosen not to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) a compulsory feature of our education system.

Young people need to know about the world around them so they can begin to make informed judgements and decisions and PSHE is a clear and positive way to educate young people in an objective and non-judgemental environment.

One of the many issues covered by PSHE is healthy relationships and gender equality.

These are crucial issues affecting the lives of girls and young women. According to Girlguiding research in the past week 81% of girls aged 11 -21 say they have experienced or seen some form of everyday sexism and 42% have read something that trivialised violence or abuse towards women.

We need a space to address sexist behaviour and the impact they have on society's treatment of women. Statutory PSHE would provide this space - helping to change attitudes and behaviours from school age.

According to Girlguiding research consent and gender identity are other important topics that a large numbers of girls say should be taught in school, but a comparatively small number report that they actually have been.

Furthermore, only 53% of girls aged 11 to 16 say they have been taught about their choices if they were to become pregnant and only 67% have had lessons on sexual transmitted infections.

It's unfair that young people will now have to actively seek out this knowledge - which can often be embarrassing and upsetting to explore alone - instead of learning about in an environment where they feel comfortable. Even more worryingly, many young people may not seek out this knowledge at all. The government has sent out a message to young people that education in this area is not important when, it's very clear that young people need support. Failure to act is a missed opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of thousands of young men and women across the UK.

As a Girlguiding member, I'm lucky to have a space to discuss important subjects, such as healthy relationships and body confidence - thanks to our Peer Education programme. This programme sees young women aged 14 to 25 deliver sessions on relevant issues to younger girls in guiding in a safe and supportive environment.

And as a member of Girlguiding's youth Advocate panel, I will continue to campaign for PHSE to be both improved and made mandatory in all schools. We need this vital support for all young people.