Government Moves Closer to Compulsory Alcohol and Drugs Education for Schools

Mentor welcomes the Government's announcement to make Relationships and Sex Education a statutory requirement in all schools in England along with the intent to broaden statutory PSHE education.

1 March 2017 | Education

An announcement made today by Education Secretary Justine Greening marks an important step in the campaign to protect all school students from risks through PSHE education. Schools will be required to deliver Relationships Education and the Government will be consulting to broaden the scope of statutory PSHE to include subjects such as drugs and alcohol.

Ms Greening said in a written Ministerial Statement:

“I am today announcing my intention to put Relationships and Sex Education on a statutory footing, so every child has access to age appropriate provision, in a consistent way. I am also announcing my intention to take a power that will enable me to make PSHE statutory in future, following further departmental work and consultation on subject content.”

The change was made by a Government amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill, which will require all primary schools in England to teach age appropriate relationships education, and for all secondary schools to include appropriate sex education as well.

Mentor welcomes this announcement about Relationships and Sex Education, and will be working together with partners towards the goal of PSHE including drugs and alcohol education.

Mentor will continue to campaign for more evidence-based prevention education that challenges common misconceptions about drug use among young people and builds pupils’ resilience and life skills through high-quality education. Resilience is the key to protecting young people not only from the harms associated with unhealthy relationships and sex, but also a wide range of other risks, including mental health and substance abuse.

Mentor’s Chief Executive Michael O’Toole said: “This appears to be a significant sign of intent from Ministers. Mentor will engage fully in any forthcoming consultation with the aim of broadening the scope of compulsory PSHE to encompass drugs and alcohol. That would help all young people to have the best chance to lead healthy, fulfilling lives not damaged by substance misuse. Mentor can show quality prevention has a sound evidence base and has a substantial and positive impact on young peoples’ lives.”

Statutory PSHE is supported by 90% of parents, 90% of young people, 88% of teachers and 85% of business leaders, as well as more than 120 expert organisations from the third sector. Mentor strongly believes that making PSHE statutory across more subjects will create motivation for schools to liaise and engage more with parents, strengthening the protective factors that build young people’s resilience to a range of negative risks.