A picture of inconsistent and inadequate provision of Personal and Social Education for Scotland’s young people in some of Scotland’s schools has been revealed by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee – of which local SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, is a Member.

The Committee’s report, Let’s Talk About Personal and Social Education (PSE), was published on 23rd May 2017 following a short inquiry into how PSE is taught in Scotland and what should be included as part of the subject.

The Committee heard there was a lack of consistency in what was being taught throughout Scotland meaning that there was patchy provision in teaching young people about sex and relationships, understanding and accepting diversity, and mental health awareness.

The Committee is now calling for a review of the delivery of PSE throughout all schools in Scotland, which includes mental health, relationships, and substance misuse.

Commenting, Ruth said:

‘I am hugely grateful to all of the pupils, teachers, and members of the public who took the time to contribute to the Committee’s inquiry. Whilst there are many examples of excellent practice of teaching PSE across Scotland, it is clear that there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that every child receives quality and fit for purpose PSE – particularly around topics such as healthy and respectful relationships, sexual consent, and LGBTI issues.

PSE must be seen as a core and crucial subject, and not just as a ‘nice to have’. Supporting children and young people to learn about respecting both themselves and others is a vital part of our education system.

I welcome that the Scottish Government has already committed to a national review of PSE as part of the Mental Health Strategy 2017-27. It is clear from the evidence gathered by the Committee that a review of PSE in our schools must be treated as a priority, and I am pleased that Scottish Government has confirmed that the Committee’s report and recommendations will be considered.

In the meantime, I will be highlighting the Committee’s report and its recommendations to the Education Department at North Ayrshire, in particular the steps that can now be taken by schools and local authorities to make sure that children are getting the most from PSE – such as working with young people to co-design and engage them in the learning process.”

To support its inquiry, the Committee asked pupils and teachers across the country what subjects should be included as part of PSE. The core topics highlighted included:

  • Sex and relationships education
  • Inclusivity
  • Mental health
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Citizenship
  • Financial planning

The Committee also welcomed the Scottish Government’s establishment of a working group on LBGTI inclusive education and acknowledged the Scottish Government’s commitment to review PSE in its Mental Health Strategy 2017-27.  The Committee recommended that any review of PSE be undertaken by Education Scotland and also focus on SRE and the extent to which PSE provision helps schools comply with existing statutory duties.

The Committee recognises that schools and teachers are very busy and any review and the delivery of PSE must take into account workload pressures.