The PSHE Review. Respondents and Homophobic Bullying in the report

In March 2013 the DfE published the outcomes of the latest PSHE review (DfE 2013). The publication of this review took over 16 months to complete from the close of the consultation process in November 2011. Unfortunately the review was problematic in the way that it did not weight responses correctly so the review made it seem like parents were the biggest respondents (168) when other organisations who responded included the Sex Education Forum (who represent over 70 organisations working in the sector who were consulted on the response), as well as the PSHE Association (who surveyed their 2000+ membership before submitting their response) but in the final report their responses only counted as 1 response each. Thus a single parent voice was given equal weight to huge organisations consisting of hundreds of professional voices when compiling the review.

I discovered the published report on the consultation does not include mention of homophobia, sexual orientation, sexuality AT ALL (but racism and gender equality are included) but given I like to track these things I compiled the table below that outlines the responses possibly could be relevant to challenging homophobia contained within the PSHE report.

“Many respondents thought that PSHE outcomes could be evidenced in the positive behaviour of pupils, and observable attitudes and relationships across the school and the local community. They believed PSHE outcomes must move away from quantitative outcomes to things such as school ethos, attitudes to bullying, promotion of equality, and improved social behaviour.
68 (12%) felt that being able to recognise bullying should be a core outcome of PSHE. Respondents identified two separate issues. Some felt that the main outcome should be to offer support to pupils who were being bullied and help them to deal with the consequences of negative relationships. Others felt that the reason for including the topic was to promote equality and enable pupils to be able to identify and tackle bullying amongst their peers. 
137 (24%) believed pupils must be given the knowledge to respect others and to appreciate different beliefs. It was mentioned that it was important that they had an understanding of the differences between people and cultures, about gender equality and had the ability to challenge racism, discrimination and stereotyping.

Then I went back to some of the organisations who submitted responses just to see what they had said about homophobia, homophobic bullying, sexual orientation, & sexuality.

I copy and paste the most relevant below (I have not C&P’d every mention but have hyperlinked to the reports where available online so you can check them)

PSHE Association, – Under Qu 7 request for case studies-

“Teacher training in the area of homophobic bullying has also helped in the way we deal with homophobic bullying (as we are in a primary school this would often be the derogatory use of the word ‘Gay’ and hopefully will impact on the incidents of homophobic bullying that we have). Ofsted PSHE inspection 2009 ‘outstanding’.”

SEF response

“Be positively inclusive in terms of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, culture,
age, religion or belief or other life-experience particularly HIV status and pregnancy;”

FPA & Brook Response:

“We believe that it is vital for any updated guidance on relationships and sex education to address the needs of all children and young people, including young people with special educational needs (SEN) or learning disabilities, disabled children and young people, children and young people in care and lesbian, gay or bisexual children and young people. It is vital that all relationships and sex education is inclusive and non-discriminatory. Ways this can be done includes not making assumptions about faith-based or cultural practices, challenging any homophobia, racism or sexism, and ensuring that resources and discussions reflect the diversity of the pupils.”


“We believe that the relationships element of
PSHE education must take proper account of the imbalance of power in many relationships which can manifest itself in bullying, violent, abusive and/or discriminatory behaviour based amongst others on race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion or belief and
social class. We also recommend that the relationships element of PSHE education is more explicitly joined up with wider initiatives aimed at eliminating all forms of bullying, discrimination, violence and hate crime, including culturally-specific violence against women and girls.”


“Despite this, cyberbullying is clearly an issue affecting teachers in other countries outside the UK, with cyber-abuse related to gender and sexual orientation being most frequent.ETUCE 2010”

Stonewall (their response is not available online but I requested a copy and funnily enough there is considerable focus on homophobia and homophobic bullying throughout the document including:

PSHE provides children and young people with the opportunity to discuss topics like homophobic bullying, different families including same-sex families and lesbian, gay and bisexual issues. Discussing these issues in an appropriate and structured way helps break down stereotypes, for example, about what boys and girls ‘should and shouldn’t do’. It also provides all pupils, including those who are, or will grow up to be, lesbian, gay and bisexual, with relevant information enabling them to make safe choices. However, at present the PSHE framework does not give clear enough guidance to schools about what issues to address and how to address them. Developing a more inclusive PSHE framework and programme of study which specifically includes age-appropriate information about different families and homophobic bullying and information on how schools can work effectively with parents and carers around these issues, will help the Government’s aim in tackling this form of bullying as outlined in the Schools White Paper 2010; will help schools comply with the Equality Act 2010 and public sector Equality Duty; and will help schools to meet the requirements of the new proposed Ofsted inspection framework.”


“Ninety per cent of secondary school teachers and 44% of primary school teachers say that children and young people experience homophobic bullying, name calling or harassment at school, yet most incidents go unreported (Guasp 2007). Pupils who experience homophobic bullying are more likely to miss school and less likely to stay in full-time education (Department for Children, Schools and Families 2009b). Further, most teachers and non-teaching staff in primary and secondary schools have not received training in how to tackle this form of bullying, and most would not feel confident in providing pupils with information, advice and guidance on lesbian and gay issues (Department for Children, Schools and Families 2007).”

British Humanist Association:

“Homophobic Bullying is a major issue in all schools, but is a particular issue in ‘faith’ schools. Stonewall’s 2007 ‘The School Report’ showed that two thirds of young gay people at secondary schools have experienced homophobic bullying, but in ‘faith’ schools that figure rises to three in four. The report also showed that lesbian and gay pupils who attend ‘faith’ schools are 23% less likely to report bullying than those at other schools.’1 Many ‘faith’ schools also have issues with teaching about relationships other than heterosexual relationships, and it is important that different sexual orientations are treated equally including in issues to do with marriage and civil partnership.”

National Secular Society

Reduce homophobic bullying by improving education and normalising all sexualities. A YouGov polling demonstrates that nine in ten secondary school teachers and more than
two in five primary school teachers have witnessed children being subjected to homophobic bullying in their schools. Teachers say the vast majority of homophobic incidents go unreported by pupils. Three quarters of young LGBT people who attend faith schools have experienced homophobic bullying4.

National AIDS Trust

“This can also link with work on bullying. However, more broadly the PSHE curriculum needs to focus more explicitly on attitudes and values, in order to properly address issues such as HIV-related stigma, homophobia and racism.”

Accord Coalition

We are very concerned how schools may deal with issues of sexual difference and diversity. Homophobia is a major issue in schools, but is a particular issue in the faith school sector. Stonewall’s 2007 ‘The School Report’ showed that two thirds of young gay people at secondary schools have experienced homophobic bullying, but in schools with a religious character the figure rises to three in four. The report also showed that lesbian and gay pupils who attend these schools are 23% less likely to report bullying than those at schools without a faith designation[1].

We believe stronger guidance should be given to help schools cover issues of sexual difference and diversity so that they are able to balances setting out religious and cultural perspectives with schools vitally important requirement to promote equality and encourages acceptance of diversity. PSHE could and should play an important role in schools tackling bullying based on sexual difference.

Other organisations I suspect will have mentioned homophobic bullying but I have not been able to see a copy of their responses are Anti-Bullying alliance, Beat Bullying, NAH, Banardos, Astell Project, NAH and ASCL. The DfE has supplied me with a list of respondents to the PSHE review and I have gone through them and know many people personally in the list who would also have flagged it as an issue. So this suggests to me that this was raised in a reasonable proportion of responses, although obviously without checking all 699 reponses I can’t know for sure.

Interesting then how the words Homophobia, Homophobic Bullying, Sexuality and Sexual Orientation are then COMPLETELY ABSENT FROM THE PSHE REPORT. Silenced Sexualities in 2013. How very disappointing. Not only are we having to stick with the SRE Guidance that is possibly in breach of the equalities act. But we also have an education department who can’t even bring themselves to mention the words Homophobia, Homophobic Bullying, Sexuality or Sexual Orientation- in a report about Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE). The exact place these things would and should be covered.

It makes me so cross.



Sex and Relationships Education should be an entitlement for all children and young people

We are still waiting on the outcomes of the PSHE review where both the Sex Education Forum (SEF) and the PSHE Association submitted that:

 “SRE should be an entitlement for all children and young people.”

I think sometimes we get so bogged down in the “parental right of withdrawal from SRE” argument that we actually forget about the rights of the child to learn about their body, to learn how to protect themselves, to stay safe and to have happy and fulfilling relationships.  Absolutely these things can and should be taught by both home and school.  Yes parents have rights, but so too do their offspring. Young People are consistently complaining their SRE was “too little, too latetoo biological” so there is a clear demand from young people to have their needs met with an entitlement to high quality age appropriate sex and relationships education written into the statute.

I often think those that are against the idea of sex and relationship education often confuse innocence with ignorance.  Not telling my children about how their body works (in an age and stage appropriate way) would be remiss of me, in fact neglectful of me, as a parent.  Children and young people are desperate to learn more about relationships, about their bodies about how babies are made and about things that are going to be coming up for them before they happen so they are prepared for them.   We cannot deny them this right to knowledge and support their development into adulthood.

Currently all parents have a right of withdrawal from Sex Education apart from those aspects in the Science National Curriculum.  I would argue that any parent withdrawing a child from SRE in schools (Less than 1% of parents) should be able to provide evidence that they are covering the necessary knowledge, skills & understanding at home.

It will be very interesting to see how the governments responds to this when the PSHE Review is published hopefully by the Autumn.  I do hope they will listen and enshrine the entitlement for comprehensive SRE  for our children and young people in law.  Anything less is to do our young people another great disservice (like when PSHE failed to be made statutory in 2010).

What do you think?

A leetle bit of a rant about the PSHE Review


I’m a very busy girl at the minute, I work, I volunteer, I write, I parent etc etc. and I think many of you reading this (especially the teachers on first week back after half term) are in exactly the same position.

I have had “COMPLETE PSHE REVIEW” on my to-do list for ages now.  It’s due at end of November.   I genuinely meant to blog sample answers to help people filling it in and all sorts, but having looked and looked at the DfE consultation documents I simply do not have the time to go through and do any of them justice because there is just so so much I want to think about and write and say and rant and shout and ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH why did they have to make this such a complicated process? (and the cynical part of me wonders if this is deliberate- I mean if even me- “Ms. Completely Obsessed by all things PSHE” is really struggling then “Mr/Ms.Takingavagueinterest” aren’t going to bother are they?)

Now I am also bemused as to why PSHE needed to be entirely separated out of the rest of the curriculum review process as it is still a subject that forms part of the curriculum- it doesn’t really need special treatment.  I am also bemused as to why we are having ANOTHER review? The joys of a new government throwing the baby out with the bathwater- so much amazing work has already been done reviewing PSHE (in particular SRE) so why on earth are we not building on from this and actually improving things? But no we must now go back to consultation stage just because we have a new government in power.  Sigh sigh sigh.

But anyhow although I needed to rant about this the wonderful PSHE Association have come to my rescue with helpful surveys and events I can feed into (but survey closes tomorrow so hurry up!).  The lovely  Sex Education Forum have also launched a survey and held events. Plus I know organisations like Mumsnet, British Humanist Society etc are also planning on formulating responses, so rather than getting stressed about not having time to feed into review as an individual, feed into it as a member of your organisation- strength in numbers and all that- the most important thing is to try to feed into it somehow no matter how busy you are-no excuses- myself included!

*bossy face*