Focus: Policy and Politics - Question Time - Emily Arkell, policy adviser, NSPCC

What interest does the NSPCC have in the Education and Inspections Bill?

We are interested in various aspects, including personal, social and health education (PSHE). We have been working in coalition with a number of other charities, including the National Children's Bureau, Unicef UK and the Terrence Higgins Trust, in a bid to get the Bill amended so that PSHE is compulsory at all key stages. During the Bill's committee stage in the Lords, Baroness Massey of Darwen tabled an amendment to make PSHE a statutory part of the curriculum.

How was the amendment received?

The amendment was withdrawn, but the Government is prepared to look at the issue. The feeling was that making PSHE compulsory would go against the flexibility the Government is trying to introduce to the curriculum.

It is trying to reduce the number of compulsory subjects.

How did the Commons respond?

There was a much more negative response in the Commons - it was felt the amendment wasn't needed at all.

How are you moving this on?

We're keen to get this into the Bill. We might try to get the amendment re-tabled. We're planning to meet officials at the Department for Education and Skills to see how we can take this issue forward before the report stage in the next parliamentary session.

Why is PSHE is so important?

Research shows children, young people and parents want it. It helps academic learning and develops skills for employment. Most importantly for the NSPCC, it promotes health, wellbeing and safety. Sex education is already compulsory for children and young people, but it usually deals only with the mechanical side. We'd like PSHE, which looks at the emotional side, to complement sex education.

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