Page last updated: November 27, 2012
Alcohol as part of compulsory PSHE curriculum?
Diana Johnson MP has made a bid to make lessons about drugs, alcohol and relationships compulsory in classrooms.  The Relationship, Drug and Alcohol Education (Curriculum) Bill requires the Secretary of State for Education to include relationships, drug and alcohol education in the National Curriculum. The Bill was introduced by Johnson in the House of Commons on Wednesday 17 October under the Ten Minute Rule Bill procedure. The Government’s long-awaited Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) review has been delayed for many months and indications are that Ministers are unlikely to make PSHE compulsory. Diana Johnson MP’s Bill would make relationships, drug and alcohol education compulsory in all schools, including academies and free schools. Johnson has chosen to focus on relationships, drug and alcohol issues in this Bill because she feels that young people often face difficult choices relating to all three issues. Young adults need to be better informed on whether and how much to drink, risks with the growing range of new drugs and how to establish healthy relationships. These decisions are often made in difficult circumstances and under pressure. The Hull North MP believes that education has a key role to play in equipping young people to make informed decisions and to resist peer pressure. Teaching in this area would draw on successful Life Skills Programmes, helping young people to evaluate complex information, build up self confidence, make wise personal choices and resist risky behaviour. Diana Johnson wants drugs and alcohol education to give practical information such as the growing dangers from ‘legal highs’, the alcoholic content of different drinks and the health implications of drinking from an early age, alongside what a person should expect from healthy relationships. The Bill’s objective is for relationships education to complement compulsory sex education, where the existing focus is solely on the basic biological facts, reproduction and the spread of infections and viruses. There is currently no requirement to teach about healthy relationships, or about building self esteem and body confidence.  The Labour MP wants schools to help young people to avoid and resist being pressurised into situations with which they feel uncomfortable, and to be aware of unacceptable behaviour such as sexual exploitation and domestic violence. The Bill has cross-party backing in the House of Commons but is likely to run out of time and therefore not be taken further.

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