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PSHE primes pupils for trials of life

It was hugely disappointing to see that the controversy surrounding sex education has overshadowed the Government's move to make PSHE education compulsory by 2011.

Sex and relationship education forms only a tiny part of the PSHE programme, which covers a full spectrum of life skills crucial to young people's well-being.

We should ensure that schools have the resources and curriculum activities available to support this vital subject when it becomes compulsory. Any change to the education system can place pressure on teachers. PSHE is a unique subject and some teachers may feel unprepared to deal with its demands. We expect they will be looking for solutions of how best to manage this subject within the curriculum without adding to their already heavy workload.

At ASDAN we have been offering our PSHE qualification - Personal and Social Development (PSD) - in schools for over a year. Already more than 1,000 schools are using the programme as it was developed specifically to meet the national curriculum requirements and enable young people to receive a GCSE equivalent qualification.

PSD students complete challenges such as analysing each other's eating habits, creating a personal hygiene programme, discussing parenting skills, devising a monthly budget and taking part in mock interviews. The course is designed to be fun, relaxed and interactive, and allows students to take responsibility for their own learning, while building self- confidence.

Where sex education is covered in the PSD course, we have seen young people display a level of maturity and temperance.

We mustn't allow this "one-track mind" debate about sex education to detract from the overall benefits of PSHE.

Maggie Walker, Director of curriculum and deputy CEO, ASDAN.

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