Caroline Lucas: Rotherham scandal is another reason why we need statutory PSHE now

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Green MP Caroline Lucas says the full horror of the Rotherham abuse scandal indicates the vital need for statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education.

A report published earlier this week showed more than 1,400 children were abused in Rotherham from 1997 to 2003, mainly by gangs of Pakistani heritage.

The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, is refusing to resign from his post, despite mounting criticism from across the political divide.

Mr Wright was previously the cabinet member responsible for children services on Rotherham Council, during the period when the cases occurred.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said the scandal illustrated the need for statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education.

“As anxious as we are to protect our children and young people from all harm, that’s a huge challenge” she told

“Part of the solution is to give them the best possible opportunity to learn about consent and respect in relationships, and to understand their rights and responsibilities.”

“Lessons which help keep our children safe, healthy and happy shouldn’t be an optional ‘bolt on’ – they are essential, as is provision of proper support for the teachers leading them.”

Ms Lucas has urged Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to introduce PSHE in a Private Members’ Bill.

It will receive its second reading on 24 October.

The MP has welcomed growing cross party support for the reform.

On Tuesday, in a major policy shift, the Liberal Democrats announced they would make PSHE compulsory in all state-funded schools, as part of a manifesto pledge.

The Lib Dems and the Conservatives twice voted against measures for statutory PSHE last year.

The leader of the Conservative Party remains opposed to statutory PSHE.

However, several Tory parliamentarians, including the Conservative peer Lord Fowler, MP Michael Fabricant, and Dr Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Health Select Committee, have expressed their support for the policy in recent days.

Ms Lucas said she hoped the government would allow Conservative and Lib Dem MPs an un-whipped vote on the issue on 24 October.

Labour has already promised to make SRE statutory if it wins the 2015 general election.

Ms Lucas said: “We have now an unprecedented cross-party opportunity to make a crucial difference to the health, safety and wellbeing of our children.”

She added: “It’s great these pledges have now been made. But why wait until the election to act? There’s no reason to delay. If they mean what they say, then they should back my bill, we can have the debate and children can start getting the education they need and deserve.

“We can’t move forward on words alone. We have a solution – we need to grasp it.”