To Peter Griffiths on your retirement

David was recently privileged to attend a small invitation conference organised by Peter Griffiths, retiring head of PSHE at OFSTED. Peter was at his vigorous, generous best, and we welcome the appointment of Margaret Jones to the post. We look forward to her first visit to us in Exeter.

Peter has been a friend of SHEU for over 20 years and I recognise that he had considerable influence on the way our structure and services evolved, and too upon my personal career. We have also witnessed the effects of his positive and constructive on many other people across the years. Ted Wragg, who also showed continuous interest in our development, held Peter in very high regard. They both were members of our Advisory Group over many years and which has served us so well as a sounding board. It would be nice if Peter should continue as a member.
(If there is anyone reading this text who would like to support us as a member of our Advisory Group, please make contact with SHEU).

Peter will be missed by so many people who we are sure will join with us in wishing him well in a long and happy retirement. We are given to understand some gardening may feature in his next adventures. I may have some advice to offer, at least where rabbits are concerned.
David Regis, our research manager, has been immersed in the work of the Unit over many, many years (21) and his wide ranging knowledge of the ways young people behave and think and feel is enormous, and probably second to no other in England. He joined us when he came to Exeter to study for a PhD. (He loves puzzles and his recreational pursuit is chess).

David has worked closely with Peter and writes as follows:
Recently/currently there are two or three major reports from Peter's office to which we were able to provide relevant support particularly in the provision of background information. These were:
Sex and Relationship Education Report [2002]
Time for change? PSHE review [2007]

For these reports, SHEU were able to supply some contextual information about the changing lifestyles of young people, and what these might mean for PSHE. For some issues, we have records going back to the early 1980s.

Parents are generally less likely to be seen as the main source than previously; the decline has been particularly marked for Year 8 females.
School lessons have seen a contrasting rise in being recognised as the main source of sex information for young people, especially Year 10 females

This is a good news story about how well schools are doing, we feel, although we also have some concern about how parents might be feeling.

The first concern, when data like these were seen, was that the young people were being critical of their parents, but in fact they were much more generous than that - when interviewed the usual response was that in an ideal world parents would be the main source, but they accepted that this was in fact unlikely, due to embarrassment on both sides.
There was also concern about the teachers: how were they feeling? Other studies have shown that most parents and children welcome schools' involvement in sex education, and if the question were "what is your most accurate source of information?" or "what is your main source of information on contraception?" we should expect that the figures for lessons (both IS and SHOULD BE) would be even higher.

In an ideal world both parents and teachers would play a role in sex education and would also work together on it. SHEU have designed an INSET workshop for use in schools to promote this collaboration.



Comments about SHEU

"The Unit has a unique historical and contemporary archive of young people." Prof. Ted Wragg 1938-2005

Prof Ted Wragg, 1938-2005

I just wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoyed your talk at last week's conference.

Chief Executive, substance use charity

Any comments on specific survey questions that may have caused difficulty?
Pupils at our primary school found the questionnaire very easy to understand and most of them completed the questions in less than 45min.


"Thank you very much, David, for another excellent survey.  We look forward to receiving our reports."

Healthy Schools Co-ordinator

"...the only question to cause a problem was 'has everyone got a pen?" Supervisor's notes following a school survey

Supervisor's Notes

"The survey reports have been used to inform commissioning at specific commissioning groups. They are also being used within our Extended Schools Clusters and to inform The Annual Public Health and the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment." Programme Manager - Young People

"The data from the 2018/19 survey is still in heavy use here, the physical activity related findings were pivotal in changing the relevant strategy recently to target less active groups like girls towards the end of secondary school, and I’ve three fairly hefty jobs on the to-do list that will use the data with other sources to identify target schools for mental health and physical activity projects, and another looking at community safety. I call it the gift that keeps giving and that certainly seems to be the case!"

Senior Public Health Specialist (Intelligence)

"You have often stood alone against the media who were often looking for the sensational headline. I have noticed an important change: the media now look out for and report very fairly and fully on the reports from the team." 
Tributes from a Health Education Advisor to John Balding, presented at his retirement lunch, May 2005

Health Education Advisor

...our analyst here in Public Health- is beside himself with excitement about all the juicy data pouring in...he can't wait to get his hands on it!!!!
He is happier than I have seen him for years.

Public Health Principal

"We did this last year with Year 8 and 10 and was incredibly useful. It is WELL worth doing and so useful to inform PSHE planning. The safeguarding audit team were delighted that we had done it. The findings are so so interesting.
"The findings are really comprehensive and range from what percentage of year 8 have breakfast in the morning to how many have tried this particular drug, to identity, health and sleep patterns, mental health, citizenship issues....
"It's essential for the PSHE and pastoral curriculum."

PSHCEE coordinator