The Department of Education is currently undertaking a review of PSHE in parallel with the review of the national curriculum.
The Department has already said that PSHE will not be given statutory status as a curriculum subject. However, the Department is considering what content could and should be included in a PSHE guidance document on what all schools ought to be teaching.
It is, as ever, important to note, in our view, that the real issue is with what children have a need to learn rather than with what should be taught. This is more than a semantic distinction, in that PSHE learning cannot, on the whole, be taught didactically or merely through use of a text book.
In the Guardian this week there is yet another article about teaching and learning in Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). Children and young people are categorically stating that they do not have sufficient access to quality sex and relationships education. They say that they are receiving negligible information through the compulsory aspect of their science lessons and very little, if any, in the way of relationships education.
We believe it’s time we listened more attentively to what young people say that they want and need.
The Brook organisation has recently carried out a survey and interviews with young people about this very subject. The results make it explicit that young people are unhappy about what they are currently being offered, and Brook provide some details of what they would like.
Our young people want to talk about the significant issues in their lives. They want to learn how to develop and maintain better relationships, with family and with friends. They want to be supported in how to respond to unwanted sexual pressure. They want to learn how to be empathetic and to recognise their own needs.
Our young people are bombarded with images, information and data regarding sex and relationships, most of which is completely contradictory. With media at their fingertips, with an unrestricted internet, they can get plenty of factual information about sex and a whole lot more besides.
They want opportunities to talk, to develop skills, to understand their own feelings and needs, and to understand the attitude of others.
Currently, in too many cases, these opportunities are not being provided for them.
The same issues apply to drug education. A recent MentorUK survey identifies the fact that most pupils only have one lesson per year on drug education. Within that short hour or so, they supposedly have to cover illegal drugs, smoking, the effects of alcohol, the skills required to avoid drugs, the ability to know if someone close to them is under the influence of drugs, the importance of drugs within medicine, and so forth. This is hardly a subject that can be covered in such a small space of time.
Please see the link below to read the Briefing Paper with statistics about the extent of drug use for young people.
PSHE is a vital part of the curriculum. The government is committed to ensuring that schools are “promoting the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development”. How can this be done without having a commitment to dedicated PSHE curriculum time?
The deadline for the PSHE review is the end of this month; Wednesday 30th November 2011.
If you think that children and young people should be entitled to quality teaching and learning in the development of their personal wellbeing then please respond to the link below.
3Di Associates are responding and will post their response on this blog next week.