This year, sex and relationships education (SRE) has been made mandatory for all children over the age of four in all schools in England, whereas previously, this was only an obligation for council-run schools.
This is one example of the changing world we live in, influencing timetabling decisions and identifying gaps in the core curriculum which may not necessarily be equipped to arm schoolchildren with some of the ‘life lessons’, that can be lacking amongst traditional academia. SRE fits neatly in to the every growing umbrella of Personal, Social, Health and Education (PSHE) which has formed part of the National Curriculum since 2000. However, as all elements are not compulsory, the contents can be hazy and the responsibility lies with the school to decide the content of this wide ranging subject. From personal safety and first aid to money management, PSHE is the epitome of the subject that would like to be all things to all pupils and where the ‘E’ could almost stand for ‘everything else’.
Thankfully, the vast majority of schools are happy to take their share in the responsibility; this is in spite of class sizes fit to burst and tightly squeezed budgets, the intentions are well meaning and present, even if the resources aren’t. However, with little guidance on the make-up of PSHE lessons, save for the compulsory SRE, children across the country are getting different brands of a subject which is becoming more crucial with each passing year. It’s understandable that the status quo is to prioritise those subjects that come under the examination system however, this approach isn’t quite cutting it in a developing world where something like a photo sharing app could become far more sinister, if not properly understood.
Zoe Pasquet, a PSHE teacher from Harmonize Academy who teaches our Level 1 Award in Sexual Health Awareness*, understands the new and unprecedented changes faced by children today. Zoe commented: “Young people are becoming sexually active at a younger age and it is important that they have the knowledge to keep themselves safe from harm. With social media and online dating apps, students are more vulnerable than ever when it comes to exploitation and it is therefore essential from a safeguarding perspective to inform them of what to look out for and what to do should they find themselves in these situations. The sessions allow students to develop confidence in talking about sexual health issues and give them the opportunity to ask questions in a safe environment with a trusted adult.”
Mary Davis, Deputy Head Teacher at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, has been delivering our Level 1 Award in Alcohol Awareness* and has seen a positive impact on the pupils: “The pupils have a greater awareness in particular about the legalities of certain situations. Some have modified their alcohol and tobacco intake and some have encouraged others to do the same. This highlights the peer to peer teaching opportunity when subject content resonates personally.”
NCFE has been working with schools on their PSHE delivery and our short qualifications have been developed to be wide reaching, flexible and thorough. The Guided Learning Hours (GLH) are often short, slipping easily in to the timetables of pupils. We understand it isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ and from county to county, right down to pupil to pupil, the needs can be marginally different. The vast majority of these qualifications are portfolio-based, giving schools flexibility around their timetable and the ability to create a bespoke programme of learning.
Changing employment conditions has also made it increasingly difficult for pupils to leave schools without transferable skills that may not have been gained during their core academic studies. A study by YouGov, in research on behalf of the PSHE Association, stated that fewer than one in three (32%) business leaders think that schools are doing enough to equip pupils with skills for the world of work such as self-management, communication and teamwork, even though 98% believe these are important skills which school leavers need as they enter the workplace.
NCFE also offers a range of short employability qualifications, such as CV writing and Employability Skills, to meet the demands placed on young people to be adaptable and resilient when they leave school.
It’s a tall order, but not one which teachers are shying away from. The vast majority are in agreement with Mary Davis, Deputy Head Teacher at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School who believes that it is very important that we include these subjects in school: “If the pupils are not in good health physically or mentally and do not understand how to keep healthy and what are the dangers of substance misuse for example, they will not be able to give the right amount of time and effort to their other subjects.”
At NCFE, we continue to refine and develop our PSHE offer so we can work in partnership with schools to create a rounded and enriched timetable, which isn’t one size fits all.
A small selection of our qualifications suitable for PSHE delivery can be found in this table:
*Please note, our suite of Health and Social Care qualifications are being repositioned to the CACHE portfolio from 1 September 2017.
To find out more about our short qualifications, speak to a member of the team on 0191 240 8833 or email [email protected].