A letter from Hayley Sherwood, creator of 1decision, has been published in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) today – 15thDecember 2017. This is not online, but the full copy of our original submission can be read below.
The PSHE Association’s research on how PSHE education boosts pupils’ grades will be no surprise to anyone working in schools. However, it is education policy-makers who lack understanding of its value.
In my experience of supporting over 150 primary schools in PSHE teaching, every child who receives age-appropriate PSHE lessons will emerge as a better learner. In fact, every study published on this issue says the same thing.
We have skirted around this issue for far too long – statutory PSHE in a no-brainer, but my fear is that it will not happen unless we can find a way for it to be assessed to a certain standard in the same way as existing compulsory subjects such as English, Maths and Science.
Yet PSHE is not easily measurable – it is about the individual. The impact on one child is different to another. How can you compare progress for a child who displays violent behaviour to one that has no confidence? We need to assess pupils individually. One child’s progress may be considerably different in comparison to another. A key message is that we need to be more flexible on our expectations around assessment.
We also need to accept there will be a time lag on impact. We need to reach children early to provide them with an understanding of what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour. Children also need to gain the knowledge, understanding and skills to cope when they are faced with a negative issue or dilemma. For the current generation, this will help them as future adults, and in turn their children, and with a sustained effort we can improve society long-term.
However, time is needed in the curriculum for PSHE in the same way that time is given for other statutory subjects. At the moment, it is not compulsory, and in my experience many schools are simply struggling to find time to ‘fit it in’. A cross-curricular approach would help.
There is something happening every week that highlights the importance of PSHE. Only this week the National Crime Agency warned how live streaming is increasingly being used to groom, blackmail and abuse victims. It’s important that teachers, parents and children themselves are aware of the potential dangers they face and we all need to be talking to our children about healthy relationships and staying safe online and that they have effective and outcome driven resources available.
Policy-makers need to support the whole child so we can create an employable generation in the future. PSHE needs a strong presence in every school and if the subject area was compulsory funding would be available to provide the material to raise the standards within this subject. Prevention not cure.
Hayley Sherwood, founder of 1decision, part of Headway learning resources
15 December 2017