Why Should We Teach PSHE in Schools?
Oh PSHE, never has a subject had so many acronyms in so many years. From PSE to PSHCE and everything in between, it’s a subject that has never quite reached the lofty heights of English and Maths in its position within the primary curriculum, no matter how hard it’s tried.
Often shoe-horned into a Friday afternoon or even missed altogether, it’s a subject that not all teachers feel confident to deliver. So why should we teach PSHE? Why does it matter? In the words of Monty Python, what has PSHE ever done for us?
The Importance of PSHE
First introduced in 2002, PSHE has been on the educational map for a long time now. But only recently has its status been pushed to the fore. In June 2019, the government published its final statutory guidance for the health and relationships aspects of PSHE, to be compulsory in schools from September 2020.
More importantly, schools have begun to recognise its importance in helping to support the wellbeing and emotional development of pupils across the key stages. Not only that, when taught consistently and thoroughly, it can give the children the skills and confidence they need to manage their lives successfully in the future.
Even parents understand the importance of a well-structured PSHE curriculum. In 2015, a YouGov poll on behalf of the PSHE Association, found that 90% of parents believed that PSHE should be taught in schools, with over half ‘strongly agreeing’ that it should be in the curriculum.
Why Should We Teach PSHE?
A great PSHE curriculum should enhance the personal, social, emotional and economic wellbeing and happiness of everyone, as well as supporting children's mental health. Increasing happiness in children can help break the deeply ingrained, limiting beliefs and self-perceptions that stifle aspiration and hamper the ability to achieve.
In order to become successful learners, pupils should develop lifelong strategies, which will positively affect their happiness levels and give them the skills they can then apply to all aspects of their lives. Contrary to belief, these are not skills that we’re born with. They are skills that need to be taught, modelled and developed as children grow and that’s where well-planned PSHE lessons come into play.
Here at Laughology, we understand the importance of PSHE, not just for the children, but for the whole school community. Indeed, our own PSHE Happy-Centred School programme ensures that children, staff and parents benefit from the themes we cover within it, including:
- Coping Skills (resilience and mental health)
- Achievement and Success (how we learn and develop)
- Confidence (speaking up and out, taking on challenges etc)
- Positive Relationships (friendships, home relationships, being safe both online and offline), encouraging pupils to consider how to build positive relationships, as well as building empathy and dealing with conflict.
- Support (citizenship, helping others)
By understanding these themes, children are able to build a bank of strategies that they can then use when they need to. Developing the ability to apply these strategies stands them in good stead for any challenges they may face as they mature into teenagers and, eventually, into the well-rounded, emotionally attentive adults of the future.
No other subject in today’s curriculum enables such a focus on developing the whole child, so it’s no wonder that the PSHE association is keen for the subject to be compulsory in all schools. Until it is, it continues to be important for teachers, PSHE leaders and happiness champions to ensure that children have access to a rich, varied PSHE scheme that provides them with the knowledge and skills that they need.
Future Proofing for strong, positive relationships
Teachers and parents have the difficult task of preparing children for a future that is uncertain. Today’s young people will have jobs that haven’t even been invented yet, use technology that will make today’s Amazon Echo look like a mobile phone from the 80’s and live in a world where no one will remember what life was like before the internet.
One thing that won’t change, however, is the need to be resilient, confident, supportive human beings with an emotional intelligence that rivals the academic. Building strong, positive relationships with other people will always be important too. It’s these skills that will enable young people to pursue their ambitions and live their lives to the fullest, ultimately becoming as happy as they can be.
Yes, exams matter and jobs matter, of course they do. But as we get older, we realise that being happy trumps all of that. Happiness is the key to everything else. When you’re happy you can revise for those pesky GSCEs with confidence. When you’re happy, you can excel in your chosen career and build friendships and relationships with people who matter. When you’re happy, you’re more likely to achieve and succeed, learning from your mistakes along the way.
That’s why we should teach PSHE. That’s why it matters.
And so, as it turns out, much like the Romans, PSHE can do an awful lot for us.