An announcement from the Department for Education today (25th February) will be very welcome to some, but does it go far enough (I’ll come back to that toward the end of my post)?
Back to the announcement…
New Government guidelines say that children as young as four will learn about internet safety, taking care of their own mental health, relationships and more at school.
Teachers will help children to understand the importance of getting enough sleep, the dangers of sexting and spotting the signs of anxiety in friends in order to teach them the link between physical and mental health
Three new subjects will form part of the school curriculum in England from 2020, with teachers deciding how frequently to hold age-appropriate lessons.
The subjects are relationships education from primary school, relationships and sex education at secondary school, and health education for all ages.
It will coincide with the first shake-up of sex education for two decades.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
“Growing up and adolescence are hard enough, but the internet and social media add new pressures that just weren’t there even one generation ago.
“So many things about the way people interact have changed, and this new world, seamless between online and offline, can be difficult to navigate.
“Almost 20 years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on.”
Mr Hinds said it was “appropriate” to make health education universal alongside relationships and sex education.
“It will help children learn how to look after themselves, physically and mentally, and the importance of getting away from the screen and the headphones,” he said.
“And it can help young people be resilient as they chart a course through an ever more complex world.”
Under the plans, children as young as four will be taught self-care – such as getting enough sleep and spending time outdoors.
They will also receive lessons in online safety, such as what to do when they come across something they find uncomfortable, trolling, and chatting to strangers.
MPs will on Monday debate a petition calling for parents to have the right to opt their child out of relationship and sex education.
My (humble) opinion…
I think this is a step in the right direction, a wonderful welcome to the current school curriculum. But, I do feel the current curriculum and the pressure put on our children in schools is a big part of the problem. We need to look at the root cause of the problem – not just put a sticking plaster over the top.
How about looking toward our European countries where children don’t start formal learning until the age of seven? Children growing up in the UK are said to be some of the unhappiest in the industrialised world.
The UK now has the highest rates of self harm in Europe. And the NSPCC’s ChildLine Annual Review lists it as one of the top reasons why children contact the charity. We’re doing something wrong, that’s for sure.