Why Michael Gove is WRONG about SRE/PSHE

I read this yesterday and was apopleptic that yet again this government are possibly heading on a course that will again do a massive disservice to our children and young people.  Not only are children and young people disproportionately affected by the cuts but they seem to lack basic understanding about what children and young people actually need.  (Not suprising when the secretary of state for education has never actually been a teacher or worked in a school or with young people. Sigh.)

Michael Gove seems to be labouring under a massive misapprehension that distracting kids with academia will distract them from thinking about relationships and/or sex or risky behaviour! UM what planet is this man on!? ! Was he never a teenager himself? (Don’t answer that- I suspect the answer might be rude ;))

In my experience of working with children and young people, they are far from the underage sex/obsessed drink fuelled hoodies the media would have us believe.  They are wonderful, sensitive, passionate, articulate soon to be adults.  They are desperate to succeed in life – but for them success comes in more ways than academic success- success for them is often being popular, having a boyfriend/girlfriend, having lots of friends etc. Being a teenager is a HARD path to navigate, with lots of pressures and temptations to negotiate, most of the time these pressures and temptations occupy alot of the teenagers mind (this is different to saying kids are obsessed with sex- I don’t think they are!).  Ask any pastoral leader in a school in this country about what the most of the problems they deal with are and it will be bullying, behaviour, friendship or relationship issues, often the academic stuff comes second to all of that.

That’s the most frustrating thing about all of this- a student who is being bullied, or who has broken up with a partner, or who needs to get the morning after pill somewhow is next to useless in a lesson on any subject.  Until that problem is sorted THEY CANNOT AND WILL NOT LEARN EFFECTIVELY.   What they need is more not less PSHE and SRE to help them to navigate life- to help them to deal with stress, to help them know where to get help if they are being bullied, to help them know where to get the morning after pill, to help them to be more assertive and confident and so on and so on.  It is no coincidence that schools where PSHE/SRE is central to the schools ethos tend to have higher academic achievement.  Because  the students in those schools are supported so effectively they are able to learn and thus academically achieve.

That isn’t rocket science- that’s very basic understanding of human nature and learning, what a shame our Education Secretary seems to lack understanding of both.


P.S But to cheer me up I am very heartened to read this about one incredible young person, fighting to stop 71% youth service cuts. Amazing- and you know what? I bet it was his PSHE/Citizenship lessons that gave him the information and confidence to start this.


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