Did you know that a child in the United Kingdom spends 16.2% of the year in school? That means a staggering 83.8% away from the education a school seeks to offer.
In our school curriculum, in the Senior years, we offer courses in History, Geography, Modern Studies, Mathematics, Business Management, Administration, Accountancy, Social (health and wellbeing) Education, PE, Sport including Swimming, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Practical Electronics, French, German, Spanish, English, Media Studies, Classical Studies, Art and Design, Dance, Drama, Music, Religious and Moral Education all backed up with provision for Additional Support Needs. On top of subject provision, we offer a huge array of after school clubs and activities and all completed in 16.2% of our young people’s lives.
And then we are pressured into ‘educating’ our young in other areas; sometimes by Governments, sometimes by the media and sometimes by parents.
Recently, we have been expected to teach children about:
• the dangers of social media
• the appropriate use of mobile technology
• how to ensure good mental health and dealing with issues of mental health problems
• the prevalence and destructive nature of self-harm, depression and stress
• the availability of counselling services
• the development of good manners and respect
• their diet and nutrition and the importance of getting this right
• our duty to ‘prevent’ young people being drawn into acts of terrorism
• our duty to ensure all children are protected from harm
• our duty to incorporate – wait for it – anti abduction training
• ‘sleep hygiene’ (!)
• a plethora of health and safety education
• cyber security and staying safe online
• LGBTI rights
And let’s not forget the biggest one of them all – resilience. The current generation are often referred to as the ‘snowflake’ generation, known in the media as ‘Millennials’. Too many parents in our recent history get sucked into solving all of their children’s problems for them rather than letting them find their own way. And whilst I am just as guilty in this respect as the next person we need to see this as failing our children in the one area they need the most training – dealing with adversity. Too many of our young are resultantly unable to accept responsibility for their actions as there is always someone else there to sort problems out for them. But the reality is that adversity is often just around the corner and particularly so in the workplace.
So who is ultimately responsible for delivering those messages which might originally have been considered ‘beyond the curriculum’?
The answer, of course, is all of us. But, let’s not forget, schools make do with 16.2% of a young person’s year. And there is a very real problem when we expect schools (often solely) to be responsible for teaching more and more and more….
14 November 2018