Further Education and Schools: Basic Skills

Department for Education written question – answered at on 7 May 2024.

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Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she plans to encourage a greater emphasis on developing essential skills for life in schools and colleges.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

The department wants all children to leave school with the knowledge, skills and values that will prepare them to be citizens in modern Britain. There are many aspects of the curriculum that help young people develop essential life skills, including through the teaching of Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE), citizenship, mathematics and design and technology (D&T).

In primary schools, age-appropriate relationships education involves supporting children to learn how to develop mutually respectful relationships in all contexts, including online. In secondary schools, this broadens to become age-appropriate relationships and sex education. In health education, there is a strong focus on mental wellbeing, including a recognition that mental wellbeing and physical health are linked. The statutory guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.

The department is currently reviewing the RSHE statutory guidance. The review has been informed by an independent expert panel to advise the Secretary of State for Education on the introduction of age limits for sensitive subjects. A draft of the amended guidance will be published for consultation as soon as possible.

The national curriculum for secondary citizenship develops pupils’ awareness and understanding of democracy, government and how laws are made and upheld. Teaching should equip pupils with the skills and knowledge to explore political and social issues critically, to weigh evidence, debate and make reasoned arguments. The citizenship programmes of study are available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-citizenship-programmes-of-study.

Primary maintained schools and all academies are encouraged to cover citizenship as part of their duty to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum following the non-statutory framework for citizenship.

Pupils should be prepared to manage their money well, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information when needed.

Financial knowledge is a compulsory part of the national curriculum for mathematics at key stages 1 to 4 and citizenship at key stages 3 and 4. The mathematics curriculum provides young people with the mathematical knowledge that underpins their ability to make important financial decisions. At primary schools, there is a strong emphasis on enabling pupils to develop fluency, mathematical reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems. At secondary schools and in GCSE mathematics, pupils solve problems in financial contexts. The mathematics programme of study can be found on GOV.UK.

Through primary citizenship curriculum, pupils should be taught to realise that money comes from different sources and can be used for different purposes. They should also be taught how to spend and save money sensibly and that economic choices affect individuals and communities. This is expanded in secondary citizenship where pupils are taught the function and uses of money, how to budget, and manage credit and debt, as well as concepts like insurance, savings and pensions.

Cooking and nutrition is a discrete strand of the national curriculum for D&T. This was introduced as part of the 2014 D&T curriculum and is compulsory for key stages 1 to 3. The curriculum aims to teach children how to cook, with an emphasis on savoury dishes, and how to apply the principles of healthy eating and nutrition. It recognises that cooking is an important life skill that will help children to feed themselves and others healthy and affordable food.

RSHE and citizenship sit alongside extra-curricular programmes to develop a variety of life skills such as resilience, leadership, persistence, and teamwork. Schools are best placed to understand and meet the needs of their pupils and so have flexibility to decide how they deliver the curriculum and what range of extra-curricular activities to offer. The department supports a range of initiatives to expand access to extra-curricular activities through schools, such as working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to offer the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to all state secondary schools in England.

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