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The Department for Education (DfE) has made it clear that PSHE is an ‘important and necessary’ part of children’s education – indeed it was to become a mandatory element of the curriculum in September 2020. However, due to the pandemic a phased approach has been allowed which must be completed by summer 2021.
The DfE says it expects schools to use their PSHE education programme to equip pupils with a sound understanding of risk and with the knowledge and skills necessary to make safe and informed decisions.
The coronavirus pandemic means there are likely to be many more emotionally distressed pupils than usual. There might be children struggling with bereavement following the death of a family member from Covid-19, because their mothers and fathers have either lost their jobs or are at risk of losing them and because they have not seen their friends for some time. They might also have witnessed behaviour in their homes that has caused them to be upset and stressed.
It’s important that, when pupils are able to return, schools do not purely focus on the academic side of education, but also give sufficient emphasis to pupils’ emotional and mental wellbeing and help to build up their resilience.
PSHE must be given the weight and importance it deserves, moving beyond one-off assemblies on key topics to high-quality sessions delivered by experts to make a real and lasting impact on pupils’ wellbeing.