Next week is Anti Bullying Week and Odd Socks Day (easier for some of us than others) and the theme for 2023 is ‘Make a Noise About Bullying’. As part of the statutory RSHE requirement, all schools now teach pupils about different types of bullying including the responsibilities of bystanders, and how and where to get help. The Anti Bullying Alliance report that 30% of young people still experienced a form of bullying in the last year, with one child in every class experiencing bullying every day.
Bullying is one of nine themes outlined by the PSHE association in their resource rich website. In a packed timetable, only a very carefully planned PSHE curriculum will allow sufficient time for pupils to really speak up in a meaningful way. In 2020, the Everyone’s Invited website was a wake-up call to the profession on how important it is that pupils have safe routes with which they can talk about relationships and report concerns. I don’t think there would be anyone working with young people that doesn’t see the importance of this. However, the challenge for school staff is how to make PSHE curriculum delivery meaningful with so many competing pressures. Much of this comes down to the weighting that school leaders give in both timetabling but also teacher training and curriculum development. It is evident that not all teachers are in their comfort zone when teaching PSHE, whether in tutor groups or as a primary class teacher. It is only through giving them the pedagogical tools and resources to teach well that young people will receive anything like a curriculum that speaks to them.
I have lost count of the times I have heard requests for additions to the curriculum to pick up on wider social issues. Whilst schools have a responsibility to ensure young people have the cultural awareness to succeed and have a sense of belonging, they do not exist in a vacuum. Schools can’t be everything to everyone, nor are they a shortcut to fix deep rooted societal woes. However, we can have confidence that schools have a strong part to play as they are rooted at the heart of their communities. By investing in a quality PSE offer, we can seek to create a more tolerant and kinder society. I hope you will take the opportunity of anti-bullying week to highlight this most important aspect of pupil well-being and reflect on the offer you have for young people.
Thank you as always for everything you continue do.
Chief Executive Officer, Camden Learning