- UK schools: Compulsory sex education
- What’s the cost of not funding public education? Panelists weigh in
Pupils as young as four are to be given lessons in well-being and healthy living, according to Department for Education (DfE) proposals.
Health education will be a mandatory part of the curriculum for all primary and secondary schools in England from autumn 2020.
Classes will also cover physical health, such as the importance of exercise, and healthy eating and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle as well as preventing health problems.
The proposals are being published alongside draft guidance on relationships and sex education.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said that good physical and mental health is “at the heart of ensuring young people are ready for the adult world”.
“By making health education compulsory we are giving young people the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school.”
Under legislation passed last year, relationships education is now compulsory in all primary schools, while sex and relationships education is compulsory in secondaries.
As part of the move, guidance on the subject is being updated, amid concerns that the current advice is out of date and fails to address modern day issues such as cyber-bullying, sexting and online safety.
Primary school pupils will also learn about the perils of social media, according to the proposals.
All age four to eleven-year-olds should be taught a set of rules and principles to protect themselves online, the draft guidance will say, as well as how to spot risks and harmful content.
Pupils at primary school should also be taught why computer games, online gaming and social media sites have age restrictions, it will add.
Last year, the Government tabled an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill as early as today that will make “age appropriate” sex and relationship education (SRE) part of the English national curriculum in primary and secondary schools.
Ministers have faced mounting pressure from across the political spectrum to bring about the change, following concerns children are being left ill-equipped to cope with the new realities of online porn, cyber bullying and sexting.
It will become a statutory requirement for all school children to be given sex and relationship education classes from September 2020.
Currently only pupils attending local-authority run secondary schools, which represent around a third of secondary schools, are offered sex and relationships education.
The White House wants to merge the Departments of Education and Labor as part of a broader plan to reorganize the federal government
What’s the purpose of an education? To get a job? To expand the mind? This is a question that’s dogged philosophers, politicians and educators for years. This week, we got another glimpse into the Trump administration’s answer to that question.
The White House released a proposal Thursday to merge the Departments of Education and Labor as part of a broader plan to reorganize the federal government. Though the overarching motivation for the plan comes out of a desire to shrink the federal government, the proposed merger is also the latest indication that the Trump administration is interested in tying our education system more closely to work.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised the plan, which faces an uphill battle to becoming reality as it requires approval from Congress. “Artificial barriers between education and workforce programs have existed for far too long,” she said in a statement. “We must reform our 20th century federal agencies to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
That sentiment builds on statements she and other Trump administration officials, including the president himself, have made previously about their desire to create more room for vocational training. Last year, DeVos derided the focuson a four-year bachelor’s degree as the only pathway to a successful life.
President Trump waxed nostalgic on vocational schools at a White House forum in March. Last year, his administration announced a plan to expand apprenticeship programs — the so-called work and earn initiatives that allow employees in certain fields to get on-the-job training that often have bipartisan support.
That approach makes sense politically, given that the Republican Party’s supporters have grown increasingly skeptical of the value of a college education. It also places his administration squarely on one side of the debate over whether an education is supposed to be focused on more than simply preparing students for a job.
As the economy fluctuates, so to do students’ and parents’ views on how closely tied their chosen subjects should be to their career, said Robert Townsend, the director of the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. During times of economic downturn, majors that don’t clearly prepare students for careers, like liberal arts, tend to fall out of fashion.
But as the economy has recovered students and employers have started to question the value of a degree that’s only focused on hard skills at the expense of teaching things like how to think critically and communicate successfully. “Often simple vocational training tends to be very narrow and specific in a way that employers don’t completely want,” Townsend said.
Still, the reality is that these days your ability to get a job is tied more than ever to the type and level of education you receive, said Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce, so connecting the policy behind the two more formally makes sense.
The Trump administration proposal isn’t the first time policymakers have floated the idea of combining the functions performed by the Education and Labor departments. But the policy has more efficacy today than it has in the past, given the strong connection between education and work in today’s economy, Carnevale said. His center found that there are roughly 800 distinct occupations, most of which are tied to specific types of preparation taught in various types of schools.
“Now the mission in the Department of Education is high school completion and then in higher education policy it’s completing college,” he said. “It begs the question — completion for what.”
And indeed, these days the vast majority of K-12 education is academic or focused on the so-called Harvard to high school pipeline. In Carnevale’s ideal world, combining these two agencies would result in students being introduced to a variety of careers — including those that don’t require college — in high school, through internships or certificate programs. At the same time, students would get ample preparation for pursuing a bachelor’s degree as that’s still “the gold standard” when it comes to having financial security in today’s economy, he said.
Carnevale says he supports the idea of a more streamlined education and workforce policy in theory, but he’s suspicious of the Trump administration’s motives for proposing it. He also said he worries that, if not implemented properly, a policy that introduces more vocational education into high schools could result in a situation where poor and minority students are tracked into a vocational career, while others are pushed towards college.
“We don’t want to go back to a world in which a kid hits high school and suddenly the teacher decides they’re going to be a plumber,” Carnevale said. “That’s not American.”
Policymakers could also do more to better understand the ways in which higher education and student-loan policy affect employer behavior, wages and graduates’ career choices, said Julie Margetta Morgan, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank.
“In many ways, what the Department of Education does through the student-aid program is the biggest investment that the federal government is making in our workforce right now and yet we don’t think of it in that way,” she said. Instead, policymakers typically think of the main goal of the government’s student loan program is to increase access and success in college.
But combining these two departments whose missions and tasks don’t always overlap is the wrong way to go about more closely tying policies that come out of the Department of Education to workforce outcomes, Margetta Morgan said. She noted that the Trump administration has already slashed the staff of the Department of Education, putting the agency at risk of not carrying out certain vital functions, like investigating schools for civil rights and other violations.
“This is a plan that’s about reducing the size of the government fundamentally,” Margetta Morgan said of the Trump administration’s proposal. “It’s not about what’s best for families and for our workforce.”
Five speakers, ranging from a former high-school dropout and prison inmate to a retired state Supreme Court justice, offered insight at a Seattle Times’ LiveWire event Wednesday.
In a sometimes fervid discussion Wednesday, a Tacoma teacher, a youth advocate and a retired state Supreme Court justice laid bare the costs to society — and to students — when adequate funding for public education isn’t there.
Hundreds gathered at the University of Washington’s Kane Hall for the talk, a Seattle Times’ LiveWire event, that explored how investing in K-12 schools is linked to a mix of social issues, such as youth incarceration and unemployment rates.
In the talk titled “Set up to fail: The cost of not funding K-12 education,” Tacoma’s Lincoln High School teacher Nathan Gibbs-Bowling spotlighted the region’s economic disparities in terms of students’ access to a quality education, remarks to which the audience gave warm applause.
“You cannot sit and focus on the minutia of government and calculus when your stomach is churning,” he said, and some students are forced to choose between work and school.
Gibbs-Bowling, 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year, previously taught in a high-income school, where he said the needs of those students contrast sharply with the ones of his students now.
In remarks before the panel, Omari Amili, a former dropout who went to prison for bank-fraud convictions, emphasized how a college education helped him. Amili now has a master’s degree from the University of Washington-Tacoma and works with other former inmates who want to transition to college.
Angel Gardner, Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate, shared her personal story, too. Born in the city’s Central District, Gardner was removed from her parents’ home as a child and grew up in foster care before aging out of the system at 18.She then spent two years without a permanent place to live, a period during which judges chose her for the youth poet-laureate title. Throughout the discussion, the panelists offered specific solutions to boosting students’ success, such as schools offering occupational training and extended school days.
They also emphasized the importance of how having stable housing and a strong family life can influence achievement and behavior.
More than half of the young people who commit crimes are dropouts, according to Columbia University researchers who looked at the economic impacts of the students. Dropouts are also more likely to be on welfare.
Bridge, who was a judge and state Supreme Court justice for nearly 20 years before stepping down in 2007, emphasized the collaboration of schools and other programs to make sure students’ basic needs get met.
“If they’re not engaged in the community,” she said of schools, “we’re going to be facing even worse situations from the standpoint of public safety, unemployment and disruption in communities than we have right now.”
Seattle Times education reporter Claudia Rowe moderated Wednesday’s forum, which was part of The Seattle Times’ LiveWire series that aims to bring together experts to discuss vital issues affecting the region.
Rowe is part of the newspaper’s Education Lab, a project that spotlights approaches to issues in public education.
Information in this article, originally published March 22, 2017 was corrected March 23, 2017. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated where Lincoln High School teacher Nathan Gibbs-Bowling previously worked. He said he worked in a high-income school in a neighborhood like Ballard in Seattle.
As we ring in the New Year, it’s key to look ahead and think about the ways in which learning will change in 2019, and how those changes will affect the workplace. In 2018 we discussed the increasing value of soft skills; how the skills transformation is affecting the way we work; and the rise of the non-linear career path. These topics merely scratched the surface of the changes we’re seeing in education and in the workplace, which we’ll continue to debate in 2019.
These are some key trends to keep an eye on this year:
- Education emphasizing hybrid skills. The jobs of the future will require a hybrid set of skills from a variety of subject areas that will change several times over during our careers. This means that studying one subject at college for four years may not make sense for all – as such, higher education degrees must also adapt by creating flexible and customizable credential offerings. There will be growth in modular learning and education, due to its ability to allow students to personalize the skills and knowledge learned to suit their needs and career goals.
- Education goes omnichannel. In today’s connected world, consumers expect to have anything they want available at their fingertips, and education is no different. Workers expect to be able to learn on-demand, getting the skills and knowledge they need in that moment, to be able to apply it as soon as possible. Moving fluidly between working and learning, without having to take time off to go to – or back to – school will become non-negotiable. In addition, learners will demand omnichannel experiences that allow them to combine in-person with online learning experiences. Online learning programs will be designed with this fluidity in mind, allowing learners to immediately put their knowledge to work on the job, while working towards a credential or degree.
- Education underscoring soft skills remains critical. The shelf life of hard skills will become shorter as technology advances more rapidly, and inputs become more automated. Soft skills, or power skills, including collaboration; communication; critical thinking; and the ability to make quick decisions from a set of information will remain essential for all employees and will also be increasingly sought out by hiring managers.