The Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children England Team were tweeting about perceptions of PSHE as covered in their National Report of 2011.
Somehow that’d passed me by at the time, but it’s worth revisiting for what it tells us about the successes of PSHE and the challenges that teachers and schools face.
Starting with the positives, it’s heartening to see that most pupils see their PSHE teacher as being knowledgeable about their subject, and that the huge majority (72%) agree that their PSHE teacher encourages them to think for themselves.
It appears that pupils are more likely to see PSHE developing their skills to help others with their health than in making them much more confident to in taking care of their own health.
The majority of pupils say that PSHE has helped them consider the pros and cons of health behaviours, but there seems to be a struggle to keep the interest of older pupils, particularly girls, and even more worryingly they found that:
Eleven per cent of 15 year old boys and 6% of 15 year old girls say that PSHE lessons have actually made them less interested in related topics than they were before.
The other challenge that I see in the report is in helping parents engage in the debates that are engendered in PSHE. The pupils told the researchers that they are less likely to talk to their parents about the issues raised in PSHE as they grow older.
The report concludes:
The drop in the proportion of students at age 15 who say that PSHE lessons increase their confidence and skills suggests that PSHE lessons may not fully equip them to deal with the health related issues encountered at this age.
Although the finding that girls report more communication about PSHE-related issues with both friends and parents is not surprising, more could perhaps be done to ensure that topics covered in PSHE also address the needs of young men. This may be particularly important as they are less likely than girls to discuss health related topics with others. Finding ways of engaging them in PSHE discussions may be one way to encourage boys to take a greater interest in health related issues.