Life skills and life chances: PSHE Association responds to social mobility committee report

Today’s report from the House of Lords Social Mobility Committee argues that key “life skills” such as communication, team working, resilience and self-management should be embedded in the school curriculum, arguing that “preparation for the workplace needs to begin as early as possible” in schools.

The report highlights the important role of life skills education, as part of a broader package of measures including improved work experience and careers advice in supporting young people’s life chances as they leave school.

Responding to these findings, PSHE Association Chief Executive, Joe Hayman said:

“Today’s report challenges us to consider how we can build an education system which maximises the life chances of all pupils and in particular the most disadvantaged.

We agree that education which builds key life skills alongside the knowledge and attributes young people need to thrive both personally and professionally needs to be much more firmly embedded in the curriculum. An effective PSHE education programme will support all pupils to build these skills and attributes year on year. It is notable that there is an expectation of a high-quality PSHE programme of this nature in independent school standards; a similar expectation for state schools could help boost the life chances of the most disadvantaged and encourage social mobility.

As the report notes, high-quality work experience programmes – as well as opportunities such as the National Citizen Service – are also critically important to ensuring state school pupils get similar opportunities to their more advantaged peers. PSHE education can help lay the groundwork in the classroom so that pupils feel prepared for, and can make the most of, these real-world experiences.

Finally, it is worth reiterating that academic success is crucial to social mobility and future life chances. Too many pupils leave school without sufficiently good grades in subjects like English and maths, putting them at a huge disadvantage. Evidence shows that building pupils’ resilience and self-management skills is highly-effective in boosting attainment as well as preparing young people for life. This drive to support pupils personally, professionally and academically and to prepare pupils for real world experiences lies at the heart of the ‘curriculum for life’ that PSHE education provides.”  

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