John Picket is a recently retired Primary School Head. Having been headteacher of five schools in the Essex area, he has had much experience of Coram Life Education's work and impact on the pupils he has worked with. He contacted Coram Life Education to give us a passionate endorsement of the need for Coram Life Education and organisations like it. Here's what he said:
Why do children need organisations like Coram Life Education?
Evidence shows that our young people are demonstrating levels of stress never seen before. They face a world of political and economic insecurity and rapid technological and societal change. Much of the advice they receive was generated in times and places that seem very different from the culture in which they are living. The answers they get often lead to more confusion.
Children in the UK are the most tested and under the most academic pressure in Europe. In 2015 identified that Children in England are among the unhappiest in the world, ranking England 14th out of 15 countries for life satisfaction among its young people. A third said that they were bullied or left out and only two-fifths of 12 year olds admitted to enjoying school. English girls ranked second lowest for happiness with their body confidence, self-confidence and appearance.
What can be done to help children?
Children cannot solve this crisis by themselves. They need support. And they need the right support, from the right people at the right time. Prevention is better than cure, and children need consistent support from an early age so that they can build the understanding and coping strategies they will need in order to meet the challenges they will face.
The role of education must be to provide the next generation with opportunities to learn the skills and understanding they need to become positive, productive and proud adults. These include both academic and life skills. If academic literacy is what you do, emotional literacy may be described as the way that you do it.
The more a child understands about the world in which they live, the better choices they can make both in the present and for the future. Children receive all sorts of information about all sorts of things from all sorts of people whether at home, at school or in their daily lives. They need an opportunity to sift these truths, part truths, mis-truths etc. and match them with their own experiences and circumstances in order to create an understanding for themselves.
What does Coram Life Education provide children?
Coram Life Education provides children with an opportunity and support to reflect on what they know (or think they know), to challenge misconceptions and to help children to create their own understanding so that they can avoid the risky behaviours frequently generated by ignorance.
In an overburdened curriculum, with all of the pressures of targets, testing and coverage, the visit of Coram Life Education can provide high-quality time for active reflection. Often delivered as part of a themed PHSE Week, the Life Education sessions can act as a starting point for whole class exploration.
Away from the stresses of the classroom, school or home, Coram Life Education provides a space where children can be encouraged to stop and given space to think and verbalise their worries and fears. Sessions are fun, engaging and memorable and trained Educators use evidence-based, interactive, creative methods and resources to stimulate children’s curiosity, imagination and response. Children meet Harold the Giraffe puppet (‘Healthy Harold’), and friends, have discussions and watch short films that address their knowledge, skills and attitudes about issues relevant to their age and stage of development. These might include healthy eating, legal and illegal drugs and their effects, the body and how it works, friendships and their influence, and how choices and behaviours can affect their health and education outcomes.
What does Coram Life Education give schools?
Coram Life Education provides schools with support by dealing with topics that are relevant to the needs of different ages and through the expertise of tutors who tailor each session to meet the concerns generated within it. The tutors’ expertise complements that which is available in schools.
Coram Life Education ticks a lot of boxes. All programmes are aligned with the National Curriculum and helps schools to meet their statutory requirements for children’s Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development. Ofsted like it, and it engages parents and carers through special sessions and assemblies that give them an opportunity to review and come to terms with key messages.
Further support is provided through their SCARF (Safety, Caring, Achievement, Resilience and Friendship) on-line teacher resources that provide a whole-school approach with lesson plans, online planning and assessment tools to give teachers the skills and confidence to embed a comprehensive PSHE and Wellbeing programme throughout the primary years.