A government consultation is when the government consults the people (simple as that) on something they're thinking about, by creating a form on their website with a series of questions that anyone can answer and send in. They'll read through all the responses and then decide whether to debate the issue in parliament. Right now, there's a consultation open about education, and we think it's a great opportunity to tell the government if you think economics should be on the curriculum. Here are the key stats and facts you can use to make your case. The deadline is Monday, 12th Feb, 11.59pm.
- PSHE is currently a non-compulsory subject, and its implementation at UK schools is patchy
- The ‘E’ in PSHE stands for an 'economic' education
- This government has indicated that it would like to make PSHE compulsory (‘statutory’) in schools, to be implemented by September 2019
- There is currently a ‘call for evidence’ from the Department for Education which closes at midnight on the 12 February 2018
- Anyone can respond, and Economy strongly recommends submitting to this call for evidence as outlined below
What’s going on with PSHE?
Despite the efforts of schools and teachers, if you or anyone you know has been at school since the year 2000, the quantity and quality of PSHE education you received will have been a bit of a lottery.
- As part of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, it was decided that Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) would be made statutory in all English schools. This means that it will soon become a compulsory part of the national curriculum.
- Three government committees, the National Headteachers Association and teachers from the National Education Union (formerly the NUT) are strongly arguing that PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education) should also be made statutory. This is largely a response to Ofsted’s findings that teaching of the subject is rated as either ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ in 40% of schools, with “knowledge of budgeting and economic enterprise” only classed as ‘Good’ or above in two thirds of schools.
- 'Economic education' was only added to the PSHE programme in 2010. As such, elements of PSHE education relating to student’s economic wellbeing are the least implemented and understood in schools - one child in Ofsted's report for example was concerned that ‘we don’t learn to grow up’
- There is growing evidence that compulsory status, with properly timetabled lessons, is the best way to increase the overall effectiveness of PSHE.
- It has also been shown that when schools deliver PSHE to a high standard, it's proven benefits go beyond health, safety and wellbeing to supporting academic success and life chances, this can in turn lesson the burden on schools and teacher workload..
Why should we teach young people basic economics?
Here’s the evidence on why what economics education is so necessary and how it will help.
- Knowledge and skills in personal finance are a statutory part of the Citizenship curriculum, which as of January 2017, doesn’t apply to 68.9% of all secondary pupils who attend academies or free schools. This likely contributed to an All Party Parliamentary Group’s (APPG) findings of it being, “patchy, inconsistent and varying in effectiveness”. Effective PSHE has been shown to remedy this.
- Only 12% of people find the way politicians and the media communicate about economics accessible. Effective delivery of a basic economics curriculum from Key Stage 1 would ensure that young people don’t leave school feeling isolated and unable to engage with the language of politics.
- Our research in 2017 indicated a positive correlation between perceived economic understanding, and likelihood to vote. It also demonstrated that people from more disadvantaged backgrounds feel least able to engage in conversation about economics. With the economy mentioned 59 times in the 2015 winning election manifesto, economics illiteracy is a barrier to engagement in our democracy. Not only do adults wish they knew more about economics; a recent study by the Economics Network showed that 76% think it should be a taught in schools.
- A study of PSHE by Ofsted found that the topic that students most wished they were learning more about was economic well-being. This is also highlighted by the large increase in students studying GCSE economics, which has more than doubled since before the financial crisis (from 0.6% to 1.6%). Several A Level economics teachers have told us that there is demand for the subject at their school, but funding and staffing constraints mean they cannot offer it.
What kind of economics should young people learn?
If pupils are to attain the ‘economic well-being’ objectives of PSHE, we believe that young people need a level of economic literacy with which to engage with the world around them.
- We believe economic literacy should provide a way to look at whether we, as citizens, have the tools and understanding necessary to form an informed, critical view on economic options open to us in our democracy. Economic literacy has broader impacts which resound through our democratic lives: it gives us the means to understand and evaluate economic concepts as they relate to personal finance, but also to our national and global interests and in the context of our political systems. It leaves us able to both make more confident decisions in our personal financial lives, or to engage more effectively in democracy.
- This need not be as complex as attempting to boil down degree-level, A Level or even GCSE level economics subjects (which are designed to create professional economists), but rather provide the answers to the simple questions “What is the economy? And what’s it got to do with me?”. This prepares young people to become citizen economists, equipped to understand, apply and criticise the kinds of economics there’ll be exposed to as adult members of the public.
What we think you should say
Anybody can respond to the current call for evidence which closes at 11:59pm on Monday 12th February, and is available on the government’s website.
The first four questions ask for your opinion on the content of Sex and Relationships education - we’re most interested in questions 5, 6 and 7, you’re allowed a maximum 250 words for each.
We recommend making these points within your answers:
- Basic economics education supports a functioning democracy: “Economic well-being” should remain at the heart of compulsory PSHE education, providing young people with a basic framework for participation in adult life, whether this is through making more confident decisions in our personal financial lives, and to engage more effectively in democracy.
- Economic well-being cannot be achieved without basic economic literacy: if pupils are unable to understand the information they will be exposed to about the economy, and why it is important to them upon leaving school, they are ill-equipped for the modern world. This preparation for adult life is argued by Ofsted as a key principle of PSHE education.
- A basic economics education fits perfectly within the current PSHE framework: The PSHE Association recommends covering the “core themes” of ‘relationships’, ‘health and wellbeing’ and ‘living in the wider world’, teaching them with increasing depth and complexity through key stages 1-5.
- There is strong adult demand for a basic economics education: only 12% of adults think that the media and politicians talk about economics in a way that is understandable and 76% think that the subject should be taught in schools.