Big changes start locally

Campaigning for Change

The Key Gabriel

Over the next few weeks we have invited young change maker Gabriel to guest blog regarding the campaign he has set up. Gabriel was funded through Virgin Money Foundation’s #iwill Take Action Fund.

My name is Gabriel Brown, I am 19 and from Northumberland. Over the last three months I have been leading my own research project on the importance of Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) and Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) in school thanks to support from Virgin Money Foundation and North East youth charity, The Key.

For a long time now, since being in school, I have questioned the lack of life skills and citizenship taught in schools. I feel that our education should actually prepare us for the world as well as teach us useful things.

Maths relates to real life in most cases, but so do many other things like learning what a mortgage is, developing decision-making skills and building strong communication skills! True, life lessons exist, but they are commonly given only one or two lessons every week or, in some cases, fifteen minutes in the morning. This isn’t to say that I think core subjects are unimportant, but rather that there needs to be a greater focus on life skills and the topics of PSHE and CCE in the curriculum too.

Life skills lessons help set young people up for adult life; helping educate them about sex and relationships, drugs, alcohol, finance and more, whilst also giving us the skills we need to enter the adult world, find (and keep) a job, develop relationships, be part of society and feel that our opinions and voices matter and should be heard.

The Department for Education launched statutory guidance to accompany the “introduction of compulsory health, relationships education and relationships and sex education (RSE) in 2020,” but I think many of the important topics still don’t feature in the curriculum and despite it being a requirement, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent approach from schools across the North East and further afield.

Supported by The Key, I applied to the Virgin Money Foundation to research this topic further, talk to young people across the North East about their experiences and views and speak to teachers and others working in education to see what they think. I plan to make a campaign film to highlight how big the needs is for life skills education and make resources to help young people and teachers to campaign further. It’s the first time the Foundation has directly funded a young person this way.

I hope the research proves how critical it is in the development of young people so we can all enter adult life with the knowledge and skills we need to cope. I want to shine a light on the views of other young people on this subject and I want to influence decision-makers and policy leaders and show them how much it means to us. I hope to speak to my generation and make a change!

Look out for another blog next week with some of my initial research findings.

Gabriel Brown

Young Change Maker

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