The Student Room Group

What is missing from the school curriculum?

This poll is closed

What is missing from the school curriculum?

Basic life skills (e.g. cooking) 17%
Financial skills (e.g. taxes, budgeting) 52%
First aid skills 10%
Personal safety skills 3%
Sign language 10%
Expanded sexual health/relationships 6%
Something else (tell us in the thread)3%
Total votes: 355
There's already lot to learn while you're at school, but what do you think is missing from the curriculum?

Do you think life skills should be added? Or maybe there are subjects that you can't study until A-levels that you think should be taught earlier on?

Let us know what you think :smile:

Scroll to see replies

Original post by Vic Vinegar
There's already lot to learn while you're at school, but what do you think is missing from the curriculum?

Do you think life skills should be added? Or maybe there are subjects that you can't study until A-levels that you think should be taught earlier on?

Let us know what you think :smile:


I have a long list of skills that I think should be taught in schools (whether schools have the time and budget to teach these extra skills is another matter). These would include:

DIY

Cooking and food hygiene

Soft skills - persuasion, argument, public speaking, negotiation, communication, socialise

Self defense

How to put on makeup and dress well

Writing styles - business, academic, formal, and email

Etiquette

Financial skills - at least financial management

Survival skills - for emergencies

Writing a good CV

Basic plumbing, heating, electric, and car maintenance

How to entertain guests

How to research properly

How to shave/groom properly

How to dance well

How to cycle, skate, and skateboard

How to garden and grow their own food

How to consume alcohol appropriately

Basic first aid

How to read maps or navigate

How to read constellations

Assembling computers and basic IT maintenance

How to brush teeth and floss (technically being taught in schools)

Guidelines on how to date people

Meditation

Lessons on ethics and morality, as well as how to form their own judgements

How to look after pets

How to parent kids and family planning

How to travel solo

How to be productive and manage time well

Emotional intelligence



Some of these skills are more key than others.
Some of these skills are being taught indirectly, but many aren't being taught at all. If they are being taught, they are normally just told to do it and figure things out as opposed given a framework on how to do certain things. I find this inadequate because the results can vary wildly and often demoralise students since they have no clue on the approach.

Granted, there were programs like home economics that were taught in the past but were later cancelled, but I advocate that many of the reasons for the cancellation aren't applicable. In fact, there is a strong need and demand for some of these skills to be taught again in schools.

I would think it's safe to say that a good portion of these skills can be taught to primary school students. These lessons don't need to be long (say 1 hour a week), and I find them more productive than say some of the unessential but mandatory subjects taught in schools.
The more mature topics such as travel, dating, and grooming can be taught later in secondary schools, again with 1 lesson a week being more than adequate.

When it really comes down to it, I find that the necessary entry requirements for higher and further education aren't as demanding as schools make them out to be e.g. if you only need GCSE maths and English Language for certain courses at college, you wouldn't really need as many of the other subjects on top, especially if it's not a required subject for specific courses at the particular college. I would argue that there should be more room made for the life skills that would serve the students in a longer term than something that they would use to say up to degree level (say 21 years of age).

I would also have to point out that life is often not as idealistic as when you have parents who are expected to know all of the above or be able to attend to the children all of the time. Equipping the children with these necessary skills earlier in life can foster their independence as well as reducing the risk of them being unprepared in certain unfortunate events or circumstances.
Original post by Vic Vinegar
There's already lot to learn while you're at school, but what do you think is missing from the curriculum?

Do you think life skills should be added? Or maybe there are subjects that you can't study until A-levels that you think should be taught earlier on?

Let us know what you think :smile:

First aid, personal stuff, even some special routes to allow people to graduate early like in US high schools (a year early), some gifted + talented programs, life skills, etc.
Original post by MindMax2000
I have a long list of skills that I think should be taught in schools (whether schools have the time and budget to teach these extra skills is another matter). These would include:

DIY

Cooking and food hygiene

Soft skills - persuasion, argument, public speaking, negotiation, communication, socialise

Self defense

Writing styles - business, academic, formal, and email

Etiquette

Financial skills - at least financial management

Survival skills - for emergencies

Basic plumbing, heating, electric, and car maintenance

How to research properly

How to cycle, skate, and skateboard

How to garden and grow their own food

How to consume alcohol appropriately

Basic first aid

How to read maps or navigate

How to read constellations

Assembling computers and basic IT maintenance

How to brush teeth and floss (technically being taught in schools)

Guidelines on how to date people

Meditation

Lessons on ethics and morality, as well as how to form their own judgements

How to look after pets

How to parent kids and family planning

How to travel solo

How to be productive and manage time well

Emotional intelligence




Basic plumbing, heating, electric, and car maintenance - I agree!
How to cycle, skate, and skateboard - most people learn these outside of school
Basic first aid - yes, very important!
Lessons on ethics and morality, as well as how to form their own judgements - this sounds interesting, especially the part about forming own judgements.
Emotional intelligence - A lot of people have this, but I'm not sure how you could teach this?
Reply 4
What schools did you all go to where ethics, persuasion and soft skills, code-switching writing, recognising predators, drink and drugs etc wasn't taught?! This is a genuine question. Much of it is couched in what you do in your 'generic' subjects but these skills should all be there.

I was taught this stuff in school 25 years ago and I went to a failing school :lol:

It can't be the curriculum because I've since taught in schools and we also did all this stuff. Insane.
Reply 5
We taught on budgeting etc too, actually. Our social wellbeing stuff was really good.
Original post by gjd800
What schools did you all go to where ethics, persuasion and soft skills, code-switching writing, recognising predators, drink and drugs etc wasn't taught?! This is a genuine question. Much of it is couched in what you do in your 'generic' subjects but these skills should all be there.

I was taught this stuff in school 25 years ago and I went to a failing school :lol:

It can't be the curriculum because I've since taught in schools and we also did all this stuff. Insane.


Sorry, I should have been more clear.

I am not saying elements of these were not taught at all, but they are not substantial enough.

For example, the information on drugs and drinks are somewhat superficial e.g. you should only drink so many units of alcohol, the consequences of getting drunk, and possibly getting a criminal record when doing something unsavoury. The information doesn't go in depth on the long term health implications of drinking (other than alcohol poisoning), how to actually enjoy alcohol and how to drink it whilst having food (it's not gulping it down), when they should stop or recognise they have a problem (it's not when they end up in hospital), or what's considered appropriate drinking etiquette. I work on a hypothesis if people are taught how to enjoy and moderate themselves as well as the consequences of the vices, they would likely be able to moderate their own behaviour better as adults.

Likewise for skills such as persuasion, it's doesn't go into enough depth to be used in say a workplace. If the only form of persuasion taught is listing the benefits of an action and then trying to acknowledge the negatives whilst turning those around, it's very very unlikely this trivial note would carry them very far in say a sales or people oriented job. Using the material in a superficial task like a classroom presentation wouldn't help that much, if the criteria or scenario bears little to no resemblance to the workplace they can end up working in.
I get particularly annoyed when pupils are given a task and then expected to perform right off the bat. It's like telling the pupils that they need to write a persuasive article, but were given no lessons or framework on how to be persuasive. Some pupils don't have the luxury of being taught these lessons by their parents or learn what they need outside of school, so they are often come to lessons without the know-how of what the teachers expect them to already know. This issue is very predominant when it comes to families of different cultures and social backgrounds, where what they learn and how they learn stuff from their parents vary widely.

For budgeting for example, I would expect the lessons to have covered the following:

Timing of cash flows (ideally using cash flow forecast) and the importance of cash

How to write up a budget and do simple variance analysis (or compare what's gone up and went down, looking at percentages and absolute amounts)

At least 3 different approaches to budgeting e.g. zero based budgeting, historic budgeting, budgeting based on forecasts

What items to prioritise

Draft a personal income statement and balance sheet (so they can readily apply the lessons to their own lives, even if it's something as little as managing pocket money and personal spending) and see how they are linked to the budget

Sources of funds and the costs and responsibilities that come with them. How they relate to the budget.

How to use Excel (or a basic spreadsheet software) for budgeting

I am not sure what the budgeting lessons are like, but if they're anything like the above then I don't have the right to say. If they are not, then I have a list of reasons to why the lessons need to go deeper.

I can appreciate that the schools are limited by budget and resources and the teachers by knowledge and relevant skills of how to teach these topics effectively, but I would struggle to understand why they don't for example, ask a trainer or a tutor from a local adult college who have such expertise or experience to help give lessons on such topics periodically. Guest teachers, speakers, and tutors are often invited into schools to do various speeches and lessons on specific academic subjects, but usually not for the life skills listed above.

If these life skills are as valuable as they should be, I would have thought pupils should be expected to leave school at least proficient in the basics.

Perhaps I am wrong and things have significantly progressed since I was last in school, but I haven't come across evidence of this being the case.

Do note: this is not a personal attack on you, but it's amongst the general criticisms I have on the education system of the country.
Higher-level Maths concepts should be taught earlier. Take the lesson time out of Geography classes, I'm not sure why this subject still limps on.
Original post by Meltboy7778
Higher-level Maths concepts should be taught earlier. Take the lesson time out of Geography classes, I'm not sure why this subject still limps on.


Nah take it out of RS, GCSE MFL or English literature instead in my opinion if we do this (this is coming from someone who hasn’t done any geography for around 8 years).
Original post by Talkative Toad
Nah take it out of RS, GCSE MFL or English literature instead in my opinion if we do this (this is coming from someone who hasn’t done any geography for around 8 years).


RS is in the curriculum for appearances, at my school we had about 6 mandatory lessons which went through all the required material without covering any fluff, then moved on.

English literature was one of the highlights of my time at school, and I fear if it's removed some people will never read a book in their lives, let alone Shakespeare (while everyone likes to say Shakespeare's dull, I have yet to find someone who couldn't remember the plot or a powerful quote from the play they were forced to study.)

GCSE MFL is, quite simply, useless though I do agree. Language learning in the education system is flawed in general.
Reply 10
Basic analytic/critical thinking skills to stop people believing in silly conspiracies.
Original post by Meltboy7778
RS is in the curriculum for appearances, at my school we had about 6 mandatory lessons which went through all the required material without covering any fluff, then moved on.

English literature was one of the highlights of my time at school, and I fear if it's removed some people will never read a book in their lives, let alone Shakespeare (while everyone likes to say Shakespeare's dull, I have yet to find someone who couldn't remember the plot or a powerful quote from the play they were forced to study.)

GCSE MFL is, quite simply, useless though I do agree. Language learning in the education system is flawed in general.

Some schools make RS mandatory (as a GCSE subject), mine did.

I’d say that being able to know basic geography (knowing about different climates, climate change, directions, maps etc and whatever else you do) is more useful in day to day life than being to analyse Shakespeare (e.g “why is Lady Macbeth presented as a masculine character in the play Macbeth”. This coming from someone who dislikes both English Literature and Geography). But that’s just me.

You can find other ways to encourage people to read and perhaps finally encourage them to find and read books that they enjoy. Could make people (appropriate) read books that they enjoy and have them have to give a presentation on the the book that they’ve just read along with them having to verbally analyse it for example or have pupils analyse newspaper articles, politics, philosophy, more up to date literature, do literature reviews and teach referencing etc as opposed to the current English Literature system. There’s people who like/love reading but don’t like the current English literature syllabus (having to read books and poems that were written hundreds of years ago and then having to do complex (written) analysis on them).

I don’t agree with the idea that GCSE MFL is useless but I disagree with schools making it a mandatory subject (whether that’s only for some students or all of them in the school), same thing with GCSE RS and GCSE English Literature.
Original post by Meltboy7778
Higher-level Maths concepts should be taught earlier. Take the lesson time out of Geography classes, I'm not sure why this subject still limps on.

PRSOM

It's fine to teach calculus in igcse and stuff like that. Maybe more maths so the physics can be more... calculus-based?

But which higher level maths concepts should we include?
Reply 13
Original post by MindMax2000
I have a long list of skills that I think should be taught in schools (whether schools have the time and budget to teach these extra skills is another matter). These would include:

DIY

Cooking and food hygiene

Soft skills - persuasion, argument, public speaking, negotiation, communication, socialise

Self defense

How to put on makeup and dress well

Writing styles - business, academic, formal, and email

Etiquette

Financial skills - at least financial management

Survival skills - for emergencies

Writing a good CV

Basic plumbing, heating, electric, and car maintenance

How to entertain guests

How to research properly

How to shave/groom properly

How to dance well

How to cycle, skate, and skateboard

How to garden and grow their own food

How to consume alcohol appropriately

Basic first aid

How to read maps or navigate

How to read constellations

Assembling computers and basic IT maintenance

How to brush teeth and floss (technically being taught in schools)

Guidelines on how to date people

Meditation

Lessons on ethics and morality, as well as how to form their own judgements

How to look after pets

How to parent kids and family planning

How to travel solo

How to be productive and manage time well

Emotional intelligence



Some of these skills are more key than others.
Some of these skills are being taught indirectly, but many aren't being taught at all. If they are being taught, they are normally just told to do it and figure things out as opposed given a framework on how to do certain things. I find this inadequate because the results can vary wildly and often demoralise students since they have no clue on the approach.

Granted, there were programs like home economics that were taught in the past but were later cancelled, but I advocate that many of the reasons for the cancellation aren't applicable. In fact, there is a strong need and demand for some of these skills to be taught again in schools.

I would think it's safe to say that a good portion of these skills can be taught to primary school students. These lessons don't need to be long (say 1 hour a week), and I find them more productive than say some of the unessential but mandatory subjects taught in schools.
The more mature topics such as travel, dating, and grooming can be taught later in secondary schools, again with 1 lesson a week being more than adequate.

When it really comes down to it, I find that the necessary entry requirements for higher and further education aren't as demanding as schools make them out to be e.g. if you only need GCSE maths and English Language for certain courses at college, you wouldn't really need as many of the other subjects on top, especially if it's not a required subject for specific courses at the particular college. I would argue that there should be more room made for the life skills that would serve the students in a longer term than something that they would use to say up to degree level (say 21 years of age).

I would also have to point out that life is often not as idealistic as when you have parents who are expected to know all of the above or be able to attend to the children all of the time. Equipping the children with these necessary skills earlier in life can foster their independence as well as reducing the risk of them being unprepared in certain unfortunate events or circumstances.


All of these are life skills and can be easily learnt once you have learned how to learn at school. These days we seems to see school as the arbiter all all learning when in actual fact school gives you the basics and hopefully the ability to learn for yourself.
Original post by hotpud
All of these are life skills and can be easily learnt once you have learned how to learn at school. These days we seems to see school as the arbiter all all learning when in actual fact school gives you the basics and hopefully the ability to learn for yourself.


I suppose, but then the school doesn't really teach you how to learn something i.e. there's no framework taught to students.

Education is in fact its own subject and it's taught in colleges and universities, yet the pupils themselves are supposed to infer the ideas and frameworks in these education studies (or learning how to learn) from their academic subjects. This makes little sense to me.
In fact, I never remembered there ever being a lesson taught on how to actually score high marks and what the marking criteria in all their vagueness is suppose to mark you on. Quite a few of us had to either use model answers, throw in the kitchen sink, or try to infer what the criteria meant. It's demoralising and very unhelpful. How are you supposed to learn something if you don't know what you are supposed to be learning? However, than in itself is another can of worms altogether.

If your statement holds water, then it would make more sense for the school day not to be as long as it is so pupils get to learn what they need, either in school or outside of school (assuming they have the resources to do so and know where to look for the appropriate material, and they often don't). In fact, if the statement is true, then I fail to understand why some of these very same life skills are taught in vocational/adult colleges, or why these colleges would need specific tutors for these skills.

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with your point.
Reply 15
Original post by Meltboy7778
Take the lesson time out of Geography classes, I'm not sure why this subject still limps on.


I am assuming this is a joke, but Geography is hugely relevant and important at this moment in time. The number of jobs relating to the environment and sustainability are growing rapidly. Furthermore, the dynamic nature of global politics and the global economy can also be much better understood by getting to grips with the basics of geography.
Perhaps it would be better for the humanities to be taught together in one subject? In France, I believe they have "Histoire-Géo", a combination of history and geography. History, geography, economics, politics, religion etc. can be all be better understood when connected together. An understanding of the historical geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, for example, would be better understood if combined with a knowledge of the region's religious situation and natural resources.

Although, I do agree that higher-level maths concepts should be taught earlier, obviously only to those that can handle them.
Reply 16
Original post by MindMax2000
I suppose, but then the school doesn't really teach you how to learn something i.e. there's no framework taught to students.


Are you serious? The whole system is about teaching children how to learn.

About trying things that are difficult
Repetition makes perfection
Go back over things you have already learned to reinforce them
Do private study / homework to deepen knowledge
Take on board feedback given and make corrections as necessary

You don't learn by simply reading something or having it told to you. That isn't what teaching is and is why teachers will never be replaced by Google or AI. Good teaching is about the facilitation of learning in the learner. In other words, teaching people how to learn. The big buzzwords in teaching right now are cognitive load theory, but in reality it is just a fancy-pants name for the mechanisms that have been happening in education for many years now.

Original post by MindMax2000

In fact, I never remembered there ever being a lesson taught on how to actually score high marks and what the marking criteria in all their vagueness is suppose to mark you on. Quite a few of us had to either use model answers, throw in the kitchen sink, or try to infer what the criteria meant. It's demoralising and very unhelpful. How are you supposed to learn something if you don't know what you are supposed to be learning? However, than in itself is another can of worms altogether.


I think things may have moved on since you were at school. I have done whole research projects and the place I work has done a massive whole college push on the skills students need to learn in order to be successful. We call it studentship and has nothing to do with individual subjects but everything to do with what makes a successful student.

Original post by MindMax2000

If your statement holds water, then it would make more sense for the school day not to be as long as it is so pupils get to learn what they need, either in school or outside of school (assuming they have the resources to do so and know where to look for the appropriate material, and they often don't). In fact, if the statement is true, then I fail to understand why some of these very same life skills are taught in vocational/adult colleges, or why these colleges would need specific tutors for these skills.


Half a sec - you are doing that "I went to school therefore I am an expert" thing that 99% of the population do. This held strong in education for many years but thankfully education is finally following research led interventions and one of the best go-to places is the Education Endowment Foundation.

Your premise is that outcomes would improve if the school day were shorter. Incorrect. Extending the school day has positive outcomes but is expensive and not cost effective
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/education-evidence/teaching-learning-toolkit/extending-school-time
(edited 8 months ago)
I think the SRE curriculum definitely needs updating, especially to cover LGBTQ+ topics.
I found the poll difficult because honestly I feel that certain financial skills (like budgeting) very much fall under the basic life skills category.

Philosophical dialogue and debate should have more emphasis going forwards I think, one of the internet/ social media's biggest pitfalls is the inability to acknowledge or attempt to understand the different sides to an argument. Building learners to become stronger critical thinkers with more open minds would lead to more more compassion in the long run, I think.
The school I work at puts all pupils in year 11 through a financial literacy qualification. So that ticks that box I guess?

RSE curriculum is currently undergoing updates in England to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+

Cookery is taught in every school I've ever been to, visited or worked at.

Majority of schools I've been to or worked at had some element of first aid training, but I agree that it could be expanded.

Personal safety is taught in many elements of the curriculum already (e.g. road safety in the primary curriculum).

The only thing on the poll which I haven't seen already being done in schools is sign language (I'm sure some schools are great with this, but it's inconsistent at best). So this is the option I voted for.

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending