Wales

Youth parliament: schools must teach more life skills

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Media captionWelsh Youth Parliament member Tommy Church makes the case for teaching life skills

Schools should teach more life skills to avoid producing "A* robots with no knowledge of the real world", the Welsh Youth Parliament has said.

Its first major review suggested life skills such as dealing with grief and arranging a mortgage should be part of children's education.

It called for the new curriculum to be amended on the basis of its findings.

The Welsh Government agreed life skills were important and the new curriculum would develop "capable learners".

Education Minister Kirsty Williams will address the recommendations when the Youth Parliament meets on Friday.

The report identified "large gaps" in the life skills being taught in schools as well as too much emphasis on exams.

"We currently leave school with a handful of skills but no knowledge on how to speak in public, clean, maintain healthy relationships, buy cars, apply for mortgages, road safety, and many other skills that are needed to succeed in life", it said.

What do young people think?

Image caption Kyra, 15, thinks many pupils will feel "lost" after leaving the school environment

More than 2,500 young people were questioned as part of the Welsh Youth Parliament's research.

It suggested that more than eight out of 10 young people had been taught about internet safety and dealing with bullying, only around one in 10 had learned about dealing with grief or political education.

When asked which life skills should be taught, almost three-quarters of the young people questioned chose life-saving and dealing with stress.

Kyra, 15, from Ysgol Nantgwyn in Tonypandy, agreed children should be taught more life skills generally to prepare them for leaving school.

"A lot of people probably come out of school after having so much support and then we just don't, it's all gone, and a lot of people are going to be lost from that," she said.

Image caption Tomas, 14, said many youngsters do not have basic financial knowledge, like the difference between a credit and debit card

Tomas, 14, said financial literacy was one of the most important skills.

"Learning to spend your money responsibly is a good skill, because when most young people leave school, they... don't even know the difference between a credit and debit card, get a lot of debt and you spend your life paying back debt," he said.

"It's going to affect you for the rest of your life."

The Welsh Youth Parliament report said it was clear pupils were not being taught the subjects they valued, and said politicians and schools should "listen more to young people when making decisions on their education".

How should life skills be taught in school?

The report found that life skills were often "crammed" into personal and social education days, which are viewed as "days off" by pupils.

Survey results also suggested teachers did not feel comfortable in delivering the lessons and some were worried about "not being in touch, and getting things wrong".

The report said the Welsh Baccalaureate was not "successfully achieving its aim", and therefore a new life skills qualification or certificate should be introduced for 16-year-olds.

Other recommendations included a dedicated life skills lesson in schools every fortnight, a life skills coordinator in every school and a national life skills commissioner to oversee how it is taught across Wales.

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