Health Education in Schools

This is the second of my posts on yoga in the national curriculum. This coincides with the Government’s announcement last week on the proposed statutory introduction of health education within schools from autumn 2020. Once introduced, this will be integrated within the Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) Curriculum.

The announcement has been welcomed by organisations such as the PSHE Association. They regard this as being a major step towards addressing concerns about consistency of quality and reduced curriculum time for PSHE, despite its proven benefits.

In the Government’s draft guidelines, there is recognition of the interlink between physical health and mental wellbeing. In addition, how schools will be actively encouraged to promote self control amongst their pupils so that they are able to achieve well and persevere through life when they encounter setbacks.

The guidance sets out aims on what pupils should know at the end of key stages. At primary level this includes knowledge of simple self-care techniques, including the impact of relaxation.  In addition, the benefits of physical activity on mental wellbeing and happiness. At secondary level, this includes using physical activity to combat stress.

The guidance makes clear that schools have the flexibility to design and plan age-appropriate subject content. Although this could provide opportunities for yoga in the national curriculum, this is not a given. Health education is a broad theme covering many potential subjects such as those related to physical fitness, nutrition and first aid.

For yoga to find its place in the curriculum, it will be important to present its multi-faceted benefits in a way that demonstrate how yoga can be at the heart of health education within schools. This includes the benefits yoga classes can provide to topics such as physical and mental health, diet and nutrition and personal health and hygiene.

When Education Secretary, Damien Hinds MP made his statement last week, he said “I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world.’

I am not suggesting that yoga is the silver bullet to realising this ambition. However, there are guiding principles in yoga philosophy that through a yoga practice, our children would be better equipped to deal with the pressures of everyday life.

In my next post, i will talk more about the benefits of practicing yoga within schools, underpinned by the principles of yoga and how this can align with the needs of schools.