WAQ71647 (e) Tabled on 06/12/2016

Are children taught about health conditions, such as depression, diabetes, sepsis and meningitis in school, so that they may recognise the signs in themselves and others?

Answered by Cabinet Secretary for Education | Answered on 13/12/2016

Our curriculum through science and through personal and social education (PSE) is designed to help learners make sense of their everyday lives and the wider world, including health, medicine and applications of technology in the world of science, health and work. The science curriculum is designed to support learners' understanding on the range of interdependent organisms and their inter-relationships; including issues such as influenza, chronic illnesses and disease. This includes names, structure and functions of the human body. The effects of drugs, alcohol and tobacco on the human body are also explored, among other areas, to develop contextualised understanding about how lifestyle decisions impact health. The curriculum includes specific focus on the structure and function of cells, tissues, organs and organ systems and how they support vital life processes. This includes how food is used as fuel during respiration, why a balanced diet is needed for good health, and the benefits and detriments of insulin, steroids, paracetamol and caffeine on the human body. The science curriculum is statutory for all until age 16 and at Key Stage 4 learners can engage in more in depth through study of GCSE Biology. Within that, learners will develop greater understanding of disease and affects on human health. This includes particular focus on the different causes of disease; how diseases can be spread; good practice to minimise spread of diseases; and how diseases are treated, such as antibiotics. This will include specific focus on pathogens or micro organism diseases such as bacteria, viruses, protists and fungi and how they play a role in diseases of the tissue, blood and fluid membranes such as Sepsis and Meningitis. Improving the emotional and mental health of children and young people is a key priority for the Welsh Government. One of the aims of our second delivery plan (2016-19) supporting the implementation of Together for Mental Health, our 10-year mental health strategy, is helping children and young people to be more resilient and better able to cope with poor mental well-being.
There are routes within the curriculum for schools to teach learners about mental health and different health conditions across all age groups through PSE, this is a statutory part of curriculum for all pupils aged 7-16 at maintained schools.
The PSE framework, which schools should use for planning PSE, contains five themes. One of these themes is Health and Emotional Wellbeing, which gives schools the opportunity to inform and discuss the affects of health conditions. Learners can be helped to improve their knowledge and practical skills to keep their mind and body safe and to make informed choices on nutrition, exercise, hygiene, safety and healthy choices. In the new curriculum and assessment arrangement currently being developed, will be designed to recognise that children and young people need to experience social, emotional and physical well-being to thrive and engage successfully with their education. The four purposes articulated in Successful Futures and which will be at the heart of the design of the new curriculum includes the aim that children should become healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society. In addition, Health and well-being will be one of six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLEs) which will be central to the structure of the new curriculum. The design of the new curriculum is being taken forward by a network of Pioneer Schools and practitioners working with education professionals and other experts across Wales and beyond (including; Estyn, consortia, Higher Education, business and other key partners). It is their collective expertise that will shape the new curriculum. Early in the New Year, working groups will be established to begin the design of the six AoLEs. The Health and well-being AoLE will draw on subjects and themes from mental, physical and emotional well-being. My ambition remains for the new curriculum to be made available to schools from 2018 and fully available to support learning and teaching by 2021.