"How to reduce violence and improve relationships" at the 1996 Annual Conference of
the UK Parenting Education and Support Forum in London.
This workshop arrived at four recommendations, as follows:
1) The 3 Rs should be converted into the 4 Rs: reading, writing,
'rithmetic and relationships;
2) Life Skills, including significant parenting and relationships
components, should be accorded a much higher status in schools;
3) Teaching of Life Skills should be properly funded, drawing on
cross-agency sources, recognising that this is a sound pay-back investment
by society, not a cost;
4) There should be proper training to prepare teachers to deliver
effective, high-quality Life Skills courses.
1) The 3 Rs should be converted into the 4 Rs
There can be few life skills more important to children than teaching them
how to engage in relationships successfully - with particular emphasis on
future relationships as parents, and as partners. The emotional development
of children is as important as their intellectual development, and a shift
to recognising the "4Rs" would be a valuable step in the government, and
educational authorities, recognising the need for this more balanced
approach to the meaning of 'education'.
2) Life Skills should be accorded a much higher status in schools
Teaching of Life Skills, particularly parenting and relationships, better
prepares children for the demands of adult life in the home, in the work
place, and in social contact with others. Parenting education should be a
key subject within the Life Skills curriculum, as it benefits children
directly as (future) parents, and , indirectly, the next generation whose
early life experience, so crucial to the future of our society, will be
determined by the quality of parenting they receive. Personal growth, sense
of self-worth and emotional literacy should all be accorded high priority
within the school curriculum.
Life Skills training should not be a 'cross-curriculum subject, but a full
subject in its own right. It should receive as much priority as Maths,
English or History. There should be a natural sequence to the flow from one
element of teaching of Life Skills to another. A snappier title than the
current "PSE" used in English schools, for Life Skills training, should be
Life Skills, including Parenting Education, should also be provided to
children in care, and other groups beyond the reach of schools.
3) Teaching of Life Skills should be properly funded
Government should provide sufficient funding to support high quality Life
Skills courses. The cost of this should not fall wholly on the Education
budget, but should also receive funding from Health and Home Office
budgets, recognising its contribution to the objectives of these
In particular, the Government should recognise that this is a very
attractive self-funding investment. Research shows that parenting education
is effective, and does work; the 'High-Scope' showed a 7-1 pay-back.
Overwhelming research evidence shows the links between wrong parenting
methods, and the development of crime. Fostering better parenting could
reduce the cost of crime to this country - recently valued by the Sunday
Times (23/3/97) at £31 billion per annum - an estimate consistent with a
recent Canadian study on the costs of violence against women alone (over £2
billion per annum in that country, equivalent to over £5 billion in the
4) There should be proper teacher training for high-quality Life
Colleges, schools and other institutions involved with initial teacher
training should give appropriate priority to parenthood education, and
other Life Skills topics, such that teachers have the range of knowledge
and skills necessary to deliver effective, high-quality courses. This
should include a full understanding of child and adult development.
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