Amid all the conflicting priorities and politics of the educational arena there must be one area of agreement. We all share a responsibility to promote the safety of young people as they grow up in a world in which crime, harassment and violence show no signs of abating.
Education for safety is still a much neglected issue. Its place in the national curriculum is relegated to sub-divisions of non-statutory cross-curricular themes. Despite a genuine commitment on the part of schools, learning is frequently incidental.
The provision of clear, effective resources is not the whole answer, but it may help to change commitment in principle to practical provision. Many primary school teachers are already familiar with the Health for Life series. For those who want to build on the work in greater depth as students approach adolescence, Nelson have published the aptly titled Safe for Life for use with nine to 13-year-olds.
It aims to help teachers and pupils explore themes such as emotions; responsibilities to others; anti-social behaviour; consequences of our actions; creating a safe and secure environment and becoming a responsible citizen.
By providing background information for teachers, case studies and ideas for discussion, together with age-differentiated activities and photocopyable worksheets, the authors attempt to combine structure with adaptability.
Their advice on developing a partnership approach should be heeded. Workshop materials for use with parents or carers would have been helpful. So would more specific materials to support discussions between teachers and other professionals - police liaison officers, colleagues from social services and education welfare officers.
The authors rightly point out that issues such as racism, child abuse and drug misuse will require more coverage than this resource provides. These are areas which must be addressed by the whole school, so the relevant exercises should be used as part of a co-ordinated approach.
The whole area of safety education needs careful planning and co-ordination. Safe for Life will help those who wish to raise this field in subjects such as English, maths, history and design and technology, as well as PSE, citizenship, health education and environmental education. It will be a welcome addition to the resource collections of many schools.
Jan Campbell is PSE adviser for Hertfordshire