Posted: 14 January 2020

Let that be a lesson: what should be taught in school and college?

Young people in the Jam and Justice group get together every month to discuss issues important to them. Discussions centre around decisions they are not involved in making. For example, what should be taught in school?

The group surveyed a further 138 other young people and produced the Life Lessons booklet, which details what young people would like to learn about at school.

Lesson one: taxes, skills and bills

Many young people feel that money management and finance should be taught in school.

‘Finance, housing, general life lessons – it prepares us for life as an adult’

We feel that it does not get taught enough when you are young, so when you need it most people find managing money difficult. Some even start spending more than they have, and when they realise it’s too late, which in turn causes them mental health issues because they don’t know how to deal with the debts.

Lesson two: healthy relationships and peer pressure

More lessons on communication, trust, safe consented sex, freedom in a relationship and friendship including warning signs of abuse are important and part of life.

‘A lot of people don’t realise the difference between toxic and healthy relationships’

When young people are in high school, they are more likely to get into relationships and also build friendships. We need to know key information for the future and signs for when a relationship is not healthy.

Lesson three: politics and law

Many young people want to better understand the decisions that will affect them.  

‘issues being discussed at present are the ones that affect our generation the most’ 

When it comes to voting, we know there is a low turnout among young people eligible to vote. We think it is because young people do not understand the different levels of politics from local to national government, who is responsible for what, and how local and national decisions are made in the political arenas.

Lesson four: sign language

It’s important basic sign language is taught as part of the national curriculum and offered as a GCSE option alongside other languages.

‘everyone should be treated equally, including deaf people’

It helps equality and avoids loneliness, poor mental health, and depression. People with hearing impairments can feel isolated and can’t speak with everyone. It’s about making them feel as though they are going to fit in.

Life lessons from young people

With all these lessons, the young people noted the importance of teaching them in a fun and relatable way. For example, using soaps and dramas to talk about healthy relationships.

For a closer look at what these young people thought, read their Life Lessons booklet and discuss their recommendations with decision makers and other young people. 


By Kaja Zuvac-Graves

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