If I Was In Charge Of Education:

I've got a cup of tea in hand, David Bowie playing in my ears and I am revved up and ready of day 2 of the 100 Day Project!!! Today's post is inspired by the lovely Savannah Brown and a video she made on her channel a couple of weeks ago all about what would be taught in schools if she was in charge. I've linked the video here. I thought I'd offer my 2 cents on the subject for day 2 of the 100 Day Project. As we can probably all agree that our education system is no where near perfect, and what with exam season fast approaching (eeeek:0) I thought this would be a fairly topical thing to kick off the 100 day project with. And so, without further ado, here's what education would be like if I was in charge!

The first thing (and main thing) I would change about the curriculum is PSHCEE. Now, for those of you who don't go to school in England or who haven't been paying attention in class, this stands for Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship, Environmental Education (I'm pretty sure some schools have more / less letters than this or call it something different), but basically this is lesson in which we are supposed to be taught important things like sex ed, human rights, drugs and alcohol, the environment etc. Sounds brilliant, right? Except..... it kinds sucks. For most people this is the ultimate chat with your friends, chew gum at the back of the classroom fest, which yes I know, makes a nice change from trigonometry and fractions. But, this ultimately isn't helping anyone.

My overhaul of this subject would include introducing better sex ed, that is LGBT+ inclusive and gives people the real facts instead of spending 6 lessons labelling various genitalia before spending one extremely awkward lesson learning how to put a condom on a banana. I mean seriously guys, it shocks me how many people I come across who have NO IDEA how much of a big deal consent is, or that you can still get pregnant on your period. I also see this as a good opportunity to learn about sexuality and gender, it's all very well for teachers to seem to live in these little heterosexual, cisgender bubbles, but the likelihood is there is more than slight chance that there is someone LGBT+ in their class, and they deserve to get relevant information just like heterosexual and cisgender people do. I used to attend a very Christian school and once had a teacher tell the class that they were NOT ALLOWED to talk to us about gay sex due to parents complaints, despite the fact that not 10 minutes earlier we had had the full rundown on straight sex, EXCUSE ME WHERE DID YOUR LOGIC GO??????  The government has a duty to us young people to educate us properly, and on this front it certainly isn't being met.

Ok, as you can tell that is something I'm particularly passionate about, I may even revisit it at a later date. However, the next thing I would introduce is compulsory political education, which is equally as important. I see this as making sure all students have a basic understanding of the different political parties and their main policies, as well as knowing how the voting system works and the arguments for and against changing the voting system to Proportional Representation. I hope this would encourage more young people to understand how politics affect our lives and hopefully more young people turning out to vote at General and Local elections, as only around 60% of 18-25 year olds voted last year. I also believe that If we were ever to lower the voting age to 16, this would without a shadow of doubt be especially important.

In school I think it would be really cool and refreshing to have a unit about the internet as it plays such a massive part in almost every young persons life. I really think schools should step away from the generic 'don't do anything of the internet ever because everyone's out to get you' approach. Although I cannot stress how important internet-safety is, (sorry if I sound like your ICT teacher), as the first generation to've grown up on the internet I think exploring questions such 'how is social media is changing how we live' or 'does the internet really make us happy' could be interesting and relevant.

As for actual subjects, the other main thing I would like to see introduced better economics education. I believe all students should leave school with at least some understanding of how money works, as despite what we might want to think, money does (at least in part) make the world go round.. This could elevate so much of the confusion and stress that comes with becoming financially dependant on yourself for the first time. You should know where you can go for advice and help when it comes to money, as well as basic things like learning about different taxes and bills you will have to pay as you go through life. It would also be helpful to have information about budgeting and saving money too.

Now, my final few points are all about mental health. The stigma surrounding mental health is HUGE and with more and more young people being diagnosed with mental health issues it's super important schools know how to help students who have mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or eating disorders. If every school had assemblies on mental health, and if every student knew where they could go to access help or advice surrounding mental health, this could help dramatically improve the stigma surrounding mental health. This would also come in conjunction with a serious look at how the pressure surrounding exams affects young people's mental health. Exams are one of the main events in any teenagers life, and there is a direct correlation between exams becoming more demanding and a deterioration of mental health that should be addressed.

Basically, there is a crap ton of stuff that I would love to change about what is taught in our schools. Hopefully someday we will start to see some of these things become a reality and just to let you know in the unlikely event I ever find myself as the head of the department of education or the PM (dreaming big guys ;)), feel free to wave this post in my face and keep me accountable :) :) :)

Hope you enjoyed day 2 of the 100 day project, only 98 days to go!

Sarah xx

HAVE YOUR SAY - Anti Bullying

Hey everyone

Welcome back to the HAVE YOUR SAY series! I know, I haven't posted one of these in ages but today we are changing that with an article by the lovely Emily Foster, who came to a conference I ran all the way back in October. Here she talks about her experience and the amazing work she has got planned as a result of it! 

On the 12th October 2015 Anton, Ethan and I all attended the Dorset E-Safety and Anti-Bullying conference in Dorchester. We attended many workshops run by the police and the Dorset Youth Council. The aim of the conference was to help young people learn about bullying and different ways to help yourself and others cope if they were to be bullied. As only a few people from each school could attend, the aim was to take new ideas and information back to the school and tell the rest of the BOSS team to see if we could take any points into action.

One of the workshops we attended was run by the police and they explained what to do and who to tell if you're being bullied. They also informed us about when it is serious enough to inform the police. We discussed types of bullying (physical, racial etc) with different schools and talked about different ways to tackle each one.

Another workshop was working with the Dorset Youth Council called ‘It’s Okay To Tell’ and their focus was on the fact that speaking out against bullying was the only way to stop it. We started off with the basics, by talking about what bullying is and why it is wrong. We then wrote on a ‘graffiti wall’ ideas of how to deal with bullying. Everyone had different ideas about bullying but we all agreed that everything detail should be confidential and no one should take action without the victims consent. Then we talked about networks and people you could tell. We drew a stick figure with two circles around it and filled the inner circle with our closest connections (family, friends) and then filled the outer circle with other important people (teachers, police). The aim of this was to get everyone thinking about who they could tell. 

Overall the day was very good, we all learnt new things to take back to school and see if we could improve the our anti bullying group some more, to make it as effective as we can! 

By Emily Foster

Thank you Emily! Remember, if you want your post featured simply complete the form in the 'have your say' banner at the top of the page. Get writing! 

Sarah xx

Procrastination Station

I had big plans for today.

I was going to get up early and go for a run. I was going to make a start on a big Geography assignment that is due in 10 days time. I was going to spend the afternoon writing blog posts to make sure there would be plenty of content up on here in the coming weeks.

It's now 5:52 in the afternoon and have I done any of those things. Nope. I mean, yes, I've watched a whole season of Sherlock, read 5 chapters of Caitlyn Moran's book Moranthology and spent AT LEAST two hours on Pinterest. And although I'm not suggesting for a second that it is a complete waste of time to spend 4 1/2 hours staring at Benedict Cumberbatch's cheekbones, have I really done anything important. Nope.

Okay, I might technically be writing a blog post now, but trust me when I say that this is not the kind of quality content I had in mind. I just think it's kind of disheartening to think that I spend so much time actively doing things I know I don't need to be doing in order to avoid doing things I know I really do need to be doing.

Even as I sit at the kitchen table writing this, my phone lies half a metre to my left and the urge to stop typing and quickly check Twitter is almost painful. Do I actually need to check Twitter (especially when I know it's going to be awash with sickeningly cute couples. Thanks Valentines Day.)? No. Am I actually interested in what anyone has to say on there? No. Do I just want to avoid doing what I'm actually supposed to be doing, aka writing this? Yep.

I'm being serious. It's estimated that around 20% of people are chronic procrastinators (meaning they will find any excuse to not do the things they want / need to do), and I'll be the first to admit that I am probably one of them. For people like me who procrastinate a lot, it really can take over your whole life. You can give me two weeks to complete a task, and you can bet money on the fact it won't get done until the night before. It genuinely worries me that during the next few years I will be taking exams that will affect me for the rest of my life, when I know my work ethic is so bad.

I'm not 100% sure where I am going with this to be completely honest, except for the fact that I desperately need to improve the amount of time I spend procrastinating. I am a perfectionist, I want everything to be perfect all the time and that often stops me from doing the things I want to do with my time. If I'm being brutally honest, that is usually why there are so few posts up on here, I want every post to be amazing and even if I have what I think is a good idea it usually doesn't take me too long to talk myself out of doing it in the fear of whether it will be 'good enough'. One of my main problems is that the things I procrastinate over aren't even things I hate doing, they are things that I really do want to be doing.

I hope that this will be something I will get better at. It's all about realising that you've just got to get out there and do something. If you are reading this (1. well done for putting up with my completely nonsensical thoughts right now) try to do something (seriously, anything) today that you've been meaning to do for a while. Trust me you will feel a lot better about yourself afterwards.  

If you have any good tips to help stop my life (and maybe others' as well) from continuing to be a complete and utter procrastination station, then please leave them below. I could really do with some good advice. :)

Sarah xx                    

5 Goals For 2016


I know, it's been an age since I last posted anything on here, almost three months I think. But it's 2016  now and I think some new posts are in order! I don't know about you but I've got big plans for the year ahead, so I thought I would write down my 5 goals for 2016 on here, the internet, where I know I can be held accountable for them :).

These aren't new years resolutions as such, I'm the kind of person that doesn't really see the point in  waiting a whole year for Jan 1st in order to do something that will make you a better person. But in the spirit of the new year, here are 5 things I want to've done by December 31st 2016:

If you know me irl, you will know that not a single day goes by without me spending some time listening to music, I'm listening to music right now as it goes. In fact, according to Spotify I spent almost 45,000 minutes listening to music in 2015 which is CRAZY to think about! Anyway It has been a long term wish of mine to be able to play music myself, and as cheesy as it sounds I would love to be able to do covers of songs or even be in a band myself. Maybe that might be a goal for next year...

I've been running regularly for a year and a half now, and it might sound weird but it has changed my life so much. From not being able to run for 2 minutes without dying to running over 10k without stopping, I am a changed person on the exercise front (so all of you out there who've made your goal for 2016 to get fit, know that it is possible, and so so so worth it!:)). I've signed up to run the Race For Life 10k and I would love to be able to run it in under an hour, my current 10k PB is 1:10:11 so i've got quite a way to go, but hopefully I'll be able to achieve this one!

I've already started this one, but I hope to be able to further it this year by hopefully becoming a member of the UK Youth Parliament, which would be an incredible opportunity for me to represent other young people whilst working on my own campaigns. I've got some posts coming up soon about standing for election into Youth Parliament so if you're interested keep an eye out for those.

4. DONATE MY HAIR (again):
I first donated my hair just over a year ago when I got over a foot of my waist length hair cut off. I sent it off to an amazing charity called The Little Princess Trust who make wigs for children who have suffered hair loss due to cancer, alopecia, or other conditions. I think this is an amazing cause, and as my hair has grown a considerable amount I would love to donate again. This time I would also like to raise money for them as it costs them around £300 to produce a single wig and as they are a charity they rely solely on donations.

Don't laugh, if you have been following this blog for a while you will know how awful I am at updating regularly I am. However as I said, I do have plans for this blog especially getting more  posts submitted to the 'Have Your Say' column I run. If you are interested in guest posting on here then please see the banner at the top of the page (the 'Have Your Say' one). I've also sat here this afternoon and written about three blog posts in advance so I'll be able to keep this up for the first few weeks at least... :)

That concluded my list of things I want to achieve in 2016, and here's to an amazing year! Do you have any goals for 2016? If so please leave them in the comments below, and if you would like to see more of me then you can follow my social media accounts @sarahzsay on everything! Wishing you all a great year.

Sarah xx

Links to Charities / Organisations mentions incase you want to find out more about any of them! :)

UK Youth Parliament: http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk

Race For Life: http://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/index.html

The Little Princess Trust: http://www.littleprincesses.org.uk