A Public Health Disaster in Austria

In 2015 Austria passed a law, like in most EU countries, to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. The law as supposed to be implemented from May this year but the new conservative Austrian government have just scrapped the plans causing outrage from the medical profession.

Dr Manfred Neuberger, professor emeritus at the Medical University of Vienna, says, “The decision is irresponsible. It was a victory for the tobacco industry. The new government made Austria into the ashtray of Europe.”

He’s not far wrong. A survey of 26 countries by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2013 said Austria had the highest smoking prevalence of children aged 15, a position it held since 1994.

Dr Thomas Szekeres, the head of the Austrian and Vienna Chamber of Physicians is baffled by the government’s move, “We know smoking causes severe heart attacks, cancer and we know that in countries where smoking is not allowed in restaurants and bars, employees are protected and the whole population turned out to be healthier.”

In PSHCE lessons at school we talk not only about the health risks of smoking but also its effects on the whole of society.

The annual costs of smoking to wider society


With all these horrific facts about smoking you do start to wonder why people are foolish enough to start in the first place. Some people still see smoking as enjoyable, and a social activity.  However, it is never too late to quit.

Quitting the cigarettes will help you

The New-Look Britain in Photographs

I like any opportunity to learn more and gain better knowledge about the world. But sometimes you’re just too tired to read an article or book, to watch a documentary, film or TV programme. That’s why photographs with their visual beauty and short written explanations are a quick way to pick up some knowledge. Often at the Southbank Centre in London you can catch a free photography exhibition or likewise for a fee you can catch a more thorough exhibition such as that at the Hayward Gallery later this month. Some of Andreas Gursky’s photographs that you’ll see at the Hayward Gallery are shown below:



Not only can you enjoy the art but you will consider political, social, economic and environmental issues. Simon Roberts, a landscape photographer and official general election artist, has a wonderful series of photographs which show you what he calls a ‘new-look’ Britain. You can learn about local celebrations and festivals which you’d probably never know about unless you lived in that town or village, as well as how Britain’s landscape is often shown in a particular light which only tells part of the story.

We English

And if the social, political, economic and environmental ideas don’t spring forth then at least you can learn how to take a better photograph!

Family Feud by Jay-Z featuring Beyonce

In December Jay-Z dropped the 8 minute video for his song Family Feud. About half way through the video it shows him walking into a Catholic church with his real-life daughter, rapping away—”Nobody wins when the family feuds”. It is a dramatic music video with a huge storyline at the start before Jay-Z starts his song.

There is some swearing in the song.

For us in Religious Studies it offers us some learning opportunities:

  • the song is about adultery and the importance of family
  • the scenes inside what looks like a catholic church let us see pews, stained glass windows, the cross, pulpit and confessional booth
  • Jay-Z asks Beyonce for forgiveness (“can get Amen from the congregation?”) and she gives him redemption by singing “Amen”

With Jay-Z inside a supposed Catholic Church what would those with that faith say about his admitted infidelities?

sex and marriage

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery Coloring Page Ten Commandments

The first part of the video is also interesting from a PSHCE angle too:

  • the start of the video has the year 2444 and the monarchy is in distress with the head of the family dealing with an upset and jealous brother.
  • when the queen is helped by her boyfriend, “Is that good enough for you?” she shows her own power by silently stabbing him in the back with a knife saying, “It’s my throne.”
  • there are co-presidents who are black and native American which helps us imagine that one day there’ll be racial equality in the USA
  • eight women sit around a table and rewrite the constitution in the year 2050, with the narrator reminding us that this is “a time when some thought that making America great was making us afraid of each other” but in fact “America is a family and the whole family should be free”.


TV and Film to Watch this Christmas PART 2

After carefully reading the TV schedules I’ve spotted a few films and TV programmes which are being broadcast this holiday season which will aid your knowledge and understanding of topics we learn in Religious Studies and PSHCE…

Saturday 23rd December

  • Cool Runnings – BBC1, 13:15-14:50 (prejudice, stereotypes, heroism)
  • Gladiator – Channel 4, 23:20- 02:10 (Roman Empire, punishment)

Sunday 24th December

  • Das Boot – History, 16:00-18:00 – (War, World War II)

Monday 25th December

  • Downfall – History, 13:00-16:00 (War, World War II)
  • Dambusters – ITV, 01:45 – 03:50 (War, World War II)

Tuesday 26h December

Wednesday 27th December

  • Bears (a documentary)- Channel 2, 07:55-09:10 (environment)
  • East is East – Channel 4, 23:05-00:50 (multiculturalism, racism, homosexuality, community, Muslim wedding)

Thursday 28th December

  • About a Boy – Channel 4, 23:05 – 00:55 (family, mental health, suicide, bullying)

Friday 29th December

  • Brave – BBC 1, 16:20-17:45 (gender equality)
  • The Green Mile – More4, 21:00-00:45 (prison)

Sunday 31st December

Monday 1st January 2018

  • Ice Age: the Meltdown – Channel 4, 15:35-17:20 (global warming, environment)
  • Noah – BBC 2, 22:00-00:10 (Bible story, The Deluge, covenant with God)

Wednesday 3rd January


Mari Oliver from Texas is Suing Her School

Mari Oliver is 17 years old and is suing her school for reprimanding her when she chooses not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance (to the USA).

texas Sue

It sounds like Mari Oliver is annoyed that certain human rights from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (udhr_booklet_en_web) are being denied to African Americans in the USA:

Article 7 – All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 10 – Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 18 –  Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance

Can you think of any more human rights which are being denied?

21 year old gets final birthday flowers from her dad who died of cancer when she was 16

The BBC reports on an emotional story of how a 21 year old called Bailey Seller has received her last bouquet flowers from her dad who died five years ago from cancer and had pre-paid for her to received flowers until she hit 21 years old. With the flowers she’s also been receiving a handwritten note which this year said: “I will still be with you with every milestone, just look around and there I will be.”


Bereavement is the time we spend adjusting to loss. There is no standard time limit and there is no right or wrong way to feel during the bereavement period – everyone must learn to cope in their own way. We thought about this recently in our PSHCE lessons. It is a difficult but important topic to think about. The NHS provides lots of useful information on bereavement, and the Child Bereavement UK charity offers advice on how to speak to people who are bereaved.



18.4% the pay gap between men and women in the UK

10th November is ‘Equal Pay Day’ because from this day onwards until the end of the year  women work for free because of that difference in average pay between men and women of 18.4%. Some women to try and raise awareness of this pay difference have even set their email response to be ‘out of office’ until December 31st!

out of office

In North Thanet the pay gap is a bigger 20.9% so Natasha Ransom a self-employed gardener has set up an ‘out of office’ voicemail on her phone, explaining; “I’m doing it to support those on lower wages – I work for a lot of elderly people whose [female] carers are on such poor wages.”

pay gap around the country

There is even evidence that the pay gap in the UK is growing not getting smaller. This is especially true for young women where the pay gap for those in their 20s has grown from 1.1% in 2011 to 5.5% this year.

Closing the gender pay gap is about equality. It should matter to everyone. It could be you, your sister, best friend, cousin or mum. It’s just not fair and at least the 10th November puts a spotlight on this inequality.