Preparing for effective delivery of the new PSHE requirements
Sam Lock from Saffron Walden County High School reports on preparing to deliver the new PSHE curriculum content, as part of her CTSN/UCL IoE 'How do we know it works? Leading Change' project.
I wanted to find the best possible way to prepare staff for teaching the new PSHE curriculum content. This was something that needed addressing based on the feedback from staff and student surveys where we had negative comments from staff about training and time given to deliver PSHE and from students saying they did not value it as it was being delivered during registration once a week.
The delivery of PSHE at Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS) had been once a week during registration for all year groups, with timetable collapses for external providers. When I applied for the PSHE Coordinator position, we discussed the possibility of having a timetabled lesson and it was agreed that Year 7 students would have one lesson per (fortnightly) cycle. This timetabled lesson was taught as a carousel with a specialist team of PSHE teachers. The carousel was divided into Careers, Mindfulness, Healthy Living, SMSC and RSE and the staff team was made up of members of SLT or senior staff with additional responsibilities.
I felt it was important that PSHE was given the same level of respect as other lessons and so we provided exercise books for all Year 7 and 8 students and folders for the upper year groups. These have been monitored during book checks to ensure that students are all completing progress charts and keeping their notes complete and well presented. PSHE has a marking policy to highlight the need for consistency, particularly with the carousel model of teaching.
In order to get a student perspective on the current PSHE provision, I met with Student Voice representatives from a range of year groups and it was interesting to see how the Year 7 students perceived the subject in comparison to older year groups. The younger students felt it was an important subject as it was taught by senior staff. They also fed back that they enjoyed the variety of content and teaching styles they had experienced and felt it was an important subject. This was in contrast to the older students who did not feel that the school valued the subject as it was squeezed into form time in the same way as planner signing.
Based on the success of the Year 7 model, this year we have been able to add timetabled lessons to other year groups and now provide two lessons per cycle for Year 7 and one lesson per cycle for Years 8 and 9. Year 10 and 11 PSHE is currently still delivered in registration with timetable collapses for external providers. This has increased our team of specialist teachers and enabled us to bring in the YACs for those specific year groups who now teach every student in their cohort over the academic year. We have carried over the confidence and progress charts for each unit to highlight student progress and also included these in the KS5 topics.
The feedback we have had has been positive from the students, the teaching team and from parents. Parents have access to the PSHE curriculum on the school website, in all student planners and they are emailed at the start of the year or termly, depending on the year group. We have a group of parents who wish to be actively involved in our PSHE provision and we hope to meet with them once the restrictions are lifted.
Through a survey and panel with students with SEND, we found that the engagement and understanding of content had been extremely low. This academic year, we have worked with a small team of LSAs to create differentiated resources for all our PSHE units from Year 7-11. Based on feedback from staff, we have now created in-house training presentations, regular after school training slots and have organised external providers to help equip form tutors to deliver PSHE to the older students. There is now an open policy that any form tutor can get cover for any session they do not wish to deliver, and training is delivered during Year Team meetings. This has been done in person and via Zoom.
The PSHE Association research has been central in our decisions on how best to structure and deliver PSHE at SWCHS. Their study PSHE education, pupil wellbeing and safety at school highlighted the positive impact good quality PSHE education can have on personal and social skills alongside feelings of belonging and strong relationships at school. This research encouraged me to involve students in our decisions through surveys, student panels, Student Voice and by listening to our LGBTQ+ and Diversity Allies when creating the teaching resources.
Alongside this, I have been using the How outstanding PSHE education contributes to 'Outstanding' Ofsted judgements research as a guide to ensure that our PSHE department meets both the needs of our students and the expectations of Ofsted. As a result, we are collaborating with local organisations to ensure that we deliver PSHE that is relevant to our local community alongside the government required PSHE curriculum.
This year we have been focusing on working collaboratively within the school and next year we would like to work with a greater range of external providers, particularly for our older students to encourage engagement and due to the content of our KS4 units. We would also like to increase parental engagement to encourage greater discussion outside the classroom. This work has started with a signposting document being sent to all members of the SWCHS community and the start of a parent/carer focus group and we hope to build on this.
About the author
Sam Lock is PSHE Co-ordinator at Saffron Walden County High School, where she has worked for many years in a variety of different roles. She is passionate about inclusion and is working hard to ensure that all members of the school community feel respected and celebrated. Sam participated in the CTSN/UCL Institute of Education 'How do we know it works? Leading Change' project in 2019-2021.