Principles and Purpose of PSHE Curriculum
In keeping with Bristol Cathedral Choir School’s overarching core values of kindness, courage and hope, all students are encouraged to discover the best and most authentic versions of themselves, through Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEe). Not only does the programme of study provide valuable substantive knowledge, it also allows students the space to stop and reflect upon what matters to them individually; morally and ethically. Implicitly throughout the curriculum we develop students' sense of responsibility, resilience, respect, risk, reward and ability to reflect - these concepts become tools with which to imagine change. They enable students to theorise possibility and think the unthought (Wheelahan, 2010) - to challenge, rethink and create.
The evidence shows that PSHE education can improve the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of pupils. A virtuous cycle can be achieved, whereby pupils with better health and wellbeing can achieve better academically. It is well established that students feeling healthy and happy will have a positive impact on their behaviour for learning and so, the impact of student engagement with the PSHEe curriculum should be felt across the whole school in its potential to remove barriers to learning. We hope for this to translate to greater success in life and work in modern Britain and as global citizens. Educating students on the themes of Healthy lifestyles, Relationships and Living in the wider world is crucial in supporting them as they navigate adolescence and for independence in adulthood.
Why this, why now?
In 2019 the Department for Education deemed much of what comes under the PSHEe umbrella to be of such importance that it should become a statutory requirement for all students in all schools in England have access to this vital learning. A concise summary of what this entails can be found here and a more detailed account, here (Primary p.32 Secondary page 36).
The PSHE Education curriculum offers a chance to give every young person an equal opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge they need to thrive now and in the future. The programme of study from year 7-13 follows a spiral curriculum that builds cumulative knowledge while delivering age appropriate content - This is in line with recommendations from the PSHE Association and in keeping with the statutory guidance from the Department of Education.
At BCCS, we have also conducted extensive student voice (over 600 students) to gain insight into what issues affect our student body and when. We have detailed information about each year groups’ health related behaviours and where they require vital substantiation knowledge signposting to support. To address the issues affecting young people the PSHEe curriculum must be dynamic so as a school we are ‘alive’ to arising issues that have the potential to be explored during lesson times, in assemblies and tutor time - student voice plays an important an important role in this too.
Teaching the PSHE Curriculum
The PSHEe (and RSE) programme is led by Ms Mia Helmich, who provides a quality assured sequence of lesson resources for each year group to teaching staff to ensure consistent teaching. Ms Helmich is an experienced teacher of PSHEe and has attended and delivered a wealth of training over the last 9 years.
Subject matter will be taught sensitively by trained practitioners who have students' safety in mind. All PSHEe teachers receive training on PSHEe, RSE, statutory requirements, appropriate teaching methods and safeguarding. Heads of year, tutors and the SEND department are aware of the topics covered in PSHEe so they are able to further support students who may benefit from additional support or guidance in unpacking the taught content. PSHEe teachers create a safe space with a set of bespoke and thoughtful classroom rules, collaboratively designed by student and teacher. These clear ‘ground rules’ and a no-confidentiality policy that is understood by all (adults and children) are important elements of creating this safe learning environment. PSHEe teaches that ‘acceptance’ should be the goal of everyone who is part of our diverse society; we will not make assumptions or judgements about people’s values, attitudes, behaviours, identity, life experiences or feelings. Students will be made aware that it is our differences that contribute to the rich tapestry of a society in which we live.
Assessing the PSHE Curriculum
Assessment in PSHEe is to test whether students have the tools and information to make healthy and safe decisions. 10 minute tests’ which are multiple choice end of topic assessments are undertaken by all students each full. This is for personal development reasons as well as safeguarding. Any low concerning scores (below 80%) will be revisited and any safeguarding concerned raised with the Designated Safeguarding Lead (Steve Fuller) Teachers will also give feedback on one piece of extended writing per topic. At BCCS we use a read and respond (RAR) format which opens a lengthier written dialogue between student and teacher; these pieces can be used to assess literacy, content knowledge and use of evidence to support opinion . This is in addition to formative assessment through questioning, live marking and verbal feedback which are features of almost all lessons at BCCS.
Progression in the PSHE Curriculum
A successful programme of study in PSHEe is one that will help young people learn to respect themselves and others and move with confidence from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. PSHEe will give students the knowledge, language and confidence to work through issues, protect and assert themselves in a range of everyday or challenging situations. Ultimately, We hope to have created a curriculum through which we can celebrate our diversity through rigorous discussion and intentionally challenging activities. Students should leave BCCS well informed about a range of perspectives and should be well equipped to make decisions for themselves about how to live their own lives, whilst respecting the right of others to make their own decisions and hold their own beliefs.
Through a spiral curriculum, students build cumulative knowledge of three key themes:
1) Health + Wellbeing
2) Relationships + Sex Education
3) Living in the wider world.
The KS3 curriculum focuses on increasing independence on entering secondary school, building to creating a strong sense of self. The KS4 curriculum builds in this but factors in the increasing amount of choice young people are faced in their relationships, social situations and as part of the wider community.