At Windlesham we are delighted that PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) is enjoying the focus and recognition that it deserves and in the last five years we have progressed from conducting PSHE education within our tutor time to providing a weekly lesson for every child in the school.
This is in response to both Government recommendation and to our own recognition of the fundamental role that PSHE plays in the emotional development and wellbeing of our children.
We have developed a structured approach to our PSHE teaching with three main subject areas (relationships, health and well-being and living in the wider world) spiralling through the curriculum subjects which we revisit as our children progress through the school.
In relationships we look at a whole range of emotions that children experience in order to extend emotional vocabulary.
We talk about how to recognise how other people are feeling and how to respond to uncomfortable emotions and we practice strategies for dealing with our own emotions.
We explore the concepts of dares and keeping secrets and we take a long look at good mental health, culminating in the ones where we look at personal support networks, emotional well-being case studies of poor mental health with sessions on what we can do to improve these situations and ultimately resilience.
In health and well-being we look at empathy, feeling good about ourselves, loss and taking risks.
This can be from navigating a more independent life, to dares, to going outside your comfort zone to the risks commonly associated with adolescent behaviours.
We discuss discrimination, diversity, prejudice and tolerance and look at how our community acknowledges and embraces difference. We also look at tangible and intangible values and ask which make us happier.
In living in the wider world we take a look at human rights, how it might be to live as a child in another country.
We ask how the British legal system applies to us.
We look at the concept of charity and charitable organisations and also do work on money and finance and in the top three years we look at the world of work and entrepreneurship.
Our spiralling approach means that we might look at one subject in three different ways.
Take smoking for example; we may look at the health risks associated with smoking in health and well-being, peer pressure and how this affects our choices in relationships and the laws associated with smoking and young people in living in the wider world.
Our wish is to prepare our children as thoroughly as we can for life throughout their teens and beyond.
Both research and common sense tells us that using scare tactics in order to prepare our children for all the risks they might face in adolescence is both futile and counter-productive. Instead we aim to furnish our children with information and strategies and the emotional intelligence to make good decisions about what they do.
We talk about the physiology and the psychology of the adolescent brain and this helps our children to recognise why risk taking is fundamental to their development and a set of decisions to be considered very seriously.
Sex and Relationships Education (SRE)
We teach SRE within all year groups covering for example different kinds of positive relationships, how babies are made and born, puberty, how relationships change during adolescence, consent and contraception.
There is much research on the benefits of teaching the last two issues before they are needed; we don’t need to be overt, but we can equip our children with the idea that they have control over their own bodies early on and develop this as they get older.
We always teach all aspects of SRE in a sensitive and age-appropriate way, taking care to ascertain children’s prior knowledge before presenting a new subject.
Mindfulness is practised with several year groups. We find the tenets of mindfulness to be very conducive to our children’s emotional well-being and we hope that we will have given them some strategies to use both now and in later life.
We have also developed a curriculum for social and emotional learning in Year 8. The children will continue to practice some of the mindfulness meditations that they learnt in the twos and they will also look at some philosophical investigations.
We do a lot of public speaking and debating in school which is wonderful in that it encourages the children to have an idea and stick to it, offering many arguments for their viewpoint. The beauty of philosophical debate is that we are encouraged to change our opinions as we hear new evidence; a very important skill.
We also spend time investigating how we can look after ourselves in terms of how we learn, learning under pressure, keeping ourselves healthy in terms of what we eat and our sleep.
We end the year with a look at morality and practical wisdom; why are we good? Are we born good or is it something we learn (or not)? What’s in it for us?
We use a variety of informal assessment tools so that we can gauge the children’s level of knowledge and we also ask for feedback from the children so that we can keep our curriculum relevant and meaningful.
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