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National Curriculum

Personal wellbeing key stage 3 - Programme of study

Non-statutory content

Programme of study for key stage 3

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Download the full programme of study [pdf 1mb]

The programme of learning is made up of:

Importance of Personal wellbeing key stage 3

Personal wellbeing helps young people embrace change, feel positive about who they are and enjoy healthy, safe, responsible and fulfilled lives. Through active learning opportunities pupils recognise and manage risk, take increasing responsibility for themselves, their choices and behaviours and make positive contributions to their families, schools and communities.

As pupils learn to recognise, develop and communicate their qualities, skills and attitudes, they build knowledge, confidence and self-esteem and make the most of their abilities. As they explore similarities and differences between people and discuss social and moral dilemmas, they learn to deal with challenges and accommodate diversity in all its forms. The world is full of complex and sometimes conflicting values. Personal wellbeing helps pupils explore this complexity and reflect on and clarify their own values and attitudes. They identify and articulate feelings and emotions, learn to manage new or difficult situations positively and form and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of people. Personal wellbeing makes a major contribution to the promotion of personal development.

Explanatory text

Personal wellbeing: The personal development of pupils is a vital part of the key stage 3 curriculum. This non-statutory programme of study for  personal wellbeing is intended to support schools in developing coherent whole-school approaches to personal, social, health and economic wellbeing (PSHE). It provides a context for schools to fulfil their legal responsibilities to promote the wellbeing of pupils and provide sex and relationships and drugs education. It also provides schools with an opportunity to focus on delivery of the skills identified in the framework for Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL). The presentation and headings of this programme of study are the same as the programmes of study for other subjects to support cross-curricular planning.

The programme of study replaces the non-statutory framework for personal, social and health education. The content is based on the Every Child Matters outcomes and on the government’s guidance on sex and relationships education.

Personal development: Personal wellbeing makes a significant contribution to young people’s personal development and character. It creates a focus on the social and emotional aspects of effective learning, such as self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills. These five aspects of learning, identified within the SEAL framework, make an important contribution to personal wellbeing. Evidence of this, drawn from personal wellbeing provision, can contribute to schools’ self-evaluation forms.

Key concepts of Personal wellbeing key stage 3

There are a number of key concepts that underpin the study of personal wellbeing. Pupils need to understand these concepts in order to deepen and broaden their knowledge, skills and understanding.

1.1 Personal identities

  1. Understanding that identity is affected by a range of factors, including a positive sense of self

  2. Recognising that the way in which personal qualities, attitudes, skills and achievements are evaluated affects confidence and self-esteem

  3. Understanding that self-esteem can change with personal circumstances, such as those associated with family and friendships, achievements and employment.

1.2 Healthy lifestyles

  1. Recognising that healthy lifestyles, and the wellbeing of self and others, depend on information and making responsible choices

  2. Understanding that physical, mental, sexual and emotional health affect our ability to lead fulfilling lives, and that there is help and support available when they are threatened

  3. Dealing with growth and change as normal parts of growing up.

1.3 Risk

  1. Understanding risk in both positive and negative terms and understanding that individuals need to manage risk to themselves and others in a range of situations

  2. Appreciating that pressure can be used positively or negatively to influence others in situations involving risk

  3. Developing the confidence to try new ideas and face challenges safely, individually and in groups.

1.4 Relationships

  1. Understanding that relationships affect everything we do in our lives and that relationship skills have to be learnt and practised

  2. Understanding that people have multiple roles and responsibilities in society and that making positive relationships and contributing to groups, teams and communities is important

  3. Understanding that relationships can cause strong feelings and emotions.

1.5 Diversity

  1. Appreciating that, in our communities, there are similarities as well as differences between people of different race, religion, culture, ability or disability, gender, age or sexual orientation

  2. Understanding that all forms of prejudice and discrimination must be challenged at every level in our lives.

Explanatory text

Personal identities: Understanding the factors that contribute to personal identities is essential if pupils are to accept and value themselves and develop confidence and self-esteem, maintain their mental/emotional health, make the most of their attributes and abilities, and celebrate achievements. Links can be made with citizenship and religious education when pupils address the key concepts of identities and diversity, which require understanding to be further developed in a local, national and global context.

Healthy lifestyles: A person’s ability to stay healthy is affected by physical, mental, emotional, social, environmental and economic circumstances. Pupils should learn that they need to make informed decisions about behaviours and consider the short- and long-term consequences of their actions on themselves and others.

Risk: Risk is an important part of everyday life. Having the confidence to take risks is essential to enjoying and achieving in learning and life. However, the ability to recognise, assess and manage risk is essential to physical safety and mental and emotional wellbeing. The concept of risk is also relevant to financial capability, enterprise and career choices, so links should be made to economic wellbeing and financial capability.

Relationships: The ability to develop relationships with a wide range of people is essential to being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, being able to make a positive contribution to society and achieving economic wellbeing.

Feelings and emotions: The National Healthy Schools Programme (emotional health and wellbeing theme) requires that ‘the school has clear, planned opportunities for pupils to understand and explore feelings using appropriate learning and teaching styles’. The SEAL programme, which develops pupils’ social skills and emotional resilience, can help schools cover the emotional health and wellbeing theme within the Healthy Schools Programme. The SEAL programme is used in many primary schools and began to be introduced in secondary schools from September 2007.

Diversity: This concept links with both personal identities and relationships. When pupils consider their attitude and behaviour towards diversity, they should identify similarities as well as differences between people. Learning to empathise with others helps pupils accommodate difference in their lives and accept their responsibility to challenge prejudice and discrimination wherever it is encountered.

Key processes of Personal wellbeing key stage 3

These are the essential skills and processes in personal wellbeing that pupils need to learn to make progress.

2.1 Critical reflection

Pupils should be able to:

  1. reflect critically on their own and others’ values

  2. reflect on personal strengths, achievements and areas for development

  3. recognise how others see them and give and receive feedback

  4. identify and use strategies for setting and meeting personal targets in order to increase motivation

  5. reflect on feelings and identify positive ways of understanding, managing and expressing strong emotions and challenging behaviour

  6. develop self-awareness by reflecting critically on their behaviour and its impact on others.

2.2 Decision-making and managing risk

Pupils should be able to:

  1. use knowledge and understanding to make informed choices about safety, health and wellbeing

  2. find information and support from a variety of sources

  3. assess and manage the element of risk in personal choices and situations

  4. use strategies for resisting unhelpful peer influence and pressure

  5. know when and how to get help

  6. identify how managing feelings and emotions effectively supports decision-making and risk management.

2.3 Developing relationships and working with others

Pupils should be able to:

  1. use social skills to build and maintain a range of positive relationships

  2. use the social skill of negotiation within relationships, recognising their rights and responsibilities and that their actions have consequences

  3. use the social skills of communication, negotiation, assertiveness and collaboration

  4. value differences between people and demonstrate empathy and a willingness to learn about people different from themselves

  5. challenge prejudice and discrimination assertively.

Explanatory text

Skills and processes: The SEAL skills have much in common with these key processes, and much of the language is similar. For example, the SEAL skills of self-awareness and managing feelings are important for critical reflection; motivation is an important dimension of decision-making; and empathy, social skills and managing feelings are required for developing relationships and working with others. Schools will wish to plan use of the SEAL materials and their teaching of the personal wellbeing programme of study so that pupils have a coherent learning experience.

Critical reflection: This involves asking probing questions such as ‘How do I know that information is accurate?’, ‘What does it tell me about choices I should make?’, ‘How could I behave differently?’ and ‘What is the impact of my behaviour on others?’. Critical reflection can also help pupils develop self-awareness, enabling them to use their knowledge and experience of how they think and feel to choose their behaviour, plan their learning and build positive relationships.

Values: There are many complex and often conflicting values in society, and the exploration of these and clarification of personal values is an important part of personal wellbeing.

Strengths, achievements and areas for development: This links closely with learning for economic wellbeing and financial capability. Care should be taken to avoid repetition. This could include understanding motivation, viewing errors as part of the normal learning process and responding positively to disappointment or failure.

Positive ways of understanding: This includes pupils predicting what makes them angry or upset, and realising when feelings are ‘taking over’.

Decision-making and managing risk: This involves finding and using accurate information, weighing up the options and identifying the risks and consequences of each option in order to make an informed choice. These skills can be applied to most situations, including those that involve issues relating to health, personal safety, relationships, personal and social change, leisure and learning opportunities. The ability to assess risk and consequences is particularly important when pupils are learning outside the classroom.

Developing relationships and working with others: Social and emotional aspects of learning are important for personal and social development and for challenging inappropriate behaviour safely. This includes the ability to listen actively, empathise and understand the consequences of aggressive, passive and assertive behaviour in relationships.

Negotiation: This could include using a range of strategies to solve problems and resolve conflicts, for example using mediation to settle a dispute.


Range and content of Personal wellbeing key stage 3

This section outlines the breadth of the subject on which teachers should draw when teaching the key concepts and key processes.

The study of personal wellbeing should include:

  1. examples of diverse values encountered in society and the clarification of personal values

  2. the knowledge and skills needed for setting realistic targets and personal goals

  3. physical and emotional change and puberty

  4. sexual activity, human reproduction, contraception, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections and HIV and how high-risk behaviours affect the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities

  5. facts and laws about drug, alcohol and tobacco use and misuse, and the personal and social consequences of misuse for themselves and others

  6. how a balanced diet and making choices for being healthy contribute to personal wellbeing, and the importance of balance between work, leisure and exercise

  7. ways of recognising and reducing risk, minimising harm and getting help in emergency and risky situations

  8. a knowledge of basic first aid

  9. the features of positive and stable relationships, how to deal with a breakdown in a relationship and the effects of loss and bereavement

  10. different types of relationships, including those within families and between older and young people, boys and girls, and people of the same sex, including civil partnerships

  11. the nature and importance of marriage and of stable relationships for family life and bringing up children

  12. the roles and responsibilities of parents, carers and children in families

  13. the similarities, differences and diversity among people of different race, culture, ability, disability, gender, age and sexual orientation and the impact of prejudice, bullying, discrimination and racism on individuals and communities.

Explanatory text

Sexual activity: When planning work in relation to sexual activity, it is helpful to consider national and local data on sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies.

High-risk behaviours: This includes risks associated with early sexual activity and links with work on drug use and misuse. Links could be made with citizenship on the impact of HIV/AIDS on whole communities/countries. This could also include other behaviours such as gambling.

Drug, alcohol and tobacco use and misuse: This should include medicines, alcohol, tobacco, volatile substances and illegal drugs. When planning work in relation to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, it is helpful to consider national and local data on their use and misuse as well as changes in legislation. This helps both planning and provision.

Diet: When learning about diet, links should be made with initiatives such as Food in Schools and with the National Healthy Schools Programme theme of healthy eating.

Balance between work, leisure and exercise: When teaching about the balance between work, leisure and exercise, links should be made with PE and the PE and School Sport initiative. Links should be made with the National Healthy Schools Programme theme of physical activity.

Emergency and risky situations: Organisations such as the Red Cross and St John Ambulance have information about first aid and dealing with emergencies and situations involving risk.

Relationships: This includes features of friendships and dealing with breakdown in friendships. In discussing positive relationships, the negative aspects of some relationships, including use of violence and other forms of abuse, may arise and should be addressed.

Children: This could include children as carers, children at risk and looked-after children.

Impact of prejudice, bullying, discrimination and racism: Links should be made with the school’s anti-bullying policy, including the importance of challenging homophobic bullying, compliance with the Race Relations Amendment Act and the requirement for schools to promote community/social cohesion.

Curriculum opportunities of Personal wellbeing key stage 3

During the key stage pupils should be offered the following opportunities that are integral to their learning and enhance their engagement with the concepts, processes and content of the subject.

The curriculum should provide opportunities for pupils to:

  1. make real choices and decisions based on accurate information obtained through their own research using a range of sources, including the internet, other media sources and visits/visitors to and people from the wider community

  2. meet and work with people from the wider community both in school and through external visits

  3. use case studies, simulations, scenarios and drama to explore personal and social issues and have time to reflect on them in relation to their own lives and behaviour

  4. take part in individual and group discussion to consider personal, social and moral dilemmas and the choices and decisions relating to them

  5. work as members of groups and teams, taking on different roles and responsibilities

  6. evaluate their own personal development and learning, set realistic targets and goals for future life choices and develop strategies for meeting them

  7. identify sources of help and support and take responsibility for providing accurate information to others

  8. make links between personal wellbeing and work in other subjects and areas of the curriculum and out-of-school activities.

Explanatory text

The internet and other media sources: Pupils should have opportunities to research, interpret and use a wide range of sources of information to inform their decision-making. This includes looking at the ways in which different media portray young people and health and social issues and present a balanced or partial view of issues. Internet safety should be addressed explicitly.

Visits/visitors: When planning visits or inviting external contributors to the classroom, it is important that the input is part of the overall planned learning objectives and that the messages are compatible with the school’s values and policies.

People from the wider community: For example, community health professionals and drug advisers.

Case studies, simulations, scenarios and drama: These could be used as distancing techniques. They allow issues that are very sensitive and that may impact on young people personally to be explored and discussed without reference to young people’s lives and family circumstances.

Social and moral dilemmas: Effective personal wellbeing teaching requires regular exploration of social and moral dilemmas that may be relevant to young people as they grow up. Pupils will need to learn skills and ground rules to ensure work is carried out showing sensitivity to those who may be affected by such issues.

Sources of help: These include national organisations such as Relate, FPA, Brooke, RoSPA, Childline, ‘Talk to Frank’ and many more, including local services. These organisations can also provide information about helpful websites.

Links between personal wellbeing and work in other subjects and areas of the curriculum: There are many ways in which links can be made between work in personal wellbeing and other subjects and areas of the curriculum. Examples include linking work on sex and relationships, drugs, alcohol and tobacco with work in science; and linking diversity, prejudice and discrimination with work in citizenship, history and RE. It is important that links are planned and coordinated and that young people have time to reflect on the sum of their experiences in order to maximise their learning and its impact on their lives.

SEAL, and similar personal development frameworks, are designed to be used across the whole curriculum. While they have a particular contribution to make to personal wellbeing, their use should not be limited to these programmes of study, but should extend across all subjects and areas of the curriculum and across the school day.


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