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National Curriculum

Planning and assessment in personal wellbeing


Planning across the key stage

The revision of the key stage 4 programme of study provides an opportunity to review and refresh your sequences of work. When reviewing planning across the key stage, developing new sequences of work or revising existing ones, you should consider the following.

What are the opportunities to develop students’ experience of the key concepts?

Planning should ensure that the five key concepts – personal identities, healthy lifestyles, risk, relationships and diversity – are integrated into teaching and learning across the key stage. It is important to ensure that the opportunities to develop students’ experiences of the key concepts are clear. Understanding and skills related to each concept should be developed through concrete examples and that can be applied to real-life situations. Applying the concepts to different issues in a range of personal contexts will reinforce conceptual understanding.

How can planning ensure that students make progress in the key processes?

Planning should ensure that students make progress in the key processes across the key stage. As students revisit the key processes they should be increasingly challenged. This can be achieved by expanding the range and complexity of choices, decisions and issues presented to students and by enabling them to work with increasing independence. Planning should ensure that students develop their knowledge and understanding and extend and develop their skills and techniques in a widening range of contexts and situations.

Assessment should be a planned part of teaching and learning of personal wellbeing. It is about feeding back to students using a shared language in a way that will benefit all involved. Students should be given regular opportunities to assess their own learning and regular feedback on how to improve to enable them to progress and participate more fully in their learning. All planning and assessment opportunities should relate to the end of key stage statements for PSHE education.

How can you provide opportunities for students to engage with real audiences?

Students should be given every opportunity to apply their knowledge, skills and understanding in real-life situations within and beyond the classroom. They should use a range of sources such as the internet to research issues and communicate their findings to communities beyond the school. They should be given opportunities to meet and work with people from the wider community, through working with visitors to the school and visiting individuals and organisations. It is important that any input from visitors or visits is part of the overall planned learning objectives for a lesson or programme of work.

Continuity across the key stages

To make good progress students need continuity and opportunities for development across the key stages. To achieve this, curriculum planning at key stage 4 needs to:

  • build on and extend students’ achievements and experiences at key stage 3

  • provide students with a clear sense of how teaching and learning is helping them develop their knowledge, skills and understanding, and what they are aiming to achieve by the end of the key stage

  • prepare students for the demands of further study in the subject or the world of work.

Key stage 3

During key stage 3, students develop their knowledge, skills and understanding by tackling a more complex range of issues and situations related to their lives. They come from key stage 2 with experience of the SEAL framework, and continue to build on the social and emotional skills they have developed. They increasingly reflect on and evaluate their achievements and strengths in all areas of their lives in order to develop a positive sense of self-identity, and start to plan realistic targets and personal goals for key stage 4 and beyond.

Students gain more knowledge and understanding of how to stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy and use this knowledge to make informed and responsible choices to maintain their health and wellbeing. They continue to gain skills in assessing risk in situations that affect health and wellbeing, and may apply these skills to situations in their own lives. As part of a sex education programme they will learn about human reproduction, contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV and the physical and emotional changes of puberty. They learn about the facts and laws and the personal and social consequences around drug, alcohol and tobacco use and misuse, and about healthy diet and lifestyle.

Students recognise and respect difference and diversity, and demonstrate understanding and empathy towards others who live their lives in different ways. They develop skills to challenge prejudice and discrimination assertively. They use social skills to build and maintain a range of healthy and positive relationships, learning how to negotiate within relationships.

Key stage 4

During key stage 4 students have increasing autonomy and make more challenging decisions about their lifestyles. They use their skills to assess their personal qualities, skills and achievements and to set future goals for their lives and work. They reflect on how a positive sense of personal identity relates to healthy lifestyles and relationships. They explore in more depth personal assumptions about people different from themselves, and consider the relationship between power and prejudice. Exploring topical and real-life social and moral dilemmas provides a context for considering and re-evaluating personal values.

Students gain knowledge and understanding to identify some of the causes, symptoms and treatments of mental and emotional health disorders, such as stress and depression, and recognise the effects on individuals, families and communities. They identify strategies for preventing, addressing and managing these. They have skills to assess the risks and benefits associated with lifestyle choices, such as sexual activity or using alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs, and use these skills more independently in their own lives. They know how and where to seek professional health advice.

Students continue to develop appropriate and positive relationships with a range of adults, and use social skills to work individually, together or as part of a team. They continue to develop skills to manage relationships and apply social skills to new situations. They gain confidence in challenging offensive behaviour, prejudice and discrimination assertively and safely, and give support to others. They explore feelings and emotions related to changing relationships and develop skills to cope with loss and bereavement.

New opportunities

The revised programme of study offers you many opportunities to refresh and renew your curriculum, making it broader and more relevant in ways that will inspire and engage learners. Some of the key themes that underpin the revisions include:

A greater emphasis on health and wellbeing

The revised programme of study includes the key concepts of healthy lifestyles, risk, and relationships, which encourage students to make informed decisions about behaviours and consider the short- and long-term consequences on the health and wellbeing of themselves and others. It enables schools to deliver their legal responsibilities to promote the wellbeing of students and provide sex and relationships and drugs education. A person’s ability to stay healthy is affected by physical, mental, emotional, social and environmental factors, and includes their ability to recognise, assess and manage risk, and develop positive relationships with a wide range of people. The skills and knowledge to respond to and manage those factors can be developed and extended throughout personal wellbeing.

Increased focus on developing social and emotional skills

The SEAL programme, which develops students’ social skills and emotional resilience, is used in many primary schools and being introduced to secondary schools from September 2007. The revised programme of study for personal wellbeing emphasises the development of social and emotional skills such as negotiation and communication and the ability to understand and explore feelings and emotions in a positive and informed way, so enabling schools to deliver aspects of the SEAl programme. The SEAL skills also have much in common with the new key processes in personal wellbeing, and much of the language is similar. Social and emotional aspects of learning are important for personal and social development and for challenging inappropriate behaviour safely and appropriately.

A clearer structure for teaching knowledge, skills and understanding

Restructuring the non-statutory framework for PSHE into two programmes of study creates a clearer, more focused programme for teaching the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to maintain and develop personal wellbeing in relation to healthy lifestyles, relationships, personal identities, risk and diversity. It supports schools in developing coherent whole-school approaches to personal, social, emotional and economic wellbeing.

The revised programme of study puts concepts at the core, enabling schools to make strong connections between concepts, experiences and actions.

Making a significant contribution to personal development and the delivery of Every Child Matters outcomes

The revised programme of study is based on the Every Child Matters outcomes and therefore provides schools with clear opportunities to help deliver these. Personal development is a vital part of the key stage 3 curriculum and personal wellbeing has a distinctive contribution to make in this area. The programme of study provides opportunities to plan sequences of work, learning outcomes and teaching approaches that support personal development through the five Every Child Matters outcomes.

An outward-looking curriculum related to real life

The revised programme of study provides opportunities for students to relate the skills and understanding gained within personal wellbeing to their lives beyond the classroom and future situations in which they may find themselves. They can use safe situations such as role play, drama and case studies to explore and reflect on social issues and use these to consider real choices and decisions.

Students are given wide-ranging research opportunities, and opportunities to meet and work with people from the wider community within and beyond school. By developing their own personal identities and strengths, developing social skills, and learning how to respect diversity and difference and challenge prejudice and discrimination, they are better able to make valuable contributions to their schools, families and communities, both now and in their adult lives. Stronger and more coherent links can be made to other subjects in the curriculum, such as citizenship and RE, which require understanding to be developed in a local, national and global context.

Planning for inclusion

Planning an inclusive key stage 4 means thinking about shaping the curriculum to match the needs and interests of the full range of learners.

These include:

  • the gifted and talented

  • those with special educational needs and disabilities

  • students who have English as a second language

  • the different needs of boys and girls.

Students in the school will also bring a range of cultural experiences and perspectives, which can be reflected in the curriculum and used to further students' understanding of the importance of the issues of diversity.

An inclusive curriculum is one where:

  • different groups of students are all able to see the relevance of the curriculum to their own experiences and aspirations

  • all students, regardless of ability, have sufficient opportunities to succeed in their learning at the highest standard.

You may find that a useful starting point to planning for inclusion could be to consider your own school's Disability Action Plan, Race Equality Plan and other equality policies alongside a comprehensive overview of the data available on students from various groups. This can then be used to draw up a useful framework for curriculum review. You will also be able to identify appropriate points to involve learners themselves in some of these developments.

Support for assessment

Assessment is an essential part of normal teaching and learning in all subjects. It can take many forms and be used for a range of purposes. To be effective assessment must be ‘fit for purpose’; being clear about what you want the assessment to achieve will determine the nature of the assessment and what the outcome will be.

When planning assessment opportunities for PSHE education consider the following:

Purpose – What is the assessment for and how will it be used?

Does it form part of ongoing assessment for learning to provide individual feedback or targets so that the pupil knows what to do next? Is it to provide an overall judgement about how the pupil is progressing against the non-statutory end of key stage statements? Related to this is the need to consider how the purpose of assessment affects the frequency of assessment. For example, there should be sufficient time between assessed tasks to allow a pupil to show progress, whereas to be effective the assessment of ongoing work should be embedded in day-to-day teaching and learning.

Assessment in PSHE education is about measuring a pupil's knowledge, skills and progression through the subject. It is not about judging the worth, personality or values of an individual pupil or their family.

Evidence – What are the best ways to gather the evidence needed to support the purpose of the assessment?

Assessment shouldn’t be limited to written outcomes, and any meaningful judgement of progress or attainment should be based on a range of evidence. This could include assessing the learning as it’s happening through observation, discussion or focused questioning; involving pupils in the process through peer or self-assessment; or sampling a range of work over a period of time. If there are areas where you don’t have sufficient evidence you could either adjust your planning or use a more focused short task to fill the gap. The gathering of evidence also needs to be manageable. With care, the same evidence may be used for a variety of purposes.

Some examples of evidence might include a recording/transcript of a talk, presentation or role-play; teacher/peer observation of taking part and contributing to
discussions and debate; and a video of participation in role-play, simulations or a
health forum meeting. 

Outcome – What form will the assessment outcome take and how will it be used?

Depending on the purpose of the assessment the outcome could be set against the non-statutory end of key stage statements to judge progress over time or to give a specific and measurable improvement target for the pupil. Effective use of the assessment outcome results in actions such as providing an instant response or planning for the longer term. The best means of communicating assessment outcomes should also be considered. For example, it might be through written feedback or discussion. The outcome may also provide you with valuable information for your future planning, by identifying areas that need to be revisited by a class or individuals to secure understanding or by revealing gaps in curriculum coverage where there is no evidence of achievement in a particular area to assess.

Further guidance on gathering evidence, integrating assessment, periodic assessment and the role of tasks and tests can be found in the assessment section of the website.

Detailed guidance on ways to assess, record and report PSHE education can be found on the QCDA website.

Further guidance on day-to-day assessment and peer and self-assessment can be found under the assessment section of the website.

Quick links

See also

Here are some useful related resources:

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