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National Curriculum

A whole-school approach to personal development

A police officer sits with three key stage 3 pupils during circle time

Aim

To improve learners’ self-awareness and self-management, support them as members of communities and encourage them to develop a voice.

Action

Taking a coherent approach to personal development across the entire planned learning experience.

Impact

Learners with a greater sense of wellbeing and better prepared to develop their potential as healthy, enterprising and responsible citizens.

By planning personal development across all aspects of school life, Standish Community High School is promoting the wellbeing of all its learners.

Over 90 learners are trained as peer mentors and special groups are set up to support vulnerable learners – in the words of one year 8 pupil, ‘It’s like another family’  

In the past year the school has polled 96 teaching groups to find out learners’ perceptions

Standish Community High School places takes a holistic, whole-school approach to learners’ personal development. Learners have open access to a purpose-built pupil services centre, where they can seek support from specialists including careers advisers, a school-based police officer, education welfare officers and health professionals.

Two full-time mentors based in the centre support pastoral and teaching staff to ensure learners’ needs are met. Over 90 learners are trained as peer mentors and special groups are set up to support vulnerable learners – in the words of one year 8 pupil, ‘It’s like another family’. Direct support is offered through short courses on emotional intelligence, assertiveness, behaviour improvement, anger management and study skills.

Having seen the emphasis in the new secondary curriculum on planned provision for personal development to help learners achieve wellbeing, Standish decided to focus on:

  • improving its learners’ self-awareness and self-management
  • supporting them in developing as members of communities
  • encouraging them to develop a voice in learning and in the life and work of the school.

Self-awareness and self-management

Over 90 learners are trained as peer mentors and special groups are set up to support vulnerable learners – in the words of one year 8 pupil, ‘It’s like another family’  

Self-awareness and self-management now permeate all aspects of school life, from subjects and tutor time to behaviour policies and mealtimes. ‘Thought for the day’ is part of form tutor time and issues relating to self-awareness and self-management are built into weekly assemblies. Learners regularly help to organise community events and take part in enterprise activities, developing skills needed for working life. They then have opportunities to put these skills into practice through work-based learning provision, work experience and trial interviews with employers. Subject teachers actively promote learners’ development as independent enquirers, reflective learners, self-managers and creative thinkers. Regular music and drama performances offer opportunities for learners to demonstrate their potential and to achieve.

Self-awareness and self-management are particularly important in some subjects. For example, the PSHE education curriculum has a clear set of aims for each pupil:

  • to develop self-awareness
  • to develop coping strategies for real life
  • to emphasise the importance of individual responsibility
  • to enable pupils to transfer and generalise ideas across different contexts

Pupils’ views are taken into account when planning schemes of work, lessons and learning experiences. During their PSHE education programme of work, Year 7 pupils asked whether some of their sex and relationship education lessons could take place in single gender groups – this now occurs.

Physical education is another subject area that does much to promote self-awareness and self-management, offering learners opportunities to take on different roles, face challenges, make decisions and take responsibility for organising events. The school’s programme of outdoor and adventurous activities and residential trips promotes a spirit of adventure, while competitive activities and leadership opportunities develop teamwork and leadership skills.

Members of communities

All learners have the opportunity to represent their year group on the school council. Some learners are also members of the Standish Healthy Schools team, which carried out a survey and produced a DVD that is now being used to support Healthy Schools initiatives across the authority. Beyond school, learners take part in community projects linked to drama productions, fundraising musical competitions and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which is a strong element in school life.

Specialist status as a language college has resulted in a wide range of exchange visits and trips abroad. As well as giving learners the opportunity to meet people from diverse cultures, these can teach valuable lessons about forming effective relationships, as one year 10 student found: ‘Spending five days with a student from another European country tests your patience, your social skills… It was like being a parent… you want them to be happy, comfortable and be OK.’

Developing a voice

One of the deputy headteachers and an assistant headteacher have specific responsibilities for developing pupil voice. In the past year the school has polled 96 teaching groups to find out learners’ perceptions of the quality of their learning experience and the teaching provision. Curriculum leaders also systematically consult pupil panels chosen from a random selection of students, particular groups and students who put themselves forward as participants. They report back on areas such as assessment, target-setting and monitoring, marking and teaching strategies.

The school council was given a budget for the first time in 2007, 50 per cent of which may be used (if approved by senior management and governors) for items that students consider will enhance the life of the school and 50 per cent to promote a new reward for learners. In addition to the school council’s views being taken into account on a wide range of issues, learners give their views on and help to formulate behaviour, rewards and sanctions policies.

Achieving wellbeing

Taking a coherent approach to personal development across the entire planned learning experience – both in and out of the classroom – has had a powerful effect on the learners at Standish. Their growing confidence, positive attitudes, skills, willingness to contribute and general wellbeing clearly show that the school has achieved its aims for personal development. In doing so, it has also demonstrated its contribution to the five outcomes of Every Child Matters.

In the words of a year 11 student: ‘I’ve seen so many positive changes since I came here – it’s a really friendly place to be.’

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