In this case study, PSHE lead Jessica Russell, describes how effective RSE curriculum has helped Yewlands academy with improve staff confidence and addressed certain pupil behaviours using Life Lessons resources to teach relationships and sex education (RSE).

Setting the scene: Yewlands Academy

Yewlands Academy, Sheffield, has approximately 900 students on roll between the ages of 11-16. A high percentage of students are disadvantaged, it is a majority white working class community and for the pupils there are limited aspirations and few opportunities in the local area.

What Yewlands Academy wanted to achieve 

At Yewlands Academy there were two main goals in mind when they became a Life Lessons Partner: 

Getting Staff alignment & improve staff confidence

Yewlands Academy has a large team of people delivering PSHE and RSE and that brings the challenges of ensuring the lessons are delivered consistently.

Managing behavioural issues through a peer-led approach

Yewlands Academy has faced certain challenges with pupil behaviour, influenced by Covid, peer groups and online influences.  One of the notable issues has been around poor attention spans during lessons and struggling to get students to connect with the resources and RSE topics. 

In the past 6-12 months Yewlands Academy have been focused on driving forward a high quality RSE curriculum because they know it will benefit the school as well as the community.

Then: Delivering an RSE Curriculum Before Life Lessons

Before becoming a Life lessons partner, Yewlands Academy were doing the following:

  • Planning everything themselves
  • Using cobbled together lesson plans from existing resources 
  • Repeating resources with each year group e.g. Cup of Tea video

As a result:

  • Students were not engaged in the content
  • Staff were not confident in delivering content including covering topics such as consent & abusive relationships 
  • Staff felt like they needed further guidance and support
  • Time to collaboratively plan wasn’t regularly achievable 
  • The quality of resources were inconsistent

Now: How Life Lessons has changed how Yewlands Academy delivers RSE

The video content has been excellent. It has broadened students’ horizons and shown students diversity of opinion and people. This has created great conversations and the ability to challenge misconceptions

The CPD videos help to give staff extra support whenever needed at a time that suits them. 

Improve Staff Confidence

Yewlands academy has had 24 different members of staff delivering RSE this academic year. Life lessons resources have been amazing in ensuring there is a consistency in lesson delivery. 

Because students are more engaged with the Life Lessons content it makes the staff feel more confident in teaching RSE. Because the lessons are so well planned with Life Lessons, staff no longer feel uncomfortable with the material. 

Addressing Pupil Behaviour

With this rise in staff confidence it has resulted in staff feeling like they are better equipped to address and manage certain challenging pupil behavioural issues. 

For example, when Yewlands first started using Life Lessons there were initially some negative reactions to the videos from the students. The video “Different Types of Relationships” triggered many students to react and respond in a negative way based on stereotypes from their life experiences.

As a majority white working class area, students were not used to seeing the range of diversity the Life Lessons videos express. Staff then challenged these reactions to open up conversations about stereotypes and ask why students felt discomfort and unpack these negative attitudes.

They did this by using form time sessions to encourage students to be more open minded and receptive to other people. In the past, they might have decided the material was ‘too controversial’ but because of the well constructed resources and vast video library, they could effectively challenge and break down the negative stereotypes further.

After this Yewlands Academy used the video “What do different relationships look like” to positively challenge negativity and expose students to more diversity in a positive and inclusive way. 

In Summary

Life Lessons provides consistency for both staff and students which has helped with student engagement and improve staff confidence. It allows staff to dispel myths and challenge misconceptions in a constructive, supportive way while allowing students to become more engaged with the subject matter and more open to diversity and different opinions and world views. 

Check out our other case studies: Hemel Hempstead School’s Experience of Ofsted Reviewing their PSHE Provision