In our webinar, 10 Essential Things You Need to Know as a PSHE Lead, our School Partnership Manage April Smith, and former PSHE lead and trainer Sarah Wittams-Howarth discussed all the important, essential things to consider to be a successful PSHE lead.
Before they got started, we asked our guests to submit their top essential things for teaching PSHE. The graphic below shows the range of different topics, conveying how PSHE and RSHE curriculums are not a one size fits all and different organisations have different needs.
10 Essential Things PSHE leads Need to Know
A Whole School Approach
- Healthy school culture: It is crucial that students are engaging in good quality RSE/PSHE lessons and are able to learn the key topics outlined in the RSE statutory requirements to create a healthy school culture.
- Curriculum and resources: Make the case for having as much time as possible for your RSE/PSHE curriculum. If you can secure curriculum time and additional time via tutor sessions, assemblies or drop-down days , you will be able to lead a preventative and reactive PSHE curriculum more easily. Up to date and relevant resources are also a must for student engagement.
- You as the champion: You, as the RSE lead in your school need to champion a whole-school approach to RSE but you can’t do this on your own. Reach out to your colleagues and get as much support from SLT as possible.
- Teamwork: Work actively with your DSL and pastoral teams for a joined up approach.
- School ethos and values: A whole-school approach to RSE should be evident through the ethos and values in the school.
- Staff training: Continue to upskill and educate your staff regularly
- Data: Use local and national data to inform your curriculum
- Policies and procedures: Make sure your policies and procedures are up to date and back up the great work you are doing. This includes your RSHE policy and your safeguarding policy.
- Give them (some) ownership: Allow students to have ownership over their feelings
- Be open minded: inclusion is a massive part of RSE. Understand that students come from different backgrounds and may have different beliefs
- Be responsive to what they say: Don’t treat RSE lessons as a lecture, rather approach it as a safe space for discussion
- Essential subject: RSE is extremely important, not just a timetable filler
- Normalise diversity: the UK is a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds. Embrace that and showcase that diversity during lessons
- Consider SEND students: What are their needs? If we make the lessons work for our SEND students, they will work for others.
- Consider minority identities: Try to ensure everyone feels included and represented
Effective Parent, Carer and Community Consultation
- Communicating PSHE’s importance: This is a vital subject with important life skills for all students – work to raise the profile of your subject by good communication and solid actions. Dialogue with stakeholders: Have opportunities for parents and carers to communicate their thoughts around your curriculum and what their children are learning.
- Communicating parental rights: There are several reasons why a parent or carer may want to withdraw a student for a certain element of RSE lessons, so ensure they understand their rights and your statutory responsibilities
Well Planned Curriculum
- Statutory requirements: ensure they are understood and followed
- Spiral curriculum: A curriculum spans across year groups and builds upon prior knowledge with increasing complexity
- Skills and knowledge: There are certain skills students need in order to get the most out of RSHE lessons such as critical thinking, active listening, reflection and oracy skills. Embed these into your lessons so students are able to learn both skills and topic knowledge
- Progression: Make sure students feel like they are progressing by using assessment for learning in your lessons to check on progress. Use this data to fill in knowledge gaps and allow all students to reach the same learning outcomes.
- Proactive and reactive: A well-planned curriculum will allow you to be proactive in your approach to RSHE but can you also allow some time to react to the goings-on at your school? Setting aside time in your curriculum, whether that be in regular lessons or via tutor time, assemblies or drop-down days will allow you to react to what is happening in real-time.
- Consistency: Use your resources to ensure consistency of teaching across the year groups. Lessons should follow the same pedagogy and give teachers a starting point that they can them amend for their classes if need be.
Managing and Sharing the Plan
- Curriculum plan: Have a curriculum map that ensures you are covering everything and informs teachers when each topic needs to be covered. All those involved in the delivery of this subject should feel confident about what they are teaching and when.
- Organised resources: Have them accessible for staff so they can tweak for their classes, but know that there is a base standard of resource that follows a set pedagogy.
- Work closely with those delivering the curriculum: Ensure you are meeting regularly to iron out any issues with materials, lack of confidence and to ensure staff are looking at the resources in advance
- Share the curriculum with all staff and wider school events: this is one way of raising the profile of RSE but also to ensure that students are receiving the right support from all teachers. Students ask difficult questions to all staff so it helps to be prepared for all eventualities.
- SMSC and wider school events: Where possible work with your colleagues to tie your curriculum into SMSC events and anything going in in the wider school community.
Creating a Safe Space
- Supportive, courteous, respectful: Create ground rules so everyone feel safe during lessons
- Whole school culture: The entire school should reflect this safe space culture
- Safeguarding: Speak to your DSL to ensure you and your teachers are aware of any relevant situations that may prevent students from taking part in some lesson content.
Engaging, Well Planned Resources
- Simple, engaging, relevant: Check out our Life Lessons resources for ideal RSHE lessons to maintain student engagement
- Discussions and skills practice: Your RSHE lessons should not be a lecture, rather a space for discussion and to practice skills
- Review resources: Keep your resources up to date and ensure everything is checked before being presented to students
- Consider your seating arrangements: Ensure students feel comfortable with those they are sat with but also have opportunities to speak to different students
- Ground rules: Start with these to ensure the space is safe for everyone
- Engaging resources: At Life Lessons we use a watch, discuss, do method in order to engage students with the materials – consider this for your own lessons
- Challenge appropriately: challenge harmful behaviours in lessons to ensure your students are respectful and the space remains a safe one to have discussion and express opinion
- Praise: Praise students during RSE for positive contributions to your discussions and lesson content
CPD and Support for You and Your Team
- Be selective: In an ideal world, have staff teach RSE who are interested or enthusiastic to teach the subject to better engage students
- Collaboration: Meet with your team as often as possible to iron out difficult topics, update on current events and upskill staff
- Share best practice and expertise: Make opportunities for in-house CPD and have your topic “experts” deliver to other staff members
- Share the workload: Once your curriculum and resources are organised what is left to share? Try to split the workload between the team for things such as creating workshops, worksheets or amending resources for different ability groups.
- Support: As we would for our students, have support available for teachers for difficult topics and consider that some of these topics can be triggering for all
How Life Lessons Can Support You With These 10 Essential Things
We work with 200+ schools across the UK and Internationally to help them deliver high quality and engaging RSHE/PSHE lessons and curriculum. With Life Lessons you will check all 10 essential things off your list!
For a limited time we are offering a FREE 1 month trial of Life Lessons where you will get access to a range of our lessons, resources and materials.
Give Life Lessons a Try today.