Our Content Marketing Manager, Georgia, sat down with Pippa, acting head of Canbury School, to discuss problems Canbury school had with RSHE delivery, how Life Lessons has helped staff save time and the positive impact on staff, students and the whole school culture.
Canbury School Information
Georgia: Welcome Pippa, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role at the Canbury School?
Pippa: I’m acting head of Canbury School and we’re an independent school in Kingston, South London. My role here really is to oversee the PSHE and RSHE curriculum, pull it all together, create it and oversee those teachers who deliver it.
Georgia: And what demographic of pupils are at the school?
Pippa: So we’re independent, but we’re very small. We can have a maximum of 76 pupils and they range from age 11 through to age 18.
Georgia: How often do you have PSHE or RSHE lessons during the week?
Pippa: Currently we have a combination of PSHE and RSHE for a one hour a week dedicated lesson and an additional 15 minutes of form time each week. We use that form time slot as top up time for anything that we couldn’t fit into the RSHE hour. Then we also have an assembly on a Friday, which we tend to lean into the PSHE and RSE curriculum for.
Problems with Delivering RSHE Lessons
Georgia: Before you started using life lessons, what were some problems you were facing with delivering RSHE lessons and curriculum to your students?
Pippa: We found that we were having to cobble our RSHE curriculum and lessons together from various different resources. Lots of things from the internet, and from textbooks, which were okay, but sometimes a little dry and a bit word heavy for our students.
The staff were struggling to have a uniform approach to RSHE delivery and it was also taking a long time to plan lessons, gather the resources and make sure they were up to date and relevant to our students.
Georgia: Do you think that is why the Life Lessons video resources are so important? Since we live in a digital age it is important for students to have access to video materials for RSHE lessons.
Pippa: Yes, we find the video resources more accessible to our students than textbooks. The material in the textbooks was okay but went out of date extremely quickly. We were finding as soon as we brought the textbook next year there might be some updates that rendered the textbook out of date.
Georgia: I imagine trying to source digital resources and videos for your staff to use must have taken a long time as well.
Pippa: Yes, yes, definitely it took up a lot of our planning time. We would be scanning the internet, taking a lot of time to watch the videos we found to ensure they were appropriate for our students. We have a high percentage of SEND students so we need to make sure our resources are relevant for a whole range of students since we want to tailor the material for our students’ needs.
So yes, it was taking a huge amount of time to try and find not only the resources but also to find spiral resources that worked for multiple year groups. I may find a good resource for a year 8 group but it wouldn’t be suitable for the years 9’s and 10’s. It was also a massive summer job for me and every summer I used to dread it because I had to update the PSHE curriculum. It was a big headache for me.
Improving RSHE Delivery and Saving Time
Georgia: Can you tell me a little bit more about how Life Lessons has helped you with the delivery of your curriculum for RSHE?
Pippa: I do think that it’s given our staff confidence. They all know where to find the resources, it is quick and easy for them to log into the Life Lessons platform and find their lessons and any resources that they might need to teach that subject.
The overview spreadsheets are really helpful to see any updates to Life Lessons and ensure that our scheme of work marries along with that. Being a Life Lessons school has given us so much time back which is always a blessing because in education there’s never enough time, so anything that speeds up and gives us more time back is a winner.
Georgia: Do you find the other resources helpful as well? Like LifeTalk or our weekly In the News lessons?
Pippa: In the News lessons are very valuable as they are so topical and help our staff stay on top of popular news and things that are occurring now that affect young people.
We have also noticed that your team at Life Lessons is great at staying up to date with what is going on in the world and also at taking on feedback from us which is really good. When we have noticed a topic bubbling around in the school we’ve sent in some feedback and you have come back with some great resources off the back of that which was really helpful.
Positive Impact on Students
Georgia: We have talked quite a bit about the positive impact Life Lessons have had on your staff. Have you noticed any positive impacts on your students?
Pippa: One thing they’ve really said is that they appreciate the diversity of the students that they’ve seen in your lessons and the video library. Like I say, lots of our students are SEND and actually we’ve got a high proportion of LGBTQ+ students in our school as well. They like the fact that your videos show perhaps someone that looks like them.
They also said they really like the discussions, and the guided questions. I think generally they seem more engaged with the lessons which is all you can ask for really, isn’t it? Engagement.
Georgia: I think for young people it can be easier to relate to your peers rather than to teachers during RSHE lessons which is why we thought it was so important to feature young people discussing RSHE topics.
Pippa: Yes it can be a lot easier to relate to people who are your age and your peer group talking about it as well.
Changes to School Culture
Georgia: Do you think there have been any changes to your school culture, also considering a whole school approach to RSHE since you’ve adopted Life Lessons?
Pippa: I think there’s been a lot more consistency from staff. So when things have come out, I’ve been able to sort of guide the form time tutors to certain resources or videos. So the same message is being relayed to students throughout our school.
I think as a result students feel a bit more open to discuss things, especially in PSHE and I hope outside of that as well. Since they are more engaged it means they are more open to talking about things which hopefully will trickle down into our culture and they’ll become more confident at talking about things that are worrying them.
Georgia: Are there any further details or any further thoughts you have to share with me about Life Lessons or your experience with us?
Pippa: Just really to reiterate the fact that I do think the team on your side are really engaging with schools and getting feedback. I notice when I send in feedback the Life Lessons team comes back really quickly with some suggestions, some ideas and wanting my advice. I think there is a great responsive connection because sometimes when you buy into a company you are a number on some bank role sort of chart and really it feels a bit more personable working with Life Lessons which is amazing.
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