Jenny Fox is a Subject Specialist here at the PSHE Association and like others on the subject specialist team writes our resources and guidance, designs and runs our CPD training and works with other organisations to quality assure their resources. Jenny had a pivotal role in writing our PSHE Education Planning Toolkit for key stages 3 and 4 and writes here about the processes and challenges involved in this significant task
Writing the PSHE Education Planning Toolkit for key stages 3 and 4 has been an absolute joy; having the time and space to think about what an ideal secondary PSHE curriculum looks like is genuinely my idea of fun! But it has also not been without its challenges. The first of which being that we all believe here at the Association that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all curriculum for PSHE that could possibly meet the needs of all learners, schools and PSHE teachers across the country, which left us with the question; so where do we start?!
And that, for me, is what makes the planning toolkit so unique and what makes me so proud of the work we have put into developing it. This toolkit is intended to put control for planning the PSHE education curriculum firmly with PSHE leads, while guiding them through the steps along the way. We have included learning objectives and outcomes that are relevant for all young people, however we recognise that PSHE leads will still want to adapt, cut, add to and reorganise the model we have put forward in this toolkit. At least that is what we hope PSHE leads will do, because a PSHE education curriculum needs to feel like it belongs to you and your school community.
So… We started with our sample curriculum map and thought about how, when and where we would cover each of the learning opportunities from our Programme of Study in a way that seemed both relevant and useful. For example, it made sense to us to start with transition in year 7, establishing the ground rules, learning approaches and ethos that will guide students through their five years of secondary education. It was also really important to us to build in learning about careers and work experience for the summer term of year 10, because this is typically when young people are exploring the world of work for the first time. The sample map also demonstrates how a spiral curriculum looks in practice, as it gradually builds on topic areas and adds depth, detail and complexity across and through year groups. For example, starting with the concept of diversity, bullying and prejudice in year 7, and introducing more nuanced examples in year 8 (racism and religious intolerance), year 9 (sexism, transphobia and homophobia) and culminating in specific learning about extremism in year 11. At the same time as developing this knowledge and understanding, this work would build on and extend students’ skills and attributes, such as managing peer influence, media literacy, self-confidence and assertiveness.
To demonstrate the spiral curriculum, we decided to keep the Programme of Study’s three themes (Health & wellbeing, Relationships and Living in the wider world) to separate half terms, ensuring that each core theme was revisited twice. However, as can be seen from the programme of study references, PSHE education is inherently an interconnected subject and defies easy categorisation. As such, it is not unusual that a topic such as diet and lifestyle balance (year 9 Autumn 1) covers learning opportunities from across the three themes. We see it as a core strength of the toolkit that learning opportunities are revisited in multiple ways and through different contexts.
It also felt really important that the toolkit wasn’t just a hypothetical document. We wanted to ‘test drive’ the ideas and see how they worked in practice with young people. We are therefore really grateful to the schools who invited us in to trial units of work and lessons in order to demonstrate the progress made using these planning grids to deliver lessons. We hope that the work samples provided in stage 3 of the toolkit really help to demonstrate PSHE assessment in action.
Finally, we recognise that these documents can seem large and unwieldy at first glance, so we wanted to think about how the toolkit could be used on a practical, day to day level. We are really proud of the versatility and interactivity that our product designers built into the toolkit by developing links to navigate around it and to be able to select planning grids in an instant. We see this newest version of the toolkit as being most effective when used as an electronic daily tool to plan and design schemes of work, individual lessons and ipsative assessments. The hyperlinks at the start of each year group mean that teachers can quickly find what they are looking for, and within the additional guidance grids can be easily connected to other key documents or resources on our website.
We hope you enjoy using the PSHE education planning toolkit as much as we have enjoyed creating it.
Jenny Fox, Subject Specialist