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What is Personal Development?
The Weald School, in partnership with parents, has a vital role in preparing children and young people to negotiate the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly complex world. This presents many positive and exciting opportunities, but also challenges and risks. Personal Development (Dv) is the school subject that deals with real-life issues affecting our children, families and communities. It’s concerned with the social, health and economic realities of their lives, experiences and attitudes including relationships. It supports pupils to be healthy (mentally and physically), safe (online and offline) and equipped to thrive in their relationships and careers.
Parents’ and carers’ support is important to the success of our personal development programme. Students are encouraged to talk about the curriculum with parents and carers. Our personal development curriculum includes relationship education and is available for download so that parents and carers can see what content is being delivered.
Why is Personal Development Important?
- Contributes to physical and mental health and wellbeing, encouraging individual responsibility for health.
- Contributes to the safety and protection of our children and young people, from staying safe online to understanding risks associated with drugs and alcohol and knowing the law surrounding these topics.
- Contributes to the information young people need to help them develop healthy, nurturing relationships of all kinds, not just intimate relationships, and know boundaries within the law.
- Promotes independence, resilience and responsibility — preparing children and young people for future roles as parents, employees and leaders.
- Supports employability by developing the personal and social skills demanded by commerce and industry.
- Supports pupils to be critical consumers of information, and develops the skills to identify misleading news or views on social media and elsewhere.
How is Personal Development taught?
At Key Stage 3 discrete Personal Development is taught once a week by a specialised team of teachers and once a fortnight at Key Stage 4. As a school, we operate a whole school approach to Personal Development and some appropriate topics are explored in tutor time and assembly. Other subject areas contribute to certain topics such as biology in Science and aspects of relationship and health education arise in RE, English, Drama PE and Food Technology.
A wide range of teaching methods are used that enable students to actively participate in their own learning. This includes the use of quizzes, case studies, research, role-play, video, small group discussion and use of appropriate guest speakers. Where it is regarded as particularly beneficial, students are divided into single-gender groups for a part of lessons or whole lessons. Occasional use of drama productions also form part of the programme.
Teaching is conducted in a safe learning environment through the use of ground rules and distancing techniques so that students are not put on the spot or expected to discuss their own personal issues in class. Teaching resources are selected on the basis of their appropriateness to students.
What will my child learn during these lessons?
The Personal Development curriculum is underpinned by the ethos and values of The Weald School and we uphold it as an entitlement for all our students. We recognise the need to work with parents and carers to ensure a shared understanding of Personal Development and to deliver an effective and personalised programme that meets the needs of our students.
The school believes that students should have opportunities to have their genuine questions answered in a sensible and matter-of-fact manner. Teachers will use their skill and discretion to decide about whether to answer questions in class and, if so, how. They will establish clear parameters of what is appropriate and inappropriate; they will follow the school behaviour for learning policy and discuss ground rules with students by taking an approach that encourages students to be mature and sensible. Like other subjects, discrete personal development lessons gradually build key concepts and skills through topics that are relevant to children and young people’s age and stage of development. Personal Development lessons cover a wide range of topics and curriculum areas based on the three core themes of:
- Health and wellbeing
- Living in the wider world
Health Education aims to give your child the information they need to make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing, to recognise issues in themselves and others, and to seek support as early as possible when issues arise.
Relationship Education will build on the teaching at primary school. It aims to give young people the information they need to help them develop healthy, nurturing relationships of all kinds. They will explore what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like and what makes a good friend, colleague and successful marriage or committed relationship.
At the appropriate time, the focus will move to developing intimate relationships, to equip your child with the knowledge they need to make safe, informed and healthy choices as they progress through adult life.
…and later on:
As students progress through the years they will be taught the facts and the law about sex, sexuality, sexual health and gender identity in an age-appropriate and inclusive way. It must be recognised that young people may be discovering or understanding their sexual orientation or gender identity. All students should feel that the content is relevant to them and their developing sexuality. Sexual orientation and gender identity are explored at a timely point and in a clear, sensitive and respectful manner.
The aim of Relationship Education is to give young people the information they need to help them develop healthy, nurturing relationships of all kinds, not just intimate relationships in a secure learning environment taught by professionals. It should enable them to know what a healthy relationship looks like and what makes a good friend, a good colleague and a successful marriage or other type of committed relationship.
Effective Relationship Education does not encourage early sexual experimentation. It should teach young people to understand human sexuality and to respect themselves and others. It enables young people to mature, build their confidence and self-esteem and understand the reasons for delaying sexual activity. Effective Relationship Education also supports people, throughout life, to develop safe, fulfilling and healthy sexual relationships, at the appropriate time. Knowledge about safer sex and sexual health remains important to ensure that young people are equipped to make safe, informed and healthy choices as they progress through adult life.
Living in the wider world aims to teach our young people how to be responsible citizens and possess the skills needed for the future. Living in the wider world draws upon our Weald Character Framework four pillars of well-being, enthusiasm, self-awareness and gratitude. Our young people will also learn about careers and other work-related learning aspects including citizenship and financial management.
Do I have a right to withdraw my child from Personal Development?
If you do not want your child to take part in some or all of the Sex Education lessons delivered at secondary school, you can ask that they are withdrawn. The headteacher will consider this request and discuss it with you.
The science curriculum in all maintained schools also includes content on human development, including reproduction, from which there is no right to withdraw children.
There are huge personal and social benefits of a young person receiving RSE education any withdrawal may have detrimental effects on the child. This could include any social and emotional effects of being excluded, as well as the likelihood of the child hearing their peers’ version of what was said in the classes, rather than what was directly said by the teacher.
From next year (September 2020) parents and carers cannot withdraw their child from Health Education or the Relationships Education element of Personal Development, because it is important that all children receive this content, covering topics such as friendships and how to stay safe. A young person, up until three school terms before they turn 16, can choose to receive Sex Education if they would like to, and we as a school should arrange for your child to receive this teaching in one of those three terms.
Whilst every effort is made, sometimes relationship and sex topics can arise incidentally in other subjects, lessons and situations and it is not possible to withdraw pupils from these relatively limited and often unplanned discussions.