14 Apr 2007

PSHE and Social Capital - Ofsted says "schools are beginning to realise the inadequacy of much of their assessment"

Time for change? Personal, social and health education

Age group: 11-16
Published: April 2007
Reference no: 070049

This document may be reproduced in whole or in part for non-commercial educational purposes, provided that the information quoted is reproduced without adaptation and the source and date of publication are stated.

Alexandra House
33 Kingsway
London WC2B 6SE
No. 070049
T 08456 404040 Published
April 2007 © Crown Copyright 2007

Extracts from the report [my italics]:

It is important that sufficient time is allocated to PSHE and that good use is made of it. Too many schools do not base their PSHE curriculum sufficiently on the pupils' assessed needs. The area recruits few teachers with directly relevant qualifications to teach PSHE. Three quarters of secondary schools have developed specialist teams of teachers to teach it successfully. However, PSHE is taught by non-specialists in some schools and too much of this teaching is unsatisfactory. Assessment continues to be the weakest aspect of teaching.

Many schools focus narrowly on assessing pupils knowledge rather than determining the impact of their PSHE provision on improving pupils attitudes and skills...........

Schools have, therefore, become aware of the need to improve assessment and have drawn on advice from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Even so, many schools do not know about this advice and have not yet taken steps to improve assessment..........

The revised standards for the National Healthy Schools Programme (NHSP) have raised senior leadership teams awareness of the importance of strong PSHE provision. The standards require participating schools, through a whole-school approach, to tackle the four themes of the programme:

healthy eating,
physical activity,
emotional health and

that lead to 'healthy school' status.......

Leadership and management of PSHE are good in nine in ten schools, although monitoring and evaluation remain the weakest aspects.........

Schools should:

• involve pupils in:

− considering how the PSHE curriculum might meet their needs best
− determining what the outcomes should be and how these should be achieved
− improve the assessment of pupils' progress in PSHE by evaluating changes in attitudes and the extent to which pupils are developing relevant skills

• report annually to the governing body on the monitoring and evaluation of PSHE

• improve the monitoring and evaluation of the quality of PSHE provision

• ensure that work at Key Stage 3 takes sufficient account of pupils' learning at Key Stage 2

• develop constructive links with a range of support services through drop-in centres or extended school provision, in order to respond appropriately to the personal needs of pupils and their families..........

At times, it is the school rather than the home that provides the moral code and, in its absence in the home, some children are put under additional pressures. In nearly all schools, the PSHE programme is the vehicle for tackling many of these pressures.............

23. Parents greatest challenge is to set clear expectations, and to be aware of and to accept responsibility for their children's behaviour. Some parents do not rise to this challenge. Pupils look to schools for help hence the importance of high quality PSHE.

27. If pupils are to be able to analyse, reflect on, discuss and argue constructively about issues in PSHE, they need to develop appropriate skills. In good provision, pupils showed:

• communication skills, such as putting forward a point of view and listening to others

• decision-making, so that they could make sensible choices based on relevant information

• the ability to make moral judgements about what to do in actual situations and the potential to put these judgements into practice

• interpersonal skills, so that they could manage relationships confidently and effectively

• assertiveness skills

• the ability to act responsibly as an individual and as a member of various groups.

40. Assessment continues to be the weakest aspect of PSHE teaching. It is sufficiently rigorous in only a minority of schools and unsatisfactory in half. One of the reasons for the lack of even simple assessment strategies is schools belief that pupils enjoyment of the subject is due, in part, to the absence of any assessment framework. This is misguided: teachers need to know if pupils have acquired the knowledge, understanding and skills they intended them to learn. In turn, this should influence planning to ensure that pupils continue to make progress.

41. Most schools focus narrowly only on pupils' progress in developing their subject knowledge and understanding. Relatively few schools attempt to assess changes in pupils' attitudes or their developing skills. Few schools have valid data which might be used to inform planning and, where the data are available, they are not used.

42. Good practice in assessing pupils. current knowledge includes using evidence from evaluations of teaching, assessment data, the outcomes of discussions with pupils, and behavioural surveys.

To improve assessment, schools should:

• make good use of the QCA's new assessment guidance and end of Key Stage statements for PSHE

• determine pupils' current knowledge and understanding before a new topic is taught

• plan assessment as a key element of teaching and learning

• involve pupils in assessing their own progress

• gather evidence on pupils' knowledge, understanding and skills

• challenge pupils' attitudes and raise their awareness of how their actions have an impact on themselves and others.

43. With its focus on pupils' outcomes, the new school inspection framework strengthens the role of PSHE. However, in trying to identify and evaluate outcomes, schools are beginning to realise the inadequacy of much of their assessment. New advice from the QCA is starting to have an impact, although not all schools are aware of it........

48. Planning for SRE also requires an understanding of young peoples' needs. Knowing about aspects of SRE does not, on its own, ensure a young persons personal safety and sexual health. Effective SRE should help pupils to develop the personal skills they will need if they are to establish and maintain relationships and make informed choices and decisions about their health and well-being.

49. An SRE programme is likely to be particularly effective if it enables pupils to:

• communicate a point of view clearly and appropriately, and listen to the views of others

• make sensible choices about what to do in particular situations

• manage relationships with friends confidently and effectively

• act responsibly as an individual and as a member of a group...........

51. Most of the schools in this survey ensure that their aims and values are well known to pupils and their parents, and that they are adhered to consistently. They will often refer to personal morality, the effects of actions and choices, and the nature of relationships concepts very relevant to SRE. However, some of the schools visited need to broaden their coverage of SRE and clarify what they mean by ahievement in this area, so that it includes developing pupils' values and attitudes............

55. Smooth transition is also hindered by inadequate assessment. In particular, work at Key Stage 3 takes insufficient account of pupils' prior learning and experiences at Key Stage 2. This mismatch is all the more stark because of recent changes to PSHE programmes in Key Stage 2.

56. Most PSHE lessons, through the inclusion of discussion and group work, give pupils opportunities to ask questions to clarify their understanding. However, such lessons cannot easily enable pupils to ask for more personal advice that they would not wish to discuss in front of their peers. Although most schools regard the class teacher/form tutor as the key adult to support individual pupils, some pupils find that they have better relationships with a subject teacher. Discussions with pupils during the inspections indicated that they would be reluctant to discuss some personal issues with any member of the teaching staff. This reluctance arises from their concerns about confidentiality and whether the teacher is able to advise them on more sensitive issues, such as sex and relationships.

57. To go some way towards resolving these concerns, successful schools have adopted approaches to support individual pupils which include:

• building pupils' confidence

• always taking seriously all issues raised by pupils

• handling information professionally and confidentially

• ensuring effective liaison with integrated support services

• focusing on a pupil's individual needs and avoiding a one size fits all approach

• trying to bring together the work of mentors, counsellors and external support agencies with individual pupils and, if appropriate, with their families

• not being afraid to admit failure with some pupils; there will be some whose complex needs cannot be met within a school.

63. Schools are required, through a whole-school approach, to deal with the four obligatory themes that make up the 'healthy school' status, to provide evidence against all criteria for each theme and to demonstrate outcomes that have made an impact on pupils' learning experiences and/or behaviour. The four themes are:

• PSHE (including sex and relationship education and drug education)

• healthy eating

• physical activity

• emotional health and well-being (including bullying).

64. With these developments in mind and the concerns about the time currently allocated to this aspect of the curriculum, the on-going QCA review of the curriculum is timely and will address the curricular content and how PSHE outcomes might be achieved. Many schools are already considering how PSHE might support the five outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda. Schools already recognise the importance of their PSHE programmes in either coordinating the contributions of different subjects or taking sole responsibility for dealing with the Every Child Matters agenda.

65. Care should be taken to ensure that the PSHE curriculum meets the needs of young people. Not all schools or national bodies establish effective ways to gather the views of pupils. Focus groups or school councils might help to shape wider discussions, although they should not be seen, necessarily, as representing the wider school population. The involvement of PSHE advisers and their local authorities would help to broaden consultation and secure access to the views of more young people, in that way helping to ensure that a future PSHE curriculum meets their needs successfully.

End of extracts.

This is a very useful report for all those interested in PSHE. I am pleased that talk2me addresses the issues raised by the report about weaknesses in the current practises of many schools, particularly "in trying to identify and evaluate outcomes, schools are beginning to realise the inadequacy of much of their assessment."

Future posts will explore specific aspects of the report.

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