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A whole school skills-based approach to PSE

Personal and Social Education

A whole school skills-based approach to PSE

Following a review of PSE as part of the school self-evaluation process, a decision was taken to place PSE at the heart of the school. Moving away from a traditional approach to PSE, the emphasis is now very much learner-centred. The ‘Learning to lead our lives’ PSE programme has a clear focus on skill development, encouraging learners how to learn effectively. A similar approach is adopted across Key Stages 3 and 4, and with post-16 learners.

In mixed ability groups, learners undertake a series of research projects on a range of topics such as fairtrade, during which they develop and apply their key skills through practical opportunities to work with others and to improve their own learning. A ‘circle of learning’ approach has been adopted. Through a range of relevant PSE-related topics learners are taught to plan, develop and reflect. They develop their ability to think, question, discuss, plan, and reflect in a systematic way in PSE and then are able to apply their skills across the curriculum.

The ‘Learning to lead our lives’ programme is delivered by a small team of senior staff who have developed a common understanding as a result of training and ongoing support. A positive learning environment has been created which encourages the development of emotional literacy. The broader PSE programme which covers health related topics such as relationships and substance misuse is delivered by form tutors who adopt a similar skills-based approach. Assessment for learning techniques are an integral aspect of the ‘Learning to lead our lives’ programme as learners are encouraged to peer and self assess their work. Although learners develop a wide range of personal and social skills, learner achievement is formally recognised and accredited using the communication key skill qualification at Levels 1, 2 and 3.  Learners also gain recognition for their non-formal learning such as peer education through the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the Children’s University.

Links with the PSE framework


Learners have opportunities to:

  • work both independently and cooperatively to plan and complete tasks
  • reflect on the roles played in group situations including leadership
  • use prior knowledge to explain links between cause and effect and make predictions
  • analyse information and ideas in order to assess bias, reliability and validity
  • take different perspectives into account when making informed decisions and choices effectively
  • review and reflect on learning and analyse strengths and weaknesses
  • apply learning to similar situations within and outside school
  • manage time and meet deadlines.


This case study addresses the 'Preparing for lifelong learning' theme. Learners are given opportunities to

  • be well-organised and take responsibility for their actions and decisions related to learning.

Future plans

The school is investigating using the Millennium Volunteers programme as a way of recognising the community participation of post-16 learners.

Related Links

The PSE framework provides the foundation for a broad, balanced holistic approach to PSE.