We are committed to equipping the children in our care with the qualities and skills they need to become “happy, articulate, resilient, agentive people with the capacity to embrace whatever future they eventually inhabit” (Debra Kidd, 2014) – that is, we hope for them to become accomplished self-managers who are able to access ‘life in all its fullness’.
For us this means “people who are flourishing…
- people who have the wherewithal to shape their own life well;
- people who take a delight in learning;
- people who are compassionate, who appreciate the value and preciousness of each and every person and all life on earth;
hence people who help to make the world a better place.” (Minchinhampton Primary Academy School Vision, 2019-2024)
The teaching of PSHE supports and upholds this vision, playing a crucial role in preparing young people for the challenges facing our planet and life upon it.
“[It] gives pupils the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need … to manage their lives, now and in the future. These skills and attributes help pupils to stay healthy, safe and prepare them for life and work in modern Britain. When taught well, PSHE education helps pupils to achieve their academic potential, and leave school equipped with skills they will need throughout later life.” (PSHE Association, 2020d).
As educators, we have a collective duty to prepare our children to take their place in an increasingly fast-paced, globalised and diverse society. We are responsible for developing the children’s resilience and critical thinking skills, so that when they are faced with ecological, financial, professional and personal challenges, they are well equipped and confident in their own abilities.
We wish for our children to be “…less plagued by issues of confidence, self-doubt and low self-esteem” (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2019).
Establishing a strong ‘growth mindset’ is key in developing the children’s resilience. “Life isn’t perfect – any failures you have are actually learning moments. They teach us how to grow and evolve.” (Phillipa Soo).
If children are “…taught how to think, not what to think” (Margaret Mead), their physical and mental wellbeing becomes much more within their control.
“To be calm becomes some sort of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.” (Matt Haig).
In this modern era, our duties as teachers extend far beyond the ever-crucial nurturing of childrens’ physical and mental health to broader global issues, such as the development of ecological literacy in children. “The plain fact is the planet does not need more ‘successful people’. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” (David W Orr in Stone and Barlow, 2005)
We are presently living in a period of global uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest in a long list of global crises, but it will nonetheless leave a devastating effect on the physical, mental, social and financial health of our country. Rates of mental illness in adults and children are expected to sky-rocket. The consequences of this pandemic will be significant and widely felt in our school’s community – as educators and as human beings, we must be ready for them when they arrive. PSHE will play a crucial role in our recovery as a school – we must not underestimate its value in supporting our tireless pastoral care team and those who benefit from their assistance.
“I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse.” (Charlotte Bronte)
Through their PSHE education, children at Minchinhampton will begin to learn to reflect upon and judge facts against ‘fake news’ and contribute towards a more socially just society. John Taylor Gatto (1991) wrote that education “…should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges. It should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.”
Do not educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy, so when they grow up, they know the value of things, not the price.
We aim to be honest with the children about their areas of vulnerability/need, and strongly feel that we must drive on strengths as well as needs. Research has shown that driving on strengths results in higher levels of engagement in students. A 2009 business study found that “Employees with managers who focus on their strengths begin to understand that they are unique and that they can contribute based on the talents that make them unique. They also understand that they are not just a cog in the wheel, but an important part of something greater than themselves.” (Brim and Asplund, 2009) We aim to replicate this with the children in our care.
Our intention is to foster an ethos of connection and co-operation in our partnership with our children and those who care for them. Brené Brown (2010) defines connection as “…the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” We will use data and reflective practice to inform and support staff, children and parents. It is important that parents understand the areas in which their children are feeling most vulnerable, so that they may support their children more effectively. As such, we aim to discourage a ‘them vs us’ mentality. “We believe that parents welcome a partnership between home and schools which supports their children’s personal and social development, and help deal with issues of increasing complexity such as those related to mental health and staying safe, both online and offline.” (PSHE Association, 2020)