Review of Personal and Social Education: local authority engagement session

Summary of the 25 June 2018 engagement session with local authorities on the Review of Personal and Social Education (PSE), including the role of pastoral guidance and services for counselling for children and young people.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Local authorities
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)

Items and actions

1. Purpose and aim 

Purpose of the Workshop was to share the draft high level messages from the PSE Thematic Inspection undertaken by Education Scotland.

The aim of the Workshop is to facilitate comment on the draft high level messages and  enable key stakeholders to inform the drafting of recommendations. 

2. PSE thematic inspection

Education Scotland visited 55 schools and early learning and child care centres over a wide geographical/size/deprivation spread to review how PSE is delivered, the role of pastoral guidance and services for counselling for children and young people.

A draft report of the Thematic Inspection has been produced, which is currently going through quality assurance within Education Scotland. 

The draft high level messages that were discussed at the workshop may be subject to slight change following the QA process as such it is not possible to include them in this summary.

Workshop comments provided are individuals comments and are not representative of the view of local authorities, COSLA or the Scottish Government.

3. Group discussion of draft high level messages 

Session 1 – The content of PSE programmes for children and young people from 3 to 18 years in Scottish schools and early learning centres / How these programmes are delivered and the quality of learning, achievement and progression

Workshop comments

  • Attendees not surprised with the overall draft findings
  • Health and Wellbeing still seen as the poor relation compared to literacy and numeracy
  • Often subject teachers covering PSE lessons not always confident
  • Curricular subjects take priority on timetables
  • Importance of third sector in delivering specific aspects of PSE
  • Requires trusting relationships with staff that know children well
  • Priorities for vocational subjects – often removal of pupils from PSE to attend classes for  qualifications
  • Need to clarify the purpose of PSE
  • PSE not assessed - how do we know children are making progress?
  • Tutor time – may not be valued
  • What support do guidance teachers receive?
  • Challenges with fitting in career long professional learning (CLPL) – more use of webinars
  • Use young people’s (YP) views to inform S5/S6 PSE content 
  • PSE needs to be consistently timetabled
  • No consistency around time for PSE in S5/6 – needs to be reviewed
  • Don’t just focus on university applications in S5/S6 PSE – prepare them for leaving school/life skills
  • Customise as much as possible
  • Potential for further engagement around partnerships and multi-agency working
  • Need more capacity for teachers to prepare for PSE lessons
  • Assessing impact of lessons – evaluation can be difficult
  • Headteachers need to value PSE more; change of culture leads to staff valuing PSE
  • Limited capacity to plan and review PSE lessons

Suggestions for consideration in drafting recommendations

  • Parity and place of PSE in the curriculum – to give it the same priority as other curriculum subjects
  • Support needs to be offered for professional learning
  • Support for Young People in being able to attend PSE lessons
  • Purpose and vision of PSE
  • PSE consideration for Senior Phase
  • Reduce Bureaucracy associated with developing, planning and reporting on PSE lessons


Session 2 – The effectiveness  of the provision of the universal support entitlement and staged intervention for social, emotional and behavioural support / The effectiveness of pastoral guidance in supporting children and young people

Workshop comments

  • Effectiveness of provision can rely on the ability to draw in appropriate partners
  • Variation of case load of guidance/pupil support/pastoral care staff is a concern
  • School structure can be a barrier
  • What support is there for pupils with high anxiety?
  • Need to value Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) more (balance of time planning vs lessons)
  • Pressure on guidance staff


Session 3 – Positive mental health and extent specific counselling services/ How the issue of sexual consent is taught within relationships, sexual health and parenthood

Workshop comments

  • Counselling needs to be more holistic
  • More rounded range of options available for young people to promote positive mental health – counsellors not always the best option
  • More building around resilience, recognising strengths, ways of managing stress
  • Different kind of counselling services available and doesn’t always work
  • Counselling services not aligned to Curriculum for Excellence and often don’t have the broader understanding around key messages within education
  • How effective are the counselling services – are the counsellors properly qualified?
  • This also applies to other types of therapy (eg – art) – proper qualifications?
  • Each secondary school needs a third sector counselling service
  • Schools need to complement 3rd sector counselling – training around mental health
  • Increasing management of stress – partnership with Fife/Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
  • More to be done to secure consistent support for mental health (from a range of partners)
  • Need to ensure there is proper supervision available for counsellors
  • More training around trauma and attachment – peer mediation potential solution
  • How do we teach children and young people about attachment?
  • More resources on early learning and childcare, require early educators to be skilled and knowledgeable
  • Support staff delivering universal support builds staff resilience
  • Reduced number of school nurses for delivering Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP).
  • National guidance on mental health counselling role needs to be followed by schools
  • Need to do more around consistency of approach to mental health
  • Role of Educational Psychologists – not good availability – they are big part of the solution
  • Themes from Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) relate to sexual consent
  • Staff can feel uncomfortable delivering sexual consent lessons – how do we check its being delivered? Pupils views and quality assurance

Suggestions for consideration in drafting recommendations

  • Spectrum of Mental Health Services should be considered
  • Counselling services in schools - need clarity on role and standards to be met – use the British Psychological Society Guidance as a starter
  • Need professional learning on teaching sexual consent to provide up to date resource for staff and pupils


Session 4 – How learner engagement and co-design of PSE programmes is taken forward in schools / The extent to which equalities issues taught in PSE, teach children and young people about prejudice and promote an understanding of different groups of people

Workshop comments

  • Could look at successful models of peer to peer support
  • Has to include wide range of needs - personalise learning?
  • Time for pupils to be involved (timetables etc)
  • Involve children and young people in the early stages of new approaches
  • Are resources required to engage disengaged pupils?
  • How will the Governance Review impact on the findings of the PSE/ASN review
  • Unconscious bias of staff

Suggestions for consideration in drafting recommendations

  • Support young people to co-design and co-review engagement and participation tools for pupils
  • Links with Health Boards not being captured and need to be improved




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