Review of Personal and Social Education: teaching unions engagement session

Summary of the engagement session with teaching unions on the Review of Personal and Social Education (PSE), held on 4 September 2018 .


Purpose of the session was to share the draft high level messages from the PSE Thematic Inspection undertaken by Education Scotland and to provide additional information on the delivery of Phase 3 – wider engagement and development of recommendations.

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

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.

Schools included in the Thematic Inspection were carefully selected by Education Scotland’s statisticians to ensure there was a wide geographical/size/deprivation spread.

A broad range of teachers, promoted and unpromoted, and support staff, as well as children and young people were spoken to as part of the Thematic Inspection.

The Thematic Inspection report was published on 28 August.

An engagement session with COSLA, ADES, local authorities and third sector organisations has already taken place.  An online engagement with children and young people was being managed by Young Scot and would take place during September.

The final report of the PSE Review with recommendations will be published in December 2018.

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.


  • not surprised at the findings
  • recognition of the inconsistency in tutor periods – effectiveness of a lesson should take account of the size of the class as the building of relationships and individual interactions are important
  • agree on the findings regarding comments of Senior pupils – importance of balancing the course appropriately, university not being the only post-school pathway
  • professional Learning in PSE – teachers want it, however issue is when they can undertake it and how to balance it with necessary learning for  amended qualifications in secondary  school subjects
  • importance of PSE in the timetabling of lessons needs to be recognised across all levels – in particular the place and value of PSE lessons in S5 and S6
  • status of PSE would be supported by delivery of it by staff who have a Guidance/Pastoral Care qualification
  • potential for strengthened understanding of Experiences and Outcomes in HWB should time for moderation activities be found in the 35 hour working week
  • HWB training could be part of ‘in-service’ days, if agreed by LNCTs
  • current gap in ITE provision relating to PSE overall – need SG to take this up with ITE providers

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:

  • in relation to Case loads the high figures noted are typical for secondary schools – this needs to be addressed
  • targeted support – need a recommendation to ensure this does occur, to enable identification, action and staff training – use of restorative and solution orientated approaches – although concern noted on adoption of universal approaches, need to keep flexibility for schools to adopt approaches suitable for needs of pupils

 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:

  • specialist counselling in respect of mental health should be undertaken by trained professional not trainees
  • need more partnership working with the third sector in supporting positive mental health
  • need to manage delivery of consent to enable those with expertise to participate in the classroom
  • teachers need to be trained sufficiently to deal with the issues surrounding sexual consent

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:

  • agree that all aspects of equalities need a greater focus in pupil learning and teacher professional learning
  • recommend a rename of PSE to make it more understandable and fit with modern education
  • require refreshed resources to enable more inclusivity learning
  • gap in some ITE learning in respect of equalities
  • potential for a PSE framework to pull together the inter-disciplinary learning, although practical challenges remain in the secondary sector in terms of this

General comments in wider discussion:

  • need to broaden out the ideas within Personal achievement and celebration of successes
  • need to incorporate into PSE lessons  more  on future career options – need more work on this to enhance DYW – stronger links with employers, SDS etc – Importance of external partnerships
  • need a greater understanding of Social, Emotional and Behavioural Needs of pupils – will need greater resources and targeted supported / specialist training – potential to create specific resource on current web systems (National Improvement Hub / GLOW)
  • need a recommendation regarding appropriate qualification for Guidance / Pupil Support/ Pastoral Care staff to strengthen the role in delivering PSE
  • SQA Wellbeing Awards could be used as a vehicle to underpin the delivery of PSE / Health and Wellbeing and moderate health and wellbeing across a secondary or special school
  • need strong links with Further and Higher education due to placements from schools, ensure school timetabling takes account of placements and support the transition for Senior Phase pupils to FE/HE
  • need to link up with wider work in areas of multiple deprivation – supporting young people and the link with Scottish Attainment Challenge / DYW



Scottish Government
Learning Directorate
Victoria Quay

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

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